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Thread: Stop excessive play barking.

  1. #1
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    Default Stop excessive play barking.

    Hi everyone, Rebel will be turning 11 months old this May, and there's a behavior I've been trying to work on stopping, which is excessive barking. He doesn't do it all the time, it's not boredom barking, and there are only two times when he does it - when he's playing with Bonnie (which is a fair bit), and when the neighbor's dog starts up. I understand the other dog triggering it, because territory and all that, and I understand to some extent why he does it with Bonnie and playing, because that's a way to initiate play, and also he's quite dominant, definitely the dominant of the pair. (If you don't already know, Rebel is a pure border collie from working lines, Bonnie is also a pure (but unpapered) BC from working strains, but she has a much milder temperament usually - Didn't know if that would be relevant but I know BC's can be a handful - I've had a few haha).

    What I need to stop is excessive barking. He does it when he plays or gets excited, and it's REALLY annoying. What worked with Bonnie 'No!', worked a treat, doesn't work as well on him. I know he's likely to be harder to train because he's a male, and I haven't ever trained a male dog before, only had females since I was very young (am now just turned 17), so I guess I'm not used to the rigmarole involved. He's smart as hell, knows his tricks and his place in the pack, and picks up new things quickly (with or without my assistance..), but this is the one issue he won't stop with, even though I'm absolutely certain he knows he shouldn't be doing it. I've tried making him less excited, telling him 'No', and playing with Bonnie separately to make a point to him (sometimes works with things like treats for other behaviors I've cured him of). Don't know if I'm doing it right or what, I've sort of developed my own set of training techniques with him and Bonnie, some work for them both, others only Bonnie. In any case it's very insistent, loud and annoying. I wouldn't mind some barking, but he barks, growls, and bites Bonnie excessively and it's LOUD, let me say. Also I think it's affecting Bonnie, since we got Rebel she's been SO downtrodden, and she never does anything wrong anymore but she still acts like she's being scolded 24/7 every day - yet I never say no to her, only cuddles and pats. So, any tips?

  2. #2
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    Good on you for searching for advice on how to help with this behaviour.

    I don't believe male dogs are harder to train than female dogs, or vice versa. It depends on the type of personality of the dog and the consistency and patience of the handler (YOU).

    Generally, if he is excited and barking carrying on etc, then the best option is to stop him before he gets over-excited. When my dog is at the park and is too excited and keeps barking despite working with him, I shoot him, "BANG" (play dead command) and he immediately lies down and stops moving. It gives him time to settle and he sees it as an opportunity to be rewarded. When I release him from his death position, he gets up and is a lot calmer.

    You can look at time outs when he is barking. You can either take him away and put him in another room/ tie him to a rope outside away from you and Bonnie. Alternatively you can stop playing and turn away from Rebel until he stops barking for a minimum of 5 seconds. He needs to associate the non-barking with you turning back to him rather than you turning the second he stops.

    There are other ways to help with this problem and I'm sure others will post more tips but these are a couple to consider for now.

    Good Luck. Let us know how it goes

  3. #3
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    I like what Belinda has written.

    The main thing is to interrupt and stop the barking as much as possible - be as consistent as possible. If there is barking - go grab dog and hold until dog stops and is calm - then release to see what the choice is - and repeat if the barking starts up again.

    My dog does not bark just because my neighbour's dog barks. But my neighbour's dog barks at everything - at me in my yard, at my dog, at my dog barking, at the birds, cats, people walking down the lane (good), anything and everything.

    And I think this is because the neighbours have given up trying to show the dog that it's unacceptable and they are completely inconsistent about stopping it when it does happen.

  4. #4
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    He is a lot better than he used to be, I'll give him that. He used to jump, like, a LOT, scratching at you hard and stuff, quite a brat. The jumping was so irritating, nothing would work. Not facing away, not patting bonnie, nothing. I tried everything I could think of. Then one day he jumped up and I just whacked his nose and he never once did it again. Now I know most of you aren't advocates of physical negative reinforcement, and I'd like to make the point that I don't use it unless there's a real need to, like sometimes they play hard, turning into actual fights, and i'll just grab each scruff and kind of toss them apart and say no, and they get the message, but rebel responds better to that sort of thing. Not hard hits mind, just a whack on the nose, but he heeds that quicker than even treats, and he actually doesn't seem to mind. Bare in mind I tried everything before this, and this one thing worked a charm the one time i tried it, so use what works i reckon. I don't want to do it with barking though because I don't want him to associate any barking with a nose-bop, cos then he won't be a good guard dog. I'm hoping that with consistent training and age he'll work himself out of it, as I vaguely remember Bonnie being kind of yippy when she was younger too.

