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Thread: Discipline - Not Working!

  1. #1

    Default Discipline - Not Working!

    Hi all,
    Im new here, trying to get ideas on what we can do to stop our 1 year old Maltese x Shih Tzu to stop barking. He has just turned one over the weekend, but the last 2-3 weeks his barking has stepped up a notch and we are getting around 4 hours sleep each night as he is waking us up between 3-4 every morning and wont stop growling, grunting, barking, and this morning, howling!
    He gets played with every day, goes for walks a few times a week, when we dont have time we just make sure we play fetch for a longer time, we took him to the beach on the weekend too. He has plenty of toys and plays with them all, has chew bones etc too.
    6 months ago was when it all started, so we started telling him off for barking, after 3 weeks or so this hadn't made any difference to him, he just didn't seem to get it, so we got him a barking collar and started it on a really low level and over a couple of weeks he hadn't learned and out of 100 the level was set to about 60 and he still hadn't got it. The collar broke, so we got an automatic one this time, the collar picks its level but this didn't stop him, so we regrettably set it to the highest level, he still barks over the top of this sometimes, gets zapped and carries on! He has learned though to be quieter in his barking so the collar doesn't detect him, smart dog you would think. When the sun goes down he isn't too bad, hes pretty good, he sleeps outside as he has always preferred it to inside, and waking up early makes it easier when hes outside. About once or twice a week we might get a night where we can sleep normally through the night, (these nights do not coincide with days we play with him more etc), the rest of the nights he wakes up 3-4am and starts growling and grunting under his breath, with the odd few bigger barks in between. Some nights he also carrys on like this at 1-2am as well, and again later on. When he barks the neighbours dog does too sometimes, this sets off every dog in the area!
    We have made it clear that we don't want him barking, as we are in a close neighbourhood, and even his slight barking can be heard, especially since he is outside our bedroom we can hear him even more. We have told him to be quiet, consistently every time we hear him bark, tied him up, smacked him (really hard sometimes too, well not that hard, but he doesnt even budge), having his collar on, vinegar spray in the face, ignoring him, newspaper, and wasabi, all for a long enough period to try and get him to stop, but nothing seems to be stopping him.
    After this morning my fiance has basically said that if he barks again tomorrow hes gone as we need he works on machines and cant be running on such a lack of sleep, we have both had 3-4 hours for the last 4 nights.
    2 days ago, Jimmys collar stopped working so it is being fixed, he has his old one on but hes clicked its not working.
    This morning I had to drop fiance at the airport and the dog was howling when we left, we had tried to tell him off over and over, but had to go as running late. Half an hour later when I got back he was still howling! This was at 5am in a close neighbourhood.
    I have an appointment booked for tonight with a trainer for a consult, and he might be able to stay with her for a week and basically be handed back trained and then we just keep up with what he did.
    Im just not sure what else we can do, we are going insane here, After smacking him this morning to try and get him to stop I was crying, I am just at my wits end, lack of sleep and hate that the only way to stop him barking for a couple of minutes is by smacking him.
    Hes a very loved dog but we just want him to stop carrying on like this.
    Besides spending $300 to hopefully have him trained by a professional, and work out, what else is there?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    I'm sorry you are dealing with this. It is obviously very distressing for you.

    You seem to be convinced that the dog knows what is expected of him. I actually doubt very much that he does. Giving a dog attention by yelling or even smacking is more likely to enforce the behaviour than to stop it. One of the reasons for that may also be because he has no idea what he is supposed to do instead of barking. This may seem completely obvious to you, but I doubt it is to the dog. If he could be rewarded for NOT barking, he would probably get it, but that isn't easy to achieve unless you teach him to bark and stop on command.

    What I would do first is to get the dog to sleep inside from now on. It shouldn't matter if he prefers it or not. There is less chance that he will bark if he is inside and even if he does, at least the neighbours won't hear him as much. It may even be worth crate training him, which would encourage him to sleep through the night. If you do a search on crate training on this forum, you will find lots of info on this.

    Also, walking him a few times a week may just not be enough. I have always walked my dogs every day, often twice a day. It isn't just about the exercise, it is also about the mental stimulation they get from being out of the house and yard and smelling around, etc. It may also make him feel less obsessed with defending his territory. Plus, it would get him into a routine which may be beneficial too.

    And I'm afraid to say that I have my doubts about someone else training the dog and then handing it back to you with the problem fixed. Especially for something like barking which is probably very much influenced by his environment.

    And please, please, please stop smacking your dog! It is clearly not giving him the message you want to give him and most likely it just thoroughly confuses him. You would have to get your timing absolutely spot on each and every time for any physical correction - including the sprays - to have any effect at all. It is not worth the emotional stress on you and your dog.

