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becky g's picture
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Joined: 2014-04-30

My dobe, Kaiser, recently came to us from another home.  His previous home was set well back from the road and they didn't have lots of visitors.  My house is quite close to the road and we have a lot of walkers and people on bikes going by when the weather's nice.  When anyone passes by, Kaiser & our other dog, Felix, bark like there is a killer out there!  None of these people come into our driveway or yard, they just go by on the street.  The dogs go nuts!  I wouldn't mind a couple "I'm here" barks from them, but it goes on even when the person is out of sight.  I suspect they feed off of each other and that keeps it going.  I've tried ignoring them and they just keep on barking.  If I can get their attention, I can ususally get them to quiet down, but that's easier said than done.  I've tried whistles, squeaky toys, touching them on the back, etc.  Nothing seems to snap them out of it.  I usually get tired of trying to quiet them down & put them in their kennels to calm down.  Neither of them bark at people going by or coming into our yard when we're outside.  Aside from keeping my blinds closed all the time, I'm at a loss.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Thanks!

Katopup's picture
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Joined: 2014-05-03

Pet Profiles

Oh my goodness this must be driving you crazy.

Do they stop barking when the blinds are closed?

If they do, try shutting the blinds when they're barking then immediately opening the blinds when they settle, try this a few minutes a few times a day, but keep the blinds closed in between so they aren't getting self rewarded from barking which is only reinforcing the behaviour.

You can also try using toys or treats of high value to distract them from what's going on outside that triggers their barking.  Of course this would take some effort and patience n your behalf but the results would be well worth it in the end.

There are lots of videos from Dogmantics on youtube as well as Victoria Stilwell's 'It's Me or the Dog' videos on youtube and on Animal planet on line that address these types of issues.

I hope this helps, good luck!  (: 

Lady Kate's picture
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Joined: 2009-10-28

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OOO Becky.. I feel your pain.. Sofia has always been as Silent as a Lamb... the only time she'd ever bark is when it was really important. People could ring the bell and unless she felt a threat, she would never even whisper..

Bella on the other hand barks and barks and now has convinced Sofia to do the same.. Our house is situated on a golf course and is all glass that faces the fairway.. It's chaos and frustration especially during a tournament.. The Cesar Milan STTT STTTT works sometimes...a distraction does too..but you're right Katopup.. it takes constant watching and STTT-ing. I"m going to look at Victoria Stilwell's youtube right this very minute.. thank you.. also will keep an eye on this thread for more answers..

Oz Dobe's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-25

Hi I share your frustration. I love Herr Dobermans work, but maybe he went a little overboard with the alarm side of things:)

Storm is a work in progress as I guess many dobes are (not just dobes either). The problem is that barking is self reinforcing. They get a buzz from barking. It makes them feel good. And reinforcing that again is the fact that when they bark, the people they are barking at move away. The dog thinks its beaten off a stranger, and then feels it has some kind of control over the world by barking, so they keep doing it. It's nigh impossible to stop IMHO. All you can do is try to distract them with something equally as enjoyable (for them).

I've read that teaching a dog to bark on command then to stop on command can work, but with Storm, I'm not so sure I want to go down that rabbit hole.

I'm working on a combination of things to try to divert Storm from performing what she thinks is part of her day job (she's inside at night and doesn't bark). They all rely on me being there with her though. I would have great difficulty stopping her barking if I was not home.

I'm working on trying to find something that is either more enjoyable (to Storm) or at least equally enjoyable that Storm would enjoy doing instead of barking. Chewing is self reinforcing and enjoyable for dogs (it releases endorphins as they chew) so I make sure I have a juicy marrow bone around. If she's chewing on a bone, she has less of a hair trigger in the barking department.

I also try to offer Storm a chew toy for a game of tug to distract her from barking. This seems to work quite well. I'm thinking for when she's really getting into it, a lure might work better to distract her. I think I'll try getting her favorite Kong jumping jack, and attach a rope to it and dragging it past her while she's in the act of barking should be enough to distract her. I think her prey drive will do the rest.

I also try using high value treats and start an impromptu training session. When barking, she is highly distracted so I just use really basic commands - sit - stay- etc. I used to treat her when she was quiet, but she started barking just to be quiet to get treated, so I had to get her to perform other simple commands instead.

As a last resort I use a time out and bring her inside and ignore her for a while. Her living area is quite sterile from the outside world, but quite available to her human family, so it is easier to take her away from the situation for a while.

If you don't have this sterile kind of area, maybe you could make a simple dog run for short time outs? Essentially a place they can chill out for a little while to calm down. The problem with barking seems to be. The more they do it, the more they love it, the more they do it...

Ultimately these guys are just performing their duties as programmed from before birth, so its up to us to find a way to change their behavior so that its more beneficial for us. I'm not there yet, but these are just some of the things I'm trying.

I will say that I have tried taking advantage of the startle reflex using a shaker. I'm not entirely comfortable with this, so I have stopped using it and am getting the same results without it. I felt that a shaker can was too confronting for Storm, so I softened the 'tool' by putting a bunch of very small bolts into a plastic container, and I shook it to 'startle' her out of barking.

