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  • Looking for advice (warning, long post)

    Hi all,

    So I've moved to Canberra, got a house with the missus and rescued a 13w/o male Kelpie x. General consensus is he's got a bit of Border Collie in him.

    The little bloke has been really good so far, training has progressed much more rapidly than our previous Maltese Terrier, Staffy X and Ridgeback. He's been with us a month and has taken well to the environment and training. No accidents inside within 2 weeks, learned all his basic commands and responds to them correctly 90% of the time.
    However, he's a persistent barker and is taking much longer to get it under control than any dog we've had previously. I am confident we will have it under control soon enough, but was wondering if anyone had experience with this breed that could provide advice. I've written a bit of a novella below, but figured it was best to give all info upfront instead of drawing it out over 5 pages. If you want the short version its as follows: Puppy barks for long periods of time at nothing, no discernible reason, doesn't get anything out of it but he persists.

    Some info about him: Currently is 18 weeks old. Male, intact, starting to get his adult teeth. Nothing known about his time prior to adoption, but had severe mange and very underweight (both of which were quickly rectified).

    General daily schedule:
    7am: Breakfast
    9am walk, 45 mins-1 hour
    11:30 obedience training, 15-25 mins
    12:30 lunch
    3:30 Obedience training, 15-25mins
    5:30 Walk, 35mins-1 hour
    7:30 Dinner
    8:30 Obedience training, 10 mins
    10-11pm He will come and bark at me until I follow him to his bed and tuck him in. I never respond to barking directly, I wait until 5 minutes after he's given up and moved on.

    Environment:
    Small house, larger 440sqm backyard. Free to come in/out as he pleases.
    Quiet suburb with several open off leash areas, parks etc.
    Missus is present all day, except for the occasional 10 minute run to the shops nearby.
    Has about 10 different toys that are cycled through regularly to keep them from becoming boring, various types. Around 3 available at any point in time. Has a soft shark stuffed with my old shirts he is attached to, always available.

    About the barking:
    Likes to sit in front of the gas heater, barking at it for long periods of time. Nothing wrong with the heater, had it tested.
    Barks at his toys. I understand this is natural for puppies, and they will get over it. However, he drags it on much longer than our other pups have. Sometimes he knocks one of the couch, and barks at it for 5 minutes when it won't return itself to him. Eventually he'll go get it, but after a month the time barking at toys before retrieving them hasn't reduced.
    Barks when he's exhausted at night. Generally resolved by leading him to bed. He's most insistent that I sleep too, or he will get out of bed every half hour and bark at me until I give up and go to bed (his bed is in our bedroom, in the corner. He has no complaints about it)
    Kids/cars/cats/dogs across the road. Will bark at them, and continue for another 5 minutes after they have gone.
    Socialising with other dogs: Barking and nipping in their faces. Takes a decent 30 minutes to stop, and usually involves the adult dogs giving him some 'discipline' first. Some days it's better, some days its far worse.
    Barking/whinging due to teething. Easily resolved, gum massage and chew toys.
    Barking in general. This is the main issue. Sometimes he will sit in the lounge room and bark incessantly for an hour, and we are unable to discern the reason. Usually the 2nd walk of the day is shorter as he gets too tired to continue and will begin to sit down, and his last obedience session is shorter for the same reason (will stop following instruction). He can barely keep his eyes open near the end of the day. There are also spontaneous games through the day not listed on the schedule, lots of time outside, cuddle sessions with the missus and treats in Kongs. I think we can assume he is sufficiently tired by this point, and not bored. He just sits there barking, though there doesn't seem to be anything he wants.

    How we handle it: Any time he barks more than once, he is given the 'Quiet' command. If he responds, he is rewarded with a small treat and the clicker, as well as pats and approval. When he inevitably starts again, the process is repeated but a longer interval between action and reward is given. If he chooses to bark directly at a person, he will be ignored for the first bark and the 2nd time they will leave the room. This generally resolves the targeted barking for a few minutes.

    The barking started around 3 weeks ago, and has gotten progressively worse since. He has shown little sign of improvement, and any improvement made on the day disappears the next. I know 3 weeks is a short period of time, but it seems strange that with other dogs we've had the barking was the first issue resolved and all others took months, while he's doing the reverse. I'm sure it will be resolved in another month or so but would appreciate any knowledge people could pass on.