    I would highly recommend doing some reward based training with your dog. This is not only good for bonding and general obedience, but it is a great way to offer a dog some mental stimulation. You can teach him some cute tricks just for the fun of it and you will both enjoy the challenge and the result. And all you need is some treats and patience.

  3. #3


    I hate smacking him, which is why we are trying to get help. Working with treats just doesnt work with him, he just gets too excited! I have tried so often and find the only way to train him is just being consistent and he eventually gets it, treats just makes him focus solely on getting the treat out of my hand and in no way does he try and do what im asking, which is why im not prepared to try and teaching him the barking on command as I can just see it going horribly wrong. Ive tried walking him every day at points, but if I walk him too much he gets over excited and wont sleep and ends up running around all night playing with toys etc so cant win either way. With the training, I was at least hoping that they might be able to at least make the main start with it, and we continue with it at home, as he should know whats expected. Talking with the lady tonight so will see what she recommends. In the middle of the night I tell him quiet the first time he barks and I have to get out of bed, and I stand by the door ready to open and pounce so I catch him as soon as hes barked. I tell him quiet every time I tell him off for barking. We never used to smack him at all, but after 3 weeks or something of no improvement added a slight tap on the bum into the mix. We thought about crate training, but he wakes up early and would end up us having to get up and let him out, and likely result in barking anyway. If he at least learns to stop barking we can tell him to be quiet and he will. Right now he either flat out doesnt listen, or he listens then carries on a minute or so later. He basically works himself up by wandering around in a circle, tying him up until he calmed down used to work for a week or two but no longer.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    Having a food motivated dog is the best situation you can have for training. If you are consistent and just wait till he does what you ask him to before you give him the treat - even if it takes half an hour at first - he will get it. And he will start working for food and start reacting faster and faster. Just ignore him when he gets exited: look bored and uninteresting and keep the treat out of sight and reach. You may even try clicker training. Because that will enable you to have the treats safely somewhere up high (when you're at home obviously).

    It appears to me that you feel a bit helpless in regards to how to train the dog in general. Which is quite normal. But it doesn't have to be that way. I was a complete novice in dog training when I got my first dog. Did an ok job with her, but also made some big mistakes, in hindsight. So when I got a new dog, I did lots of reading on training, asked lots of questions here, and I have trained my current dog with clicker and treats and she is very well behaved and we even had fun doing it. If it wouldn't have worked, I would have enrolled in obedience classes though. Most people I know with well behaved dogs have done classes, even the ones that had trained several dogs before. And I believe more general training has an effect on all aspects of the dog's behaviour, including getting overexited.

    I believe the idea with the crate training is that you decide when it is time for him to get up, not him. I didn't do it with my dog, but there are lots of experts on crate training on the forum. It takes effort and time, but the result is - or should be - a dog that sleeps through the night.

    I hope the trainer can give you some helpful advice. It's an awful feeling when your dog seems more like a burden than a joy...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    What do you do when he wakes you up?

    If you get up and give him attention - he learns that barking and etc works.

    Is there something that happens at 3 in the morning that sets him off - eg neighbour going to shift work or freight train or rats or possums or cats? Is there something you can do to prevent him hearing it.

    You also need to be aware that there may be people up to no good around your area, and barking dog is a good thing in this case. I usually check what my dog is barking at - just in case.

    Most dogs could use a 30 minute walk or more every day. Mine gets at least an hour in the mornign and again in the evening - usually longer cos we never want to go home. Walks a few times a week just aren't going to cut it. What mental work are you doing with him, eg trick training, to wear his mind out?

    If you scold for barking - you get more barking. This is because your dog understands that as you joining with approval - like when one dog starts, and they all join in. The pack working together. And where you're at now, clearly demonstrates how well your strategy (of more barking) is working for you.

    It's like when a child wants a lolly in the supermarket - you have a number of choices:
    - give in immediately - not always a good strategy but better than giving in eventually.
    - making the kid work for it, eg if you're good and help me do the shopping you can choose a medium sized lolly before we go the check out.
    - never giving in. If you decide you're going to hold out, and then you give in, you teach your dog to bark longer and longer to get what he wants.

    Electric collars are illegal to put on dogs in most states. I think Queensland might be an exception. And in Victoria you can do it but you need the supervision of a professional (licenced?) dog trainer, eg someone like Nekhbet - because if you don't know what you're doing - it won't help and can ruin your dog (make it freak out in ways you don't want).

    All your punishments risk "fall out".
    Transitioning To "Do-Land" | Susan Garrett's Dog Training Blog
    That's where your dog gets naughtier because your dog doesn't know what you want. It's clear this dog has no idea why you're punishing him.

    You'd be way better off teaching him to bark on command - which should be easy, he likes food and he likes barking. And then teaching him to be quiet on command. Ie when he takes a breath say "quiet" and reward that too.

    And when you ask for a bark - reward the soft quiet noises... ie most barks come with a pre-bark - quiet growl... reward that with a treat.

