Barking at Anything

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dobieluvr's picture
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Hi guys,

Kratos has just recently surprised me with a interesting but not so good behavioral problem that affects the way my boy is looked at especially since he is a dobe...Kratos just started barking at any person that walks, I don't really know where this habit developed since he has never done this before...any suggestions?

Thanks.

Lady Kate's picture
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Yikes...Wish I could answer this ( see PM) Sofia only barks at things she is suspicious about.

She HATES hats! Poor gardeners, doff their pith helmets and other caps when walking behind our house. There is one cleaning lady who she goes nuts over and howls and growls and who knows why.. but I have found with her, there's usually a reason. Bicycles are sworn enemies as well as diesel trucks. ( we've solved the Sparklett's Man problem by putting the empty bottles in the FRONT)

Maybe Kratos is beginning to become more protective as he gets older. I will bet someone on the forum will be of more help to you on how to curb this.

AlphaAdmin's picture
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Kratos is just maturing and part of being a mature Doberman is wanting to bark, so she needs the adults in her pack to teach her what is and isn't appropriate to bark at. So start correcting inappropriate barks now, before it actually does become a behavioral problem. Right now it's just puppiness.

The best way to correct inappropriate barking is to correct the attitude that creates is - before the barks come out. But start by giving a verbal correction for the barks, and if that doesn't stop it, which it probably wont at first, claim the area - get between her and the walking-people.

The attitude you don't want, once she calms down, is fixation (staring). If she stops barking but fixates, correct that too. She needs to relax. Sniffing is good. Staring is bad. Dogs use their eyes on prey and enemies. They use their noses to greet friends.

rgreen4's picture
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dobieluvr - is he barking at people walking past the house or when you are walking him. They are two different causes.

If he is barking at people going past, he is protecting his property from suspicious people who approach and then leave without coming in.


If he is barking at people when you walk him, he is being protective of you. In that case one thing that may help is to put your hand vertically down in front of his nose to block his vision a bit and saying "OK". That is a command that I use to settle Red down.

While I don't walk either Red or Princess (4 acres in the country and no pedestrians), they do bark at times at things outside. The dogs across the street are usually good for a several woofs when they bark. The man aross the street is good for several when his is mowing his front with the tractor, and of course the squirrils are always good for barks.

Up until lately it has just been Red. But in the last two weeks, Princess has started to join in, and in fact in the last week she has been the first to sound off, and her bark is getting that nice deep resonance of a mature Doberman. I am now working on her with the "Ok" after a few barks.

If you are in an urban setting, however, you have to get him more settled than mine need to be. As Alpha pointed out be on the alert for a sight fixation and by all means distract him. That is not good for him to do.

dobieluvr's picture
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It happens more when people are near the house, he even howls at them.  But it also happens when we're walking and certain people approach...he does do the stare thing and really fixates on them I'll make sure to cover his eyes and get between him and whoever he is barking at.  Should I correct him as well when he does it in the backyard?

AlphaAdmin's picture
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Just poke him in the side and tell him no.

Do you walk him on a pinch collar? If so, you can correct an inappropriate attitude with that while you're walking. Just be sure to only use physical correction (pinch collar) before he fixates, not after. A physical correction while a dog is fixating can cause him to associate the correction with the thing upon which he is fixating - which will reinforce the anxiety he's having. So if you find him already fixating, nudge him around so he's no longer seeing the offending thing, then correct him if he tries to re-focuse.

Be sure he's walking at your heal too, not out in front of you. Letting a Doberman walk you can get serious... People get dragged.

And yes, I'd correct inappropriate barking where ever it occurs, even in the back yard. He needs to learn not to bark at everything, like many Doberman puppies. I'm still struggling with Logan barking at the neighbors. Jewel doesn't help though, the little goofball.

he is also a very young male and going through natural instincts and fear periods! It is how you handle it from here on out that may make a difference.  If my dogs are ever afraid of anything I like to try and proof it in a sense. I recently watched a show on animal planet where Victoria was doing the same thing, made me feel better about my approach to it.

Romeo my youngest puppy had went to a friend of mines house for a daycare situation when he was not quite 3mo old. This person has very similar styles of training as I do so I trusted her. Not only was she a good trainer but she also taught puppy classes at a local dog club. She happened to take my puppy who had only been out in the public but a few times on a walk with no treats and no toys (I didn't find this out until after the fact and when I did I was furious)  My poor boy was scared to death of a skater that continually skated past him on the trail. It started out with hackles up and growling lightly out of being scared but after several times with being with this person who didn't handle it in the right way he ended up lunging at the end of the leash and barking. It has taken me a long time to correct what happened to him and present it in a positive manner to him, this should have been done from the start. If out with me this never would have happened.

With that being said, this is how I problem solve this type of behavior. Anytime I have my dogs out I always have their favorite toy and food with them. In Romeos case where the skater was skating by, after the initial response of him being curious and slightly scared of it. I would have had him either go up to the object if the person was willing and treat him for positive steps. If the person was not willing I would have him sit in a area and tell him what a good dog he was while the person was skating by letting him look but also giving him a job to do and concentrate on. This is how I had to break him of the fear of this. I took him to skate board parks and we sat on the sideline on a bench we just sat and watched while he was being praised and fed for doing so nicely. It was only after 5 min that we were able to go up to the skate boarders and have them give him cookies and skate by and stop and give cookies that he was comfortable. I still take him back periodically and do the same thing, he is being raised with Schutzhund and he has to be overly confident in everything he does so we work on it all the time.  When we go to busy places I know that this is a slight concern for him so I set things up and do the same thing. Soon he associates the fear with cookies and good things for himself and doesn't react in the same way.