    Thank you, and here's an early pic of him

    Dog.jpg
    Last edited by CanberraKelpie; 05-09-2017, 05:11 PM.

  • #2
    I would hazard at least some of the barking is because he is overtired. That's a lot of solid training for a little guy with TWO long walks! He is just a baby, you don't want to strain his muscles and over exert him. You also don't want to forget enforced nap periods in the day. ...and to vary his training to different amounts each day. Studies have shown they learn better with lots of little training chunks (think 5-10 minutes, 3 times a day) than with 30 minute to 1 hour chunks. It gives his mind to recharge and absorb what you are teaching. (and then a couple of times a week have your "big" obedience session, be it in class or self run)

    HERE IS A LINK to the average amount of exercise and type of exercise to be giving a puppy at each age. Yes he's a kelpie, but he's still a developing baby and you certainly don't want a walk addict. You also want some concentrated training on him learning to settle.

    Instead of so many and such long walks, give him other exercise options to stretch other muscles. The link will give you some ideas. You will have time aplenty for a walking buddy when he grows up!

    He sounds like my guy - all together too fond of his voice. He has been the slowest to learn to shut up out of any dog my family has had, barring the terrier we got at 5 years old. He's now 8 months old and while significantly lessened, there is still a bit of barking when I get home that I have to wait to end before giving attention. It is a bit of a breed trait (spaniel), but it's also him just being a bit of an obnoxious demanding brat (GET MY BALL! GIVE ME FOOD! LET ME IN!!) and he does not get what he wants for it. Time out works effectively well on mine.

    It does seem he is needing some more clearer guidance so some things to try:

    Likes to sit in front of the gas heater, barking at it for long periods of time. Nothing wrong with the heater, had it tested.
    Remove him from the heater and put him in time out in a different room without you. No words, just collect him and immediately take him away from the heater when he starts barking. No rewards either.

    If he seems concerned about the item, put a bed in the area. Reward him for laying on that bed quietly. Teach him to lay quietly next to the heater instead of barking at it.

    (he may see it as a kind of toy)


    Barks at his toys.
    As soon as he starts barking, take the toy off him and pack it away. Only leave the ones rotated for chewing out, the more interactive ones and fun ones get put away unless you're going out and he needs something to do.

    Barks when he's exhausted at night.
    Perhaps have his bed in a different room, so that he can start learning to settle in his bed. He will sook about this, but it IS important he learns to have a nap/rest/settle without you present.

    Kids/cars/cats/dogs across the road. Will bark at them, and continue for another 5 minutes after they have gone.
    A game for you, called "look at that (look at me)"
    No commands
    When he looks at one of those objects, immediately give him a treat BEFORE he barks.
    He looks again, give him a treat. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. Soon, he will start looking at the item, then immediately looking at you. When that starts happening, reward his second look. He is learning to think "i see something exciting, look at my owner!".
    Sometimes, you can reward him with that thing he is looking at!
    Over time, you can reduce the distance. If he starts barking frantically, turn around and walk away. He's not thinking anymore and he can't learn if he's not thinking.

    Socialising with other dogs: Barking and nipping in their faces. Takes a decent 30 minutes to stop, and usually involves the adult dogs giving him some 'discipline' first. Some days it's better, some days its far worse.
    If he starts barking or nipping other dogs, walk over, leash him and take him away. The other dogs are likely hoping you will intervene, so 30 minutes is a long time for them to put up with him being naughty! Naughty puppies do not get to harass the dogs. That's not socialising, that is practicing how to be a brat.

    Barking/whinging due to teething. Easily resolved, gum massage and chew toys.
    Fair enough, wait that one out.

    Barking in general. This is the main issue. Sometimes he will sit in the lounge room and bark incessantly for an hour, and we are unable to discern the reason. Usually the 2nd walk of the day is shorter as he gets too tired to continue and will begin to sit down, and his last obedience session is shorter for the same reason (will stop following instruction). He can barely keep his eyes open near the end of the day. There are also spontaneous games through the day not listed on the schedule, lots of time outside, cuddle sessions with the missus and treats in Kongs. I think we can assume he is sufficiently tired by this point, and not bored. He just sits there barking, though there doesn't seem to be anything he wants.
    I'm thinking in part, he really is overtired and also he needs to learn to settle his brain and mind. There is an exercise, called "Capturing calmness". Here is a video on it.


    and some days he will just be barkier. Tonight my guy, who was down to 3 or 4 barks when I get home then glorious silence, has been a real barky shit. I'm pretty sure it's a combination of:
    1. Very cold and wet from the rain (he's inside now drying off, do not worry)
    2. He's currently going through a fear period, so he's more worried than usual about not being with me
    3. Wants his dinner.

