Too Much Barking at the Window by their Miniature Poodles

Miniature Poodles do lots of barking

Jack is on the left, Ozzy on the right

There is only one problem with the two adorable miniature poodles – too much barking.

Jack in particular goes into a barking frenzy when he hears or sees anything outside the house.

Rarely in the course of my job with owners who have problems with their dogs do I visit dogs that are quite so well-trained and good. They are friendly, bright and happy little dogs. They are wonderfully trained with all sorts of tricks and antics, they are super obedient before their food goes down. When asked, they will go to their mat and stay there (see below) and much more.

They walk nicely and they are quite good around other dogs despite over-boisterous bigger dogs having hurt them and dogs having snapped at them a couple of times.

Barking is the problem

On the barking front, the days don’t start well. The dogs come up to the bedroom first thing in the morning and straight away Jack, on the left, is on watch out of the window from the bed, waiting for things to bark at.

Then, when the lady gets up, he is running around downstairs, from window to window, barking at things as she tries to get washed and dressed. Already she is becoming anxious and exasperated.

Then, when Ozzy is let out into the garden he rushes out barking and running the boundary. He just stops barking briefly to do his business.

Naturally the two dogs hate anything coming through the letterbox and will bark madly if there is a ring on the doorbell.

To ‘try’ or to ‘do’?

I’m sure this sounds familiar to a lot of dog owners! They believe they have tried everything but nothing works. One common mistake is to ‘try’ things and not carry on for long enough. Another is to deal with the barking as though barking itself is the problem, rather than the symptom of over-excitement, fear, protection duty. Arousal causes the barking.

The humans need to take control of protection duty. This doesn’t mean that the dogs are expected to stop barking altogether. It means that they can alert the humans and then leave thOzzyJacksone worrying up to them.

How people react is the key. Any form of scolding is merely joining in. Any form punishment can only make them more fearful and reactive. The whole family needs to be consistent in reacting in the right way every time the dogs bark – and immediately. The ‘right’ may not be the same in every case, so we work out the best strategy for helping these dogs out.

Not a part-time job

For best success it’s vital to be on the case constantly. We can’t only deal with it just when we have time and inclination and at other times leave them to sort it out themselves. Therefore, when the people are unavailable or tied up doing something else, they should shut the dogs in a ‘bark-free’ environment or a room with no view (in this case in their crates), with something to do.

How can they respond every time their dogs bark when it is so frequent, without going mad? The more the little dogs bark, the better they get at it.

Key to success and sanity is cutting down as much barking opportunity as possible. They can do this by blocking the view out of windows with static plastic window film or moving furniture, drawing curtains and so on. An outside mail box solves the problem of post invading their home through the front door.

Taking Ozzy out into the garden on lead for a few days will break the ritual of rushing out barking.

Two vicious circles

There are two vicious circles going on here. The more the dogs bark the more aroused they get – so the more they will bark. The more the dogs bark, the more anxious and stressed the humans become and the dogs, picking up on this, will bark even more.

This the latest feedback: “I am very pleased with the progress Jacks has been making. The mornings are much calmer now but if he gets a bit excited I pop both him and Ozzie in their crates with a treat and their music on. They are both quite happy with this arrangement. When people come to the door Jack knows the routine now and comes happily trotting back to me for a treat when I use the “OK”. I now feel in charge (in a nice way), and that I can bring peace and calm when needed to the home I share with my dogs.
Thank you for your help and advice, we would not have the improvements we have now without it. I am very well aware that the boys need consistent handling and don’t intend to go backwards.”
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete report. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog, you can do more harm than good. Click here for help

Barks Go Away at People. Fearful Puppy.

As I walk in the door, the puppy barks as he backs away. He barks Go Away to me.

It is suggested that taking a puppy from his mother and siblings a bit too early may, in special circumstances, be actually be better than leaving him a bit later than usual. This depends upon what the breeder is doing.

Rough and tumble with siblings can teach puppy to be gentle, give and take and so on. If, until he is ten weeks old, puppy sees nobody apart from the other dogs and a couple of family members in the breeder’s house in the middle of nowhere, the outcome can be a lot more serious than a nippy puppy.

A puppy needs early habituating to the outside world and to a variety of people including children. For psychological reasons, the earlier this begins the better despite vaccinations not complete.

Four month old Bear is a typical case in point. They picked him up to join their other Miniature Poodle, Teddy, at ten weeks of age. He is very gentle, not a nippy puppy at all and perfect with Teddy.

The four-month-old puppy barks Go Away.

However, Bear is very scared of people. He even initially barks Go Away to familiar people coming into his home.

he barks Go Away at people

Bear

Normally they stop him with a mix of saying Shhh and fuss. I asked them to leave him which meant he carried on a lot longer.

Now the work started. He was going to learn not to be scared of me.