  5. #5
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    Striker, I'd like to point out that your "bop/wack" on the nose is not negative reward. It is positive punishment. You added a whack to the nose to stop (lessen the likelihood of) a behaviour.

    To ensure anyone reading this with a jumpy dog does not go straight to a whack in the nose, here are three other options (negative punishment).

    Turn away from the dog and ignore until it stops, grab dog and place it in time out for two minutes, or walk into another room and close the door behind you so the dog has no access to you. All these must be repeated whenever the dig jumps until it learns to stop. It will work out that the way to get your attention is to avoid jumping.

    I'd like to add here that most of the time a dog is jumping because it is excited to see you and is invading your personal space. You really should ignore the dog, particularly when you arrive home from work etc, until the dog no longer jumps but also walks away and calms down and dies its own thing. Then you can call your dog over. Generally once this is done properly, the dog will walk over slowly to you with it's head lowered and tail wagging. This is a submissive sign of respect to you. Then you know you're doing it right.

    ETA: I'd like to point out there is a difference between head lowered and body lowered/cowering. You need to know the difference.

  6. #6

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    If you have not already seen it, try and get hold of a copy of Leslie McDevitt's book "Control Unleashed"> Has lots of ways to calm and control dogs in all sorts of different ways and environments.

    One of my BC's was space needy and reactive to dogs getting into "her" space. A couple of weeks working through a few excercises from that book and the change was amazing. Still a little reactive to strange dogs but does not give a hoot if she knows the dog.
    Nev Allen
    Border River Pet Resort

  7. #7
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    Pawfectionist:

    Well it worked, and he doesn't jump any more so I'm not going to stop doing what's working, but that's not the issue I'm tackling here, it's the barking at the moment. I'd like to point out that ignoring him didn't work, yet whacking on the nose did, so I'm just going to use what I know works (plus I didn't go straight to it, I used it as a last resort).

  8. #8
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    We have an excessive barker in our family. From a young pup, he has barked to get attention, barked to get fed, barked as birds etc He belongs to my son, but comes to me for doggy day care.
    This dog is roughly 18 months old.
    I cannot stand the sound of small dogs yapping! i seriously find it annoys the crap out of me. My tolerance is zero.
    So when pup comes, he gets to play, rough, tumble, chase and the minute he barks.... He gets put on a short leash chain. Its up to him if he wishes to carry on, or stop. The moment he stopped, he'd be let off again. So here we are, 18 months on, and doesnt bark.
    Around his own home, the bark is still being reinforced by my son and his wife, so they get to enjoy the noise still.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Striker View Post
    Pawfectionist:

    Well it worked, and he doesn't jump any more so I'm not going to stop doing what's working, but that's not the issue I'm tackling here, it's the barking at the moment. I'd like to point out that ignoring him didn't work, yet whacking on the nose did, so I'm just going to use what I know works (plus I didn't go straight to it, I used it as a last resort).
    Striker, I wasn't saying you jumped straight to it, I just don't want new people coming into this thread and thinking that is the first step to tackling the problem. I'm sure you tried other solutions and that one worked for you.

    I'm not a positive only dog trainer or anything but I believe strongly in the LIMA principle (Least Invasive Minimally Aversive) in regard to techniques used. If it can be done a "better" way via the LIMA principle then I'll always suggest that first. In your case, the whack may have been the perfect choice based on the LIMA principle as there was only one whack and they learnt immediately

    Anyway...
    In regard to the fence barking, if the other dog starts up, I'd go out and call your dog. Have a tasty treat available when he comes to you to reward him with, then take him inside. If Rebel doesn't stop barking immediately and return to you, forget the treat and go and grab him and walk him inside. Another thing you can do is go and investigate the "intrusion". Rebel is trying to alert/protect you and it is your job as the boss to go and investigate and teach him that it isn't a threat and there is nothing to bark about. You can always do some lead work by walking past the fence with your dog on lead. When the other dog starts carrying on, reward Rebel for remaining calm and ignoring the barking. You may need to start a little further away from the fence, depending on his level of reactivity.

    Let us know how you get on with it all.

  10. #10
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    I used to train dogs not to jump by kneeing them in the chest as they launched - often resulted in a back flip or completely winding them. It was nasty but effective and neither of us liked it. Not to mention - not that good for my knee. If I later wanted to train jumping up - it would have been difficult because of the pain connection.

    With the current dog - I just held her so she couldn't jump. Same deal as with the barking. I don't like to use a crate for punishment but I will use it to interrupt and stop the fun. Fun things that dogs do - include barking and jumping on people - and if you don't stop it - they will do it more because it's fun. This cycle is called "self reinforcing" ie the dog is making their own fun and the only way to stop that if it's not fun for you, is to interrupted it and stop the fun and give them something else to do.

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