Scared Barking. Fearful. Barks Constantly on Walks

I heard scared barking as I knocked on the door.

too much scared barking

Sid is gorgeous and I was expecting a Cavapoo. I don’t believe he is a Cavapoo though. The scared barking came from a dog looking more like a newly trimmed Cockerpoo.

There is definitely something fishy about his start in life, where they got him from at eleven weeks and the fact he was already incubating kennel cough.

The ‘breeder’ wouldn’t give her address until they were on the road. When they got there Sid was handed over to them straight away. There was a small Cavalier KC that they said was Sid’s father and a small black poodle that they said was his mother. No other dogs.

My suspicion is that this smart house was a front and very likely Sid had been shipped there from somewhere else.

Continue reading…

Non-Stop Barking Down the Road

Cavalier King Charles stretching

Sunny

Little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Sunny’s barking is a big problem for his family. He barks in the night, he barks at TV, he barks at anything he hears, he goes mental when the post comes through the door, he barks at birds in the garden and he barks on walks from the moment they leave the house and all around the village.

His companion, a little girl Cav called Sky, is quieter (a ‘little angel’).

Barking can affect people’s lives big time. Night time barking means they get sleepless nights, barking on lead means walks are stressful and embarrassing and barking at the TV means their evenings are frustrating and punctuated by shouting at the dog.

Shouting at barking dogs just doesn’t work more than perhaps temporarily. Shouting does nothing long-term and merely adds stress to an already stressed situation.

People understandably concentrate on finding ways to STOP their dogs barking. Like many, Sunny’s people had resorted to using a Citronella collar but it stopped working as the dog got used to it (for dangers of Citronella collars please see here).

We concentrated less on the barking itself but on doing something about the hyped up emotions that drive the barking. In Sunny’s case I feel it’s a mixture of excitement tinged with a bit of fear, and some of it has been unwittingly reinforced. He is being taught to bark. He barks as they go down the road – and they keep going down the road. He barks in the night, and eventually someone comes down. He barks at the TV, and he gets their attention away from the TV and onto himself.

Sky

Sky

The gentleman, with me beside him, walked him out of the door and around the road a couple of times. After a number of false starts while we worked out the most suitable method to use, we were marking and rewarding quiet on the door step, he stepped out, said ‘Yes’ and rewarded, each couple of steps we stopped, said ‘Yes’ and rewarded quiet until we got to the difficult corner where other dogs lived before turning back for home. Sunny was still quiet.

The gentleman was quite chuffed at how well he had managed. In effect, he wasn’t teaching Sunny not to bark; he was showing him how to be quiet.

We worked in similar fashion with the barking at TV. The daughter had a clicker and food. Each time Sunny glanced at TV and before he could bark, she clicked and rewarded him by dropping food – he had to look away from the TV to pick up the food. Obviously programmes will need to be carefully selected to start with.

Sunny

Sunny

They are now putting the dogs in a different room at night-time. The rule simply has to be ‘no coming down’ – not even the once – unless they want the barking to continue. This is a behaviour that has only started recently.

The dogs should be kept away from the front of the house because passing people and post coming through the door only encourage barking, and they should only be let out into the garden when someone is about to help Sunny out immediately he starts to bark at something.

The less barking Sunny does the less stressed he will be. A calmer dog will be less reactive and quieter – sort of chicken and egg. He will for the time being be earning much of his daily food quota for being quiet. As you can see, he is a real little cutie!

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Sunny. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Barking on Walks When Off Lead

Walks again – Cockerpoo at seasidebut this time the unwanted behaviour, barking on walks, is when the dog is off lead.

Wendy is a well-loved and beautiful Cockerpoo (they sent me this picture of their dog at the seaside) and below here she is having a cuddle like a baby!

Out on walks, from the moment they hit the road, she pulling so much that she’s nearly strangling herself – but she’s not barking yet. She simply can’t wait to be let off lead.

As soon as she is released she runs ahead, barking madly. She doesn’t go far but the seemingly excited barking is relentless. With the lady in particular she is almost running backwards as she barks, looking into her eyes like she wants her to do something (a ploy that usually works at home!).