The lady had my clicker and some grated cheese. Each time Bear looked at me he got a click then, a moment later, cheese.

Each time he barked, as soon as there was a break she clicked. Then cheese. Soon she was clicking and I was delivering the cheese.

It was complicated a little by the need to give Teddy cheese as well, but that is the rule of clicker. The click is always followed by food. We may want to give Teddy some clicker fun at a later date. The room was small and there was nowhere else for him to go, and Teddy loves his food so can’t be left out.

Joy and laughter.

Teddy and Bear give their retired owners great happiness and loads of laughter. The little dogs have wonderful lives with them. Understandably, they want Bear’s life to be as good as it possibly can be which means his becoming less fearful of people, including children.

Teddy

This can only be done by associating them with ‘good stuff’. It needs lots of patient work from his humans who will do their best not to push him ‘over threshold’ by getting so close that he then barks Go Away.

They have actually made good headway on walks and he can now accept several people he knows without barking. The big difference when out in the park is that he’s off lead and free to escape.

They can use the people he meets on walks to build up his confidence by pairing his looking at them with food. The lady may find the clicker one thing too many to handle – as well as two dogs, leads, poo bags and treats – so she will say ‘Yes’ instead.

They will find a bench at a comfortable distance from the kids’ play area and get out the clicker and cheese. We are using tiny bits of cheese for working on people because he likes it better than anything else. The only way he can now get cheese is when he sees a person.

Rehearsing Go Away barking.

The more Bear barks Go Away at people, particularly as they nearly always do go away, the more he’s going to do it.

When people go past the house, he barks Go Away – and they go. Success. When the mail comes through the door, he barks Go Away – and the postman goes. Success.

The view out of the window will be blocked and an outside letterbox installed. The constant daily rehearsal of succesfully barking at people to go away must be reduced.

When I got up to go, I wanted to get out without any of the usual barking from Bear. I did it in small stages starting by gathering my things. The lady clicked and fed as he watched me. As I slowly stood up she did it again. As I slowly walked to the door she continued.

I let myself out.

No barking!

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, 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 Bear because neither dog nor situation will ever be exactly the same. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog, you can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly, particularly where fear is concerned. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Help page)

 

 

Considering Putting to Sleep their Puli

Puli

LC

Hungarian Puli as it normally looks

A Puli

 LC is the first Hungarian Puli I have ever been to. The picture on the left shows how they usually look, but they have had her clipped (on the right) so this is what they really look like under all those ringlets! They feel she seems a lot happier like this.

They had been within half an hour of having four-year-old LC put to sleep for biting the midwife when she called to see the daughter’s new baby a few days ago. This was the first woman she had bitten.

The biting occurances are increasing. Until the midwife it’s always been when men who are standing or walking. It is when they arrive or want to depart. When I stood up to go she suddenly changed from being a really friendly little dog, lying on her back for tummy tickles, to an angry barker.  I say angry, because from her body language it just didn’t look in any way like fear.

They also have a Miniature Poodle, Pickle, who LC likes to control. She won’t let her out through the garden door ahead of her and on walks LC has to be in front and if not, she will body slam her or even go for her. They have had a few serious fights because, although Pickle is scared and the one that ends up bleeding, she is now also beginning to stand up for herself.

The common denominator is excitement and stress. Both dogs bark at the slightest thing and LC may go for an over-excited Pickle.  When people come into the house, family or friends, LC will redirect her frustration onto Pickle – and a spat may ensue. The humans then will be shouting at them to be quiet and to get down which adds to the mayhem.  When I arrived at the house Pickle was barking and jumping up on me and LC, barking also, went for Pickle.

There are a several things to deal with in these dogs’ lives to calm things down drastically. Their diet may be compounding the problem. The first step is to desensitise them to the things that work them up the most – including family walking in and out of the house, picking up keys and having harnesses put on.

Poodle Pickle is now beginning to stand up for herseif

Pickle

Tomorrow is Christmas Day!  They are having a large family gathering on Boxing Day.

We had to think up something quickly to protect people and dogs. They have already bought a couple of gates so each dog now has her own ‘zone’ whenever necessary, and the family are working on the logistics of their comings and goings, making sure the dogs are shut in their zones until calm. It is complicated. When someone wants to go out they must first put the dogs in their places. When they want to come in they will use the front door and ring the bell, to give people already in the house time to ‘zone’ the dogs!

The dogs will not be let back together or into company until they have calmed down. This could take time, and shouting at them to be quiet is not allowed!

I know how badly the family want to succeed and to be able to keep their dear dog, and they are dedicated to doing all that is necessary now that they know what that is. Putting to sleep a dear dog is heartbreaking. The ‘zoning’ won’t have to be forever, but is necessary in order to manage the situation while they work on it.