    I'm waiting it out. When he's quieter, he will get his dinner (delivered with training)

    I kind of want to strangle the little guy but...well he's a dog and his barking has significantly improved. I can forgive him being a little cranky while wet and hungry.

    Comment


    • #3
      I would hazard at least some of the barking is because he is overtired. That's a lot of solid training for a little guy with TWO long walks! You don't want to strain his muscles and over exert him. You also don't want to forget enforced nap periods in the day. ...and to vary his training to different amounts to break all that up. Studies have shown they learn better with lots of little training chunks (think 5-10 minutes, 3 times a day) than with 30 minute to 1 hour chunks. It gives his mind to recharge and absorb what you are teaching. (and then a couple of times a week have your "big" obedience session, be it in class or self run, because sometimes it's necessary to do a big session!)

      HERE IS A LINK to the average amount of exercise and type of exercise to be giving a puppy at each age. Yes he's a kelpie, but he's still a developing baby and you certainly don't want a walk addict. You also want some concentrated training on him learning to settle.

      Instead of so many and such long walks, give him other exercise options to stretch other muscles. The link will give you some ideas. You will have time aplenty for a walking buddy when he grows up!

      He sounds like my guy - all together too fond of his voice. He has been the slowest to learn to shut up out of any dog my family has had, barring the terrier we got at 5 years old. He's now 8 months old and while significantly lessened, there is still a bit of barking when I get home that I have to wait to end before giving attention. It is a bit of a breed trait (spaniel), but it's also him just being a bit of an obnoxious demanding brat (GET MY BALL! GIVE ME FOOD! LET ME IN!!) and he does not get what he wants for it. Time out works effectively well on mine.

      It does seem he is needing some more clearer guidance so some things to try:

      Likes to sit in front of the gas heater, barking at it for long periods of time. Nothing wrong with the heater, had it tested.
      Remove him from the heater and put him in time out in a different room without you. No words, just collect him and immediately take him away from the heater when he starts barking. No rewards either.

      If he seems concerned about the item, put a bed in the area. Reward him for laying on that bed quietly. Teach him to lay quietly next to the heater instead of barking at it.

      (he may see it as a kind of toy)


      Barks at his toys.
      As soon as he starts barking, take the toy off him and pack it away. Only leave the ones rotated for chewing out, the more interactive ones and fun ones get put away unless you're going out and he needs something to do.

      Barks when he's exhausted at night.
      Perhaps have his bed in a different room, so that he can start learning to settle in his bed. He will sook about this, but it IS important he learns to have a nap/rest/settle without you present.

      Kids/cars/cats/dogs across the road. Will bark at them, and continue for another 5 minutes after they have gone.
      A game for you, called "look at that (look at me)"
      No commands
      When he looks at one of those objects, immediately give him a treat BEFORE he barks.
      He looks again, give him a treat. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. Soon, he will start looking at the item, then immediately looking at you. When that starts happening, reward his second look. He is learning to think "i see something exciting, look at my owner!".
      Sometimes, you can reward him with that thing he is looking at!
      Over time, you can reduce the distance. If he starts barking frantically, turn around and walk away. He's not thinking anymore and he can't learn if he's not thinking.

      Socialising with other dogs: Barking and nipping in their faces. Takes a decent 30 minutes to stop, and usually involves the adult dogs giving him some 'discipline' first. Some days it's better, some days its far worse.
      If he starts barking or nipping other dogs, walk over, leash him and take him away. The other dogs are likely hoping you will intervene, so 30 minutes is a long time for them to put up with him being naughty! Naughty puppies do not get to harass the dogs. That's not socialising, that is practicing how to be a brat.

      Barking/whinging due to teething. Easily resolved, gum massage and chew toys.
      Fair enough, wait that one out.