    The bizarre thing about teaching your dog to bark on command (or spin circles on command in the case of a cattle dog), is that suddenly barking has value - so it is less likely to be given away for free. Ie how many plumbers do you know who give away their skill for free all the time? Not any here.

    With the professional trainer/behaviourist, you need to get someone to train you - not the dog. Because if you don't learn what you need to do, you will undo anything the dog trainer does.

    I don't know where you are so I can't recommend a trainer. The obvious choice training franchise for stopping barking - don't work. My neighbour and I can vouch for that, his dog still barks its head off all the time after having them in.

    If I smacked you every day for no apparent reason - what would you think about me.

    If he's so excited about treats, you need to use less exciting treats. And you need to start with a game called "its yer choice". Or basically if you can sit nicely you get a treat... if you can hold a nice drop down, you get a treat... and it make take a bit of frustration and barking before that happens.

    But you could just say "yes", every time he barks and give him a treat. Do that five times and then pair it with a word like "speak" (bark) yes treat. That's what I did...

    You really need a good behavourist and people trainer to explain how to get him to do what you want. All the things you've tried obviously don't work and the things that might work - you need someone to show you how to teach your dog what you want him to do.

    I would seriously think about crate training - because if there is stuff out in the back yard that is setting your dog off at night - it's going to be hard to stop that without a crate. And remember - never ever go to the crate, or the back door while he's barking for your attention...

    Having written that - barking is a fun thing to do all by itself even if you don't join in and give him attention and the usual way to show what you do want is to go quietly and catch the dog and put him on lead and back in the crate. And cover the crate up so he can't see out. If he's quiet, you can lift a bit of the cover (and/or give him a treat) and if he gets noisy, cover it up again.

    My dog knows that barking at me from the crate - makes me walk further away and then out of sight... so she doesn't do it for very long. If she starts barking when I'm going to let her out, I turn around and walk away until she stops etc. Giving in eventually - teaches your dog to bark more and longer for what he wants.

  6. #6


    Totally agree with some of what the others have posted but just wanted to add - maybe treat him like a new puppy. I have a puppy right now. It's all about routine. We have feeding time, we have play time, we have inside time, cuddle time and bed time is absolutely bed time. I don't crate (not that I think there's anything wrong with that) but I do confine all of my new dogs for their first few weeks/months even at night. If I didn't, I am confident they would spend half the night (in random installments) annoying me, annoying the older dog, annoying the cat, playing with their toys, destroying the house etc.

    There are a few potential things to consider. Your dog would not be carrying on like this unless:
    1) he doesn't actually know what else to do and he is not aware that you don't like it
    2) he doesn't think you know what you're doing and you're inconsistent (hence not the pack leader)
    3) he has a mental disorder

    So if this were my dog, effective immediately I would introduce a sturdy routine and house rules. We have inside time and outside time - when inside, they walk (not run), they can eat and drink, we have hug and cuddle time and some training. There is no playing, no wrestling, no chasing each other etc (my dogs will both be over 40kg though so you might have a bit more flexibility here). You decide what amount of barking you are happy with. I do not accept my dogs barking with other neighbourhood dogs. This is taught by me reprimanding them when they do and blocking them from the window (the source of why they want to bark). Neither my 2 year old or my 5 month old will bark in response to other dogs now.

    Bed time is bed time. There is no leaving the bed after you have been told to go to bed - unless you're called up onto our bed lol. If they do leave their bed, they are blocked, and told no and to go back to bed. They are praised the first few times for returning to bed. After maybe 3 times, it's just moved back to bed and ignored. Puppies are blocked into their beds initially. I have never had to do this more than like 5 times with any dog - they realise pretty quickly that if I give a command, it will be followed through.

    Hyacinth makes a great point. When you have control - ie by restricting your dog's access to the world and you by crating for example, you can then more easily condition the behaviours you want to see. I lock my dogs in the back section of the yard during the day. They used to go berserk when anyone approached - almost leaping over the fence with excitement. This was dangerous as they whacked into each other and the metal fence/gate and often ended up crying and releasing frustration on each other. So, I stopped moving towards them until they both sat down. Now they know I will only move closer whilst they are both sitting. This is such an easy and effective method.