There are two areas that they have complete control over – what happens immediately before she starts barking (the lead comes off) and what happens afterwards (they keep on walking). This will take some trial and error.

Some comfortable equipment and walking more calmly to begin with before she’s let off lead would be a good start. A 30′ long line Wendy2may give her some freedom and she may, or may not, bark. If she still barks, they need to experiment with distance. My first step would be to assume that the barking is paying off in some way. What do they do that’s somehow reinforcing this? They keep on walking – following their barking dog. Now they should keep turning and walking the other way until she’s quiet. Each time she comes back in front of them they should turn back and carry on with the walk.

This is only part of the solution as it only indicates to Wendy what they don’t want – the barking on walks. She needs liberal rewarding for what they do want – quiet. The food may need to be tossed to her so as to get the timing right. Play would be good if it doesn’t trigger the barking.

The bottom line is that the barking has to stop working. At the end of the day they have a powerful tool – the lead. When the lady stops to talk to someone, Wendy barks – so why not pop the lead on straight away and reward her for being quiet? Wendy never barks when on lead. Very strange.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Wendy, which is why I don’t go into exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

 

Excited Barking on Walks

Two Kyi-LeosSophie and Honey really are the friendliest little dogs imaginable. These two little Kyi-Leos (no, I hadn’t heard of that breed either – a cross between a Maltese and Lhasa Apso) are in effect litter mates – born three years ago within a couple of days of one another to different mothers but the same breeder.

Although they are lavished with love and attention, it hasn’t actually made them spoiled by nature. They have a virtual smorgasbord of food left down for them all the time, two dishes each for variety, far too much for them to finish, regularly replaced.

The lady doesn’t want them trained to do anything like sit or lie down, she just wants them to stop the constant excited barking on walks. That’s all.

The little dogs start barking with excitement as soon as the front door opens. They bark all the way down the road, pulling ahead. The noise intensifies if they see someone who may give them a fuss. They simply love people.

To deal with this barking we need to backtrack a bit. Problems can seldom be dealt with in isolation.

Firstly, because we currently aren’t able to use food for desired bahaviours due to high value food being permanently available, we need to give the dogs an appetite. Meals have now to be limited to the amount the dogs are able to finish and the bowls lifted. Snacks and unearned treats need to be cut right back. Food has to have value.

Next, the barking at home and in the garden needsTwo Kyi-Leos posing to be dealt with. They should be called in immediately they start to bark and rewarded for coming away with food…..chicken….which should now be worth working for. The little dogs should soon be getting the idea that by stopping barking they can earn food.

Now we can start on the barking on walks. At the moment it’s NO NO NO – a bit like the lady joining in really, and it makes no difference at all.

At present barking is in effect rewarded with walking on, which is what the dogs want. This has to change. While there is any barking the lady should stand still and wait. As soon as there is a break in the barking, she can feed them and start to move forwards. As soon as they start again she stops, waits, feeds and starts off again. Over and over. It would be easier with one dog at a time, but that would open a whole new reason for the little dogs, who have never been apart, to bark

Lots of short sessions outside the house are what is needed, because walks in themselves will also then become more commonplace.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Sophie and Honey, which is why I don’t go into exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Barking at People and Dogs

Yorkshire Terrier sibling barks too much

Daisy

Yorkie twins Daisy and Cody are now five years of age.

There are well-documented disadvantages of taking on sibling puppies – see here for more information. One common problem is that one of the puppies becomes shy, even when both puppies started off as bold and outgoing. This means that the shy puppy never reaches his or her potential. Another problem is that same-sex siblings in particular can end up arch enemies.

It’s a tribute to their family that these two little dogs have turned out so well.

I would say that although Daisy, on the right (look at that little face), is a lot more nervous than Cody, they are no different many other two unrelated dogs.

Their problem is too much barking at people and dogs from Daisy, particularly when they are out or when people come in the house. Cody is self-assured and has ‘attitude’ on walks but Daisy is scared.