So when out on a walk and you see people approaching you don't want to all of a sudden drag him up on  a short leash, you need to expect the unexpectable for awhile your boy is very young. As you see people in the distance take him to the side and start working on sitting and getting his attention while doing so, talking to him the entire time and treating for positive responses. you want the dog to be able to see what is going on so it is not a shock or a surprise. If you are sitting by him and telling him what a good boy he is petting him he will be more confident, if you get a growl or a bark then tell him what  a silly puppy he is and either go up to the object and treat for good steps but never reassure him by coddling him telling him it is okay. That type of behavior is not okay. Remember the dog takes on the attitude that you display so if you are worried about things and how he may react he will play into it even more as if to protect you and also feed off of the unsure vibes coming from you.

dobieluvr's picture
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I guess I shall have to go out and buy some more cookies, I didn't think I was doing anything wrong with the pinch collar upon the object he is fixating on...I shall have to correct myself I guess befor correcting him. Thank god we newbies have you guys! 

Alpha:

I don't let Kratos walk out in front of me, that I corrected very soon because I'm on the smaller side and I can't have him dragging me; it can turn out very bad!  In the backyard he cannot hear anyone close by because he begins to howl and bark like a maniac!

Another question: Where did you guys sign up your pups for puppy training basics...any recommendations?

AlphaAdmin's picture
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All good ideas. Just remember the basics: Never reward anxiety, don't expect bad behavior or it will cause it.

It's really not difficult to keep a dog quiet while they're on a pinch collar, as long as you're keeping it slack and only 'snapping' it when needed, along with verbal correction.

In the back yard - like you say dobiluvr - sometimes they're so focused on barking they won't hear you. In that case you need to enforce your verbal correction. What I do to an unresponsive puppy is walk to him.

If he keeps barking I block the area, for example when Logan used to bark at the neighbor dog I would stand next to the fence and not let him come near it. When he tried I would give verbal correction along with a poke - usually a tap with my foot. Touch is an important communication with dogs. Not hitting - just touching.

Also, I would approach Logan directly, the way dominant dogs approach subordinate ones, and allow him to submit. Submission is as simple as a relaxed look on the face, but often include the dog sitting or flopping down.

If he runs from you, that's not good. What I do then is outsmart him spatially. I walk after him until I see my opportunity, trap him between me and whatever, and bear down on him silently. He usually submits then right away.

So now that Logan knows I'll come after him if he doesn't quiet down, he listens. Actually, just opening the door, or walking through the kitchen makes him quiet. Of course this doesn't mean he won't start a barking contest while I'm on the other side of the house.

Q Tip's picture
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Watching The Dog Whisperer last night I love the way that Cesar does that back flip thing with his leg/foot to correct a dog's behavior. (to take the dog out of the moment)  I need to try that with Sophie today (my non dobie) as she also fixates on others coming towards her and passing by. Good luck Dobiluver :)

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We have 3, YES THREE, Shelties next door. One of them is so nervous that he barks at everything. When that happens the other two will start barking, too. This use to not bother Sage. However, for the past couple of months their barking drives him nuts in the form of... he starts barking, too, and running along side the fence in our backyard. Sage has a very loud bark. Sage can be inside the house taking nap but immediately jump up & start pacing whenever those Shelties start the barking, again. Also, when we let him out the back door he will head straight over to where he likes to run & bark along the fence line at the three stooges. He will not start barking first, and once he realizes they are not in their backyard he comes back onto the backporch, or whatever.

rgreen4's picture
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The three stooges! I will have to remember that one.

Lady Kate's picture
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I was watching an info-mercial yesterday during the dog trials held in San Diego where they were advertising a sonic wave type barker-stopper. never heard of it, or seen it work except through the magic of television and if you call right now.. not ONE but TWO barker-stoppers can be yours for the low price of $10.00.

It looks to be a battery operated hand held devise resembling a remote control.. and the waves go out quite a ways in order to stop neighborhood dogs from making your own wonderfully behaved doberguy from joining in the fray.. thoughts?

( wonder if they'd add a bamboo steamer or a ginsu knife to the order???)

dobieluvr's picture
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Oh god you gotta love info-mercials, they seem to have everything you need for the "low price of 10 dollars!"...you have to love the way they say everything too as if they are doing you a favor if you  buy their product...

AlphaAdmin's picture
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10$ is cheap. Are you sure is wasn't 12 easy payments of $9.99? For 10$ I'd give one a try just to see if it worked. Although, if this product is like many Sharper Image type products, they've taken a perfectly valid concept, replaced every part possible with plastic, hinged the final design on 1/100 of a penny component costs, outsourced it by the container load to China, and found a way to make it require batteries - if it didn't already - resulting in a product with a mean time to failure rate of 29 days.

dobieluvr's picture
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Maybe we should try it out I guess when you think about it 10 dollars is how much we pay for a good doggy toy, so if the dogs don't like it I'm sure they'll turn it into a great chew toy!  Unfortunately, it's probably not a good idea to give them something filled with a bunch of mechanical, nasty "stuff"....

I have one I can send you! I don't like using it at my house because it punishes the innocent dogs.

SoldierRN's picture
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Okay people, thanks for your thoughts...

psssssssst... J/K!

Lady Kate's picture
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Okay Nurse Rachet.. There goes YOUR Ginsu knife!! Thanks for the grins..

LOVE the sign.. could have used it many times in the past..

We're off to the states tomorrow for a couple of days

Smooches to the pooches