    Dogs (like children) need to know where the boundaries are - otherwise they feel scared and pressured to take on more responsibility. Some dogs are cool with that - like my doberman, and will happily step up into the top spot if they can. Other dogs just freak out, bark at everything, become sleep deprived and generally discontent. I would definitely recommend introducing routine and rules to the house. This does not mean your dog will love you less - everyone who sees Sammy (my doberman) and I says that we have the strongest bond they have ever seen between a dog and human and both of my dogs are loyal, loving and affectionate. They're just also balanced, obedient and know where they stand in life - which means despite the fact that they're huge, they're actually very easy dogs to live with (both are sleeping on the floor in the loungeroom as I type this) and I never have to think about rehoming them.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    SE QLD


    We have told him to be quiet, consistently every time we hear him bark, tied him up, smacked him (really hard sometimes too, well not that hard, but he doesnt even budge), having his collar on, vinegar spray in the face, ignoring him, newspaper, and wasabi, all for a long enough period to try and get him to stop, but nothing seems to be stopping him.
    I am probably not adding anything to what the others have said.... but not all of the above are going to help. If anything it will make him fearful of you which is the opposite of what you want.

    If it was me, I would be bringing him side for starters whether he likes it or not. Crate training as Hyacinth suggested would work great. Put him somewhere quiet where he can't hear any outside noises that will set him off. Even try bringing him into your room to see if he will stay quiet. My two will bark if I let them sleep outside. We live on acreage so it isn't really an issue - but I can't stand their barking (Bella has the most annoying bark in the world). When they are inside they do not make a peep.

    You need to be willing to put in the time and effort. He is still only a puppy and does not come pre-programmed with good behaviour. I would stop hitting him... I use to hit Harley when he didn't do the right thing (before I knew the right way to do things) and it has effected him in a way I don't like. If I could turn back time I would change that in an instant and I don't think I will ever stop feeling guilty for treating him like that. It is honestly the last thing any dog deserves.
    Last edited by jadielee87; 04-04-2012 at 06:41 AM.

    There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

  8. #8


    Thanks for all the tips everyone, I tried to reply yesterday but I must have clicked the wrong button as its not there?
    Went to the trainer last night, she has said that hes fine and it is the way we are going about it, which I thought was the case we were just unsure what to do as have never had problems like this before.
    So we are going to try crating him, or just the ensuite for the first few days until we get a crate, let him out in the morning, top up his food bowl as I do every day and give him a treat of some kind, I made a few ice blocks with sausage in them the other day so he got his first one this morning, I dont think it lasted long as he didn't leave it alone in the 10 minutes before I left for work.
    Jimmy slept in the ensuite last niht from 10pm-6.15am with not a sound, which is excellent, he didnt put up a fight to being in there either, I just shut the blinds so he wouldn't even know it was morning which I think helped as being in brisbane the sun is up early and this i think is partly why hes wide awake at 3-4am outside as the birds are out chirping.
    WhenI get home from work he gets to calm down for a bit, then we will go for a walk and then come back, outside for 15min maybe to calm down, then inside for dinner and sit either in his crate or on his mat for half hour to an hour, then outside play time until bed.
    This morning he was fine, I left for work at 7 and my partner was still in bed and he said Jimmy was howling like he did yesterday from pretty much the time I left. His barking collar will be sent back to us today after being fixed, I think he needs it just to control the barking during the day as without it he seems to go all out, at least until hes broken out of the habbit, its not an electric collar, its a static shock one and ive never heard of them being illegal, im sure if they were they couldnt be sold in pet stores surely? Anyway, with it on he is much better behaved.
    With the howling today, hubby is again convinced its not going to work, hes fed up and just wants him gone. I don't want this to happen as I love my puppy, he does too he is just over the barking, he couldnt come with me to the trainer last night as he was in adelaide and i picked him up on my way home.
    I think now with the right help we will head in the right direction and within a week I think he will be pretty much right.
    But now what do I do if he keeps barking during the day? We can't have him howling because we arent there, I hope he wont have to wear his collar forever!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Perth, WA


    Sounds like controlling the barking at night was a success, hope that continues.

    Maybe he has some separation anxiety if he's howling after you've left, my hubby used to say that our little dog was like that when I left the house.

    Hoping you can get your little dog sorted, lots of walking and training for tricks like others have suggested will tire him out.

    Are you able to walk him when you get up so that by the time he's eaten his frozen sausage he'll be tired and have a snooze ? Could there be something outside that scares him, does he have a kennel out there that he can go into ?

    Good luck with Jimmy

  10. #10


    He has a kennel, and a bed that he can lie on as well, has plenty of toys etc as well. At the moment I can't really get up earlier to take him for a morning walk as I will be getting up at at least 5.30 which I really struggle with but hope to be getting a car of my own in a month or so so that will mean I get home 45 mins earlier and leave for work 45 mins later too so gain a fair chunk of time.
    Nothing outside that seems to scare him, well nothing that stands out. We have a horse over our back fence but he doesnt even flinch when the horse is near our fence any more so its not that.
    Im hoping that a few days of his new routine will set him right, but what do I do with hubby hes got a negative look on everything and thinks it wont change, told him ive put up with him for 9 years and hes not perfect either but have told him he if he can't do what the trainer has told me, to do nothing at all and just stay out of jimmys view so he doesnt even know he is there as I dont want him undoing what I am trying to do

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