      Barking in general. This is the main issue. Sometimes he will sit in the lounge room and bark incessantly for an hour, and we are unable to discern the reason. Usually the 2nd walk of the day is shorter as he gets too tired to continue and will begin to sit down, and his last obedience session is shorter for the same reason (will stop following instruction). He can barely keep his eyes open near the end of the day. There are also spontaneous games through the day not listed on the schedule, lots of time outside, cuddle sessions with the missus and treats in Kongs. I think we can assume he is sufficiently tired by this point, and not bored. He just sits there barking, though there doesn't seem to be anything he wants.
      I'm thinking in part, he really is overtired in addition to needing to learn how to settle his brain and mind. There is an exercise, called "Capturing calmness". Here is a video on it! You've tired that body out, but the brain is still ticking!


      and some days he will just be barkier. Tonight my guy, who was down to 3 or 4 barks when I get home then glorious silence, has been a real barky shit. I'm pretty sure it's a combination of:
      1. Very cold and wet from the rain (he's inside now drying off, do not worry)
      2. He's currently going through a fear period, so he's more worried than usual about not being with me
      3. Wants his dinner.

      I'm waiting it out. When he's quieter, he will get his dinner (delivered with training)

      I kind of want to strangle the little guy but...well he's a dog and his barking has significantly improved. I can forgive him being a little cranky while wet and hungry.

      Comment


      • #4
        That was exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. I'll discuss your suggestions with the missus tonight, I'm pretty certain we will agree to implement the majority of them. You've been a great help.

        Comment


        • #5
          Awesome post from thistle the dog...

          key bits of info for me - is what is going on when he's barking - and what do you do...

          Barking is self rewarding and will continue to grow if you do nothing... so that's a bad idea.

          But scolding just sounds like you're joining in and helping - also a bad idea.

          My dog is VERY chatty about food, I put barking on cue, so I could put quiet on cue... but mostly I pay the barking only when I've cued it. So if I'm getting a bark fest I want to stop - I cue some barking and feed that, and then when there is uncued barking - I don't feed that - I just look at her like she's stupid. And when she becomes quiet - I cue some other stuff like sit-drop-stand and pay that.

          If barking continues - I put her on lead - even when we're inside. I don't know why this shuts her up but it does. Unless the doorbell rings. There are situations I want her to bark - ie when she needs to be let out, or if someone comes down the driveway...

          Most of Canberra has a lot of wildlife - compared to other cities - there will be exciting noises this time of year - last night I had possum (hope it was a possum) jumping on the roof and running around (Argh), we got some barking but I ignored it and she gave up, if it had persisted I'd have put her on lead in her bed (which is next to mine).

          Another thing you might want to try for your puppy is crate training. A dog that is happy in a crate - is really helpful when you visit someone who won't let you bring the dog into their house and they don't have a secure back yard or just so your dog doesn't freak out in a crate at the vet. There is a dvd called "Crate games" that shows you how to train your dog to love being in a crate - but mostly if you just put some of his chew treats in there - he will figure it out eg stuffed frozen kong.

          And then you can play the "whats the time mr wolf" ie treats for being quiet in crate, and all alone if barking. But a lot of dogs feel more secure with a roof over their heads - even an old moving box on its side would be helpful and there'd be less barking.

          Barking at stuff - advice offered by thistle the dog - is great - remove the stuff or the dog. For a puppy, you need only do this for 10 to 30 seconds before bringing it back to see what it's choice is - more barking - repeat - more barking after second chance choice - no more toy. Dogs - especially kelpie mixes are usually very quick to figure this out.

          And with a dog like this - it's learning from you ALL the time - it will learn all your patterns. And it will train you. Beware of that.

          And I would shorten up his training sessions - to no more than five mins all up and break that up into 2 mins of train (or less) and a play (for a minute or so) and then 2 mins of training. What I do is either set a timer - or count out some treats - when the treats are all gone - session over, have a play.

          Play can involve a little bit of fetch, or tug, or find the treat... or hide and seek: curl up in a ball - or hide behind a sulo bin and lots pats if he investigates, or chase the boss (never chase the dog)

          You can have lots of very short sessions but I would allow time between for potty, sleeping etc eg 30 mins between at least. He's 13 weeks so I would break it up. The walks are way too long for healthy joint development.

          Love to see some pix, try attaching. If you link them with http mods will have to approve but we will get to it.

          You may also want to investigate if any of the local agility clubs do puppy foundations training...
          sigpic

          Comment

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