Because she can sometimes sound quite ferocious when a person or another dog approaches, the lady has been so worried that her little dog is aggressive. She is on lead with a tense and anxious handler and she feels vulnerable.

But it varies. It’s not consistent. Because some days she is fine where other days she is very nervous, it’s useful to look at what is happening in all other aspects of Daisy’s life. There are many things that stir her up daily which don’t affect Cody at all, including the post coming through the door, the vacuum cleaner or lawn mower, and even enthusiastic greetings. Without too much effort the family can save her the build-up from all these stresses and it will make a huge difference to her.

Yorkshire Terrier sibling is the more confident

Cody

The lady in particular is very concerned her little dog could be ‘dangerous’ by all the barking at people and dogs. When they are out or when someone comes to the house she is both nervous and apologetic.

The people holding the leads will need to keep a close eye on the dogs for their reaction – to nip it in the bud. They must move Daisy away to a distance where she feels ‘safe’ and then work on building up her confidence.  When over-threshold she barks and lunges and snarls – and then may redirect onto poor Cody with a nip.

Work can only be done with the dogs walked separately for a while.

It’s the stress and fear that needs to be addressed – both dog and human! Already the lady has said, “I feel more at ease with the barking knowing it isn’t aggression”.

When Daisy calms down and everyone gains confidence, they should have no problems on walks – as has already been proved on ‘good’ days.

To change the behaviour we must change the emotion that drives it.

Already, after one day of implementing a few changes, the lady says: “We can’t believe how quiet they have been – less stressful today all round for the dogs and me!
Seven weeks later: ‘Things are improving – I walked Cody the other day and came across a lady with 3 dogs I turned and walked away then turned back and stayed on my side of the road (lady was on the opposite pavement talking) we continued walking with no reaction from Cody at all – I was very pleased with him as previously he has barked at the dogs – I have been going out when it suits me rather than when its quiet – most days we don’t see anyone but if we do I know how to handle them.  We have seen such an improvement in the dogs and agree with you it is as much about us changing as well as the dogs.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Daisy and Cody, which is why I don’t go into all the exact details of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

 

Barking at Everything and Anything

An independent little dog that loves being fussedHow adorable is this? Little Patsy, age about 6, is a very small Jack Russell.  Her owners of one year got her from the pound. They said they wanted a Jack Russell but weren’t allowed to see the dogs. Patsy was thrust into their arms and that was that! She was skin and bones and in a terrible condition, and most of her rotten teeth had to be removed.

It is thought that Patsy had been left behind by travellers which could explain her behaviour. She is extremely good with children and, an independent little dog who loves being fussed but isn’t in the least demanding. One can imagine her living outside, running free with a gang of excitable, barking terriers. She has had at least one litter of puppies.

Wonderful little dog

Mostly when people tell me their dogs are ‘perfect at home’ I can uncover some things that could be changed for the better, but in Patsy’s case, apart from the barking at everything, there really is nothing. She is wonderful. For some of the time she lay on my lap. She has this cute way of communicating when on the floor by doing a ‘play bow’ and creeping forward.

Patsy, however, gets very hyped up before walks and on leaving the house it is constant barking and vocalising all down the road.  She barks if the gentleman stops to say hello to someone. She is ready to react to anything and everything.

Her owners spend may weekends away caravanning, where Patsy has to be tied out, and she is constantly barking at everything and anything.

I had a call from them in the evening and already, by using a few new tactics, they were making progress with the barking. The primary tactic is to work at general calmness. No walks should be embarked upon until she is calm. This requires patience!

A different approach to her barking at everything

The ‘Be Quiet’ approach to barking may temporarily halt it, and it may make the humans feel better, but it does nothing for the long term barking problem. Dogs need to be taught that being quiet is good. Being quiet brings results that are rewarding. If they bark in alarm it should be taken seriously. It’s a survival mechanism.

If our child were to scream ‘Help! There’s a man with a machine gun coming down the path and we are all going to die!’, would we command him to be quiet, or perhaps ignore him altogether? No. As parents we would deal with it appropriately.