I had some success with it, and it didn't seem to cause fear in her, but I just felt there had to be a better way than using this method, and so far, what I mentioned above seems to be doing the job to an equal if not better degree. I'm trying to build trust, so manipulating Storm through her reflexes feels a bit like using Akido to stop a child from crying...

talisin's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-25

I agree this is the most frustrating of the bad habits; I never did get my collie to stop with the obsessive barking he was just totally psycho barking...it did take a touch to get him to stop.....I remember a long time ago with the Ridgeback we had he was in that zone of not hearing us and my dad took his car keys out of his pocket and threw them so they landed right at his butt on the floor and I tell ya that dog looked around like god had spoken and never did it again and if he started to do anything negative my dad would just jingle his keys in his pocket and that dog would cease whatever he was doing. I don't like to think it would take a fright to stop the behavior but sometimes you do what you gotta do....I did try the coins in the tin can and that worked for the collie for about 4 months so you might try that.....it's a pitch that they hear through everything - we used pennies and dimes and a few nickels and one quarter then taped the hole with duct tape.

Right now with just the chihuahua who learned to bark due to the collie I have a little bicycle horn I got for a dollar - the ones with the "bulb" on the end that you manually squeeze and it goes "eee honk" the second I see that the next move is to bark I have it ready and when I see his mouth open I honk the horn. For some reason he thinks it means "come" but in order to come to me he has to redirect his brain to walk so he doesn't bark, so I get my result albeit indirectly, but it works so I am not complaining.....

I like the blind idea it would work like the horn but you have to be johnny on the spot with the shutting to teach them it's the bark that caused the shutdown.....good luck you have my sympathies.

becky g's picture
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Joined: 2014-04-30

Thanks everyone!  I feel better knowing I'm not the only one with this problem.  I will give these suggestions a try & see if one works for us.  I have noticed that if the boys aren't together and one of them starts barking, the other one comes running & joins in.  Kaiser likes to be in my son's room and my son usually has the door closed.  I've noticed the barking stops a lot faster when the dogs can't get together & get going.  I live in Wisconsin & we have pretty cold winters so we don't have any people going by for several months of the year, so at least there's that.  The only good thing about the barking is that no one is ever going to sneak up on me!  Thanks again for all the great tips, suggestions and sympathy.

Michael's picture
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Joined: 2012-12-12

We've been going through the same thing.  Barking, screaming, growling at neighbors.

He sounds ferrocious, but in fact he's just excited to meet them.

We've been trying the "positive" methods to cure this, trying to teach him to remain calm while watching his neighbors walk by.  See a dog, remain calm, get a treat.

The best advice I can offer is to be sure to catch him being good and reward him.  When my boys are relaxing in the yard, I'll go out there and give them cookies and tell them they're being good.  Now they know what I want from them.

The biggest challenge is that this training takes so long, you start to doubt whether it's working.  We've been working on it for a year, and we're just starting to see results.

Also consider "BAT" training.  It's meant for fearful or aggressive dogs, but the techniques may apply to your situation.

 

Good luck.

becky g's picture
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Joined: 2014-04-30

I think my dogs are also barking out of excitement.  When we're outside, Kaiser never barks at anyone and Felix might bark once when he sees someone coming.  They are such gentlemen outside but in the house they sound like a couple of crazy beasts!  We are working on it and I think they aren't going on for as long as they were before.  It's not the barking that bugs me, it's the duration.  Something I find interesting is when I'm gone for a bit and come in the house, they never bark.  

Another thing I just thought of is that both dogs used to bark at the bus when it stopped to let my son off & Kaiser used to bark at my son when he got off the bus.  Now they just watch.  I suppose it is part of their routine and that's why they got used to it.  Has anyone ever had dogs that grew accustomed to seeing things outside and just tapered off the barking on their own?  Wishful thinking, maybe!

Oz Dobe's picture
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Joined: 2014-03-25

I was at a dog training lecture last night and of course barking came up. One idea that came up out of that was food stuffed kongs, and frozen food stuffed kongs which will keep the dogs so occupied it can take their mind off barking. Now that the northern hemisphere is heading into summer maybe you could try dogsickles. Put some broth in some water and chop up some hot dogs and whatever else your dog likes and put it in a container and freeze it. Of course this is for outside entertainment purposes :) Thats a handy idea because you dont have to be there to dispense the reward.

Its funny. Since I've been playing tug after a couple of barks from Storm, a few times now after a couple of barks and I tell her 'thats enough' she has picked up a chew toy and brought it to me for a game of tug. Maybe there's something in that too. Except you have to be present for the reward which is a bit of a downside.

Storm has gotten better over time. The two crazy barking spaniels next door are not helping though. Storm does well now not to bark at them if shes inside. I can limit her to two or three barks if I'm with her outside. I suspect these crazy dogs are not house trained because they are let out throughout the night and of course they bark as soon as they get out the door. Then the owner has to yell at them to get them back inside. The ironic thing is, the owner wants them for security purposes to alert in case of danger, but last year he had his car stolen from the front of his house and his dogs didn't bark lol. You would only know that there was trouble if the dogs STOPPED barking.

becky g's picture
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Joined: 2014-04-30

The dogsicles sound like something my boys would love so I'll give those a try!  The rarely bark outside, but inside they bark at anyone who walks by the window.  If the person has a dog, they bark for the entire time they walk by and for a while after they can't see them.  I keep trying things, but still haven't found "that thing" that will get their attention and hold it.  If it was easy, I'd keep some cheese on me at all times.  Maybe that would work!  Thanks everyone for your ideas and sharing your experiences.  It might be something I just have to put up with during the warmer months.  I'm lucky this is my worst problem with the boys.  Wish me luck!

talisin's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-25

I seem to always have dogs that will by pass food to bark and growl.....having that issue with Sampson today I had a handful of treats knowing that the St. bernard that just past would be coming back by so I was ready, but sampson didn't care he hesitated which was good but then took off anyway, I then took the treats and myself out to the fence and when he got calm and would sit and look at ME not the dog he got a treat but he didn't want the treat, so this will be frustrating to figure out what he wants that will override the need to give chase at the fence.