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Thread: Behaviour issues/barking where to start?!

  1. #1

    Default Behaviour issues/barking where to start?!

    Good evening

    Long time reader, first time poster - also first time(ish - had dogs as a child but obviously wasn't the main caregiver) dog owner.

    Earlier this year my partner and I adopted a 5 year old corgi from a family that were moving away. When we adopted her they did tell us that she had quite an loud demanding bark and growl which only sounds aggressive but isn't and that she has also spend most of her time inside as they were home mostly during the day. Other than that this lovely creature could sit, stay, play fetch, shake, come when called etc.

    So we took our beautiful girl home and I fell in love with her (always wanted a corgi) and began taking her for walks everyday and she seemed to settle into a routine pretty quickly. The only issue was we live a split property where the only thing dividing our yard from our neighbours is a metal fence (the thin pole type so basically we can completely see into our neighbours yard who are family) Our neighbour has too small children and in between hanging out washing, gardening, playing with the kids they are out a lot.

    Our dog would sit at the fence and bark at them continuously while they were in the yard or coming home/leaving (she has full view of the driveway) when we were at home inside. At the time I would just bring her inside or go outside with her and everything would be fine. I also found very first thing in the morning when I let her out she would run around the yard barking if I did not let her back in after she had gone to the toilet (she would then go back to bed) She would also bark at the possums in the trees late at night but once again bring her in all good.

    Months passed and whilst her barking annoyed me I would just fix the problem by letting her inside and our neighbour said she was generally quiet during the day so I figured it must have been an alerting/protective thing - telling us there people/things there.

    Well recently we added another dog to the mix, we bought an adorable male puppy. After we had bought the puppy and tried to settle him in (whilst she does not LOVE him she tolerates him and plays with him when in the mood/tells him to go away when she's not) I was chatting to my neighbour about the dogs when she informed me that the corgi has actually been barking a lot more lately even when we are not there and that the puppy has also started barking for hours on end when we're not home. I've actually caught the corgi barking in the middle of the yard instead of at the fence.

    So now I have two barking dogs and I am trying to train the puppy but as we're not there 24/7 as soon as they're alone they bark pretty much constantly at the fence annoying my neighbours. As the older dog's barking as escalated from -
    * Barking when we are at home at neighbours/visitors/sounds etc to -
    * Barking when we are at home + not at home at neighbours etc to -
    * Barking for long periods of time regardless if we are there and also not always at anything in particular.

    I know I have done the wrong things along the way and I'm terrified the puppy will pick up all her habits. Whenever I google/read about this issue I get a 3432 different solutions and I'm completely lost. The corgi does not generally have a lot of energy and I know exercise is hugely important but after 30 minutes walking she lies down and won't budge, when we get back she is tired for maybe an hour but then perks back up with the barking and sometimes she will just be lying inside resting and just be barking on and off softly.

    I need an action plan and if anyone can point me to some easy resources that would be great as my head is swimming in "pack leader this" and "positive reinforcement this" can a 5 year old dog really unlearn this behaviour or do I focus on the puppy and then her??
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 11-03-2014 at 10:10 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009



    I wouldn't worry about the pack leader stuff or dominance or that. Focus on what you want your dog to be doing and how you can encourage that, while also paying attention to how you can interrupt and redirect or prevent what you don't like.

    And you need to be totally consistent.

    And you're right - your older dog will teach the puppy everything she knows.

    dog fitness is not necessarily instant - you will have to build up slowly for some dogs. Tho a sit down mutiny - I'd be wanting to get her checked out at the vet to make sure she's not in pain (bad joints or sore paws) or overweight and exhausted.

    Corgies are supposed to be farm herding dogs - so they are as smart as cattle dogs or border collies. If you do not engage them mentally - I imagine all sorts of problems - like the barking. Which is entertaining fun and self reinforcing for the dog - ie if you don't go interrupt it and give her something else to do - it will get worse. I think you may have noticed it getting worse.

    Always pay attention to what the dog is doing that you like or don't like and think about what you (or the environment is providing) that might be encouraging that. Pay attention to what your dog finds motivating and put that on cue ie the dog only gets that when she does some work for you and you give permission. Eg to get outside - the dog must do a calm sit at the back door and wait for you to say "go play" and if barking starts - you go get the dog and hold her by the collar till she stops - then let her go, and see what happens - more barking - she gets marched back inside. No barking - she gets to stay outside.

    So to get your dog worn out mentally as well as physically - you need to do some trick training as well as a couple of walks. Trick training has as much value if not more than the walking - ie you can wear a dog out faster by making it figure out what it needs to do to get the reward (might be a toy-game with you or a treat depending what the dog likes best and what you're trying to train).

    There's loads of stuff in here.

    You might also want to get some help from a professional trainer/behaviourist to help with your training timing and identifying ways to stop your problems escalating and improve your dogs behaviour (and life).

    If you say where your nearest big city is or roughly what area of Australia you are in - we might be able to recommend someone near you for help.

    Oh and - never ever yell at your dog for barking. That sounds like you barking and joining in and approving.
    You might put "barking" on cue ie have a command for it and reward when the dog does it on cue but never when you have not given the cue/command/signal. I did this for my dog who can be very chatty at dinner time. And I started rewarding the pre bark - so the bark cue will actually quiet her if I reward the quiet bark. But you can also - once barking is on cue (and the dog doesn't give it away for free any more), you can train and reward for the quiet between.

    Never let your dog inside when she's barking - I will let my dog inside if she's given one alert bark - I will let her know "coming" if I can't open the door immediately but I heard her. But if she's yelling at me to let her inside - I wait for quiet. Beware of the dog(s) training you.

    One of my trainers has over 150 tricks that you can train a dog - so ten or so is nice but one new one a week is better...

    I'm currently working on fetch by name objects - which is hard for us because most of the time she'd rather do victory laps than fetch.

  3. #3


    Thank you so much Hyacinth, such helpful and practical advice I am definitely going to give these things a try.

    I think we have most definitely been rewarding the barking, my boyfriend always yells at her to stop and we always let her come bounding in out of fear for our neighbors getting agitated! She is incredibly needy and sulks all the time when she doesn't get attention and often ignores us when we call her to come in, no respect whatsoever! Hopefully some of your suggestions will help, being consistent will be the hardest part I think.

    I am in Canberra, I've googled behaviorists/trainers around here but I just get lead to the company websites with lots of great testimonials but couldn't be sure how great they are.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    These are the two trainers I've seen recommended for Canberra - if they can't help they might be able to recommend someone who can.

    Heike Hahner in Braidwood

    Raelene Koerber in Canberra
    Welcome to Raelene Koerber Training & TTouch

    Lesson one in reducing the barking outside...

    Ok - it's a bunch of lessons...

    I would ask her to sit and wait for quiet before you open the door to let her out (front or back).

    If she starts to get up or barks before you're done opening the door - shut it - swift and deliberate but not so you hurt or surprise her.

    repeat until she gets it. Shouldn't take more than 10 minutes but it will be worth it.

    If she hasn't got it after ten minutes because she's too excited - and you need to potty her - take her out on lead and make sure she goes on lead - helps if you have a magic word you say when she goes - so that becomes paired with the action and you get a faster performance... and definitely can't come back inside until she's performed.

    And while you're waiting for her to potty - you need to be completely silent and boring as possible until she goes then "magic word" and "good dog". And then you can be exciting and play with her and run around and etc.

    If you get her pottying while she's on lead - she can't blast around the yard on cat eviction patrol (what my dog does cos I trained her to cos I hate cats in my yard cos they wake me up at 2am fighting).

    You can - if you want - give her permission to blast around the yard but make sure it's clear you're telling her she has permission. Ideally - when your neighbours are not home.

    This is what I do if my dog decides it's ok to bark at the neighbours...

    First time - I tell her "enough" (that's her warning).
    Second time - I march up to her - swift and deliberate, direct and quiet - and put her collar on and hold it till she calms down.

    Note - I've spent a lot of time grabbing her collar and then giving her a treat eg do five times or so in front of the telly - it's called relationship building - practice pairing grabbing the collar - and the dog gets something great.
    So the collar grab is a good thing to her but it interrupts the bark fest. It's a little bit rewarding of the bark fest - except... she's lost her freedom to do what she wants, which being a cattle dog too and a bit of an independent thinker - she likes to be loose to do her own thing. Even if it's follow me around with her nose stuck to the back of my knee.

    Third offence - without saying anything - grab collar - and march her inside and shut the door and give her no attention for about 10 seconds after she stops demanding it. Or at least three seconds.

    Depending how trainable you think your neighbours are - you might be able to prime them up with toys or treats to chuck over the fence (not at the dog but in a big space), when the dog is quiet. First few times - they might only get three seconds of quiet then "good dog" and chuck treat/toy over the fence. Note - only do this if the dogs do not fight over toys / food.

    There is also less barking if you take the dog for a decent sniffy walk in the morning - maybe 30 mins (might have to build up to that) but even 10 mins around the block is better than nothing. Do one dog at a time if you can't get them to behave.

    I still think since you have the second dog already that you will need help setting up training plans for each separate and together.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    melbourne australia


    Barking becomes an issue from time to time here.
    I work on it, it goes away, it comes back.
    Its so tricky to avoid your dog getting the opportunity to bark at passers by, which is such fun!

    We have bernie altering his vocalisations from a bark, to a soft moan about it sound. And the rottie x bordeaux boof soft sound currently. Its less offensive but not quite what im after lol

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Rural Western Australia


    Yes barking can be pretty tricky. However when I lived in suburbia I would not tolerate gratuitous barking from my dogs. I just tell them no and frogmarch them indoors LOL. They soon get the idea that I dont approve. Mind you I kept them well exercised, mentally and physically and did a lot with them. When I go out I left mine inside because I had a neighbours dog that would run up and down the fence trying to start a fence fight.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Frosty had a bit of a sing and a drum beat (tail wag) against my mum's island kitchen bench last night. I could not see what she was so interested in until I looked at the stove opposite - dinner - lasagne and moussaka. hmm. At least she "indicated" instead of attempting to steal.

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