constant demand for attention (barking)

6 replies [Last post]
Lani's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-08-05

Pet Profiles

Hi there, I know there are other topics on this page with similar stuff, but my dog has a backstory that changes things a little bit, so I thought it best to post a new topic.

 

Since we got Jack we have been renovating our garden and the outside of our house. The fence we had around our garden was too small and Jack at four months old ould just jump over. So we had to have him outide on a long line....It took us a good three months to get the new fence sorted out during which time poor Jack suffered the constant frustration of being on the line. He´d often get hooked on stuff and he´d bark his head off out of frustration. Of course over time we learned what this bark sounded like and we´d always go out and free him from whatever he was hooked on. We took take for walks twice a day, morning and night during this time so he got enough exercise. When he wasnt on the line outside he was inside in his den. (We dedicated the whole hallway to Jack and he´s very happy in there, leaving him in the whole house just never worked because as a young dog (he´s now 10 months) he naturally destroyed a lot of our stuff.) So yes, we have had a rough time with our boy over the last few months. I know it has not been ideal for him and I feel pretty bad about it but as any of you who have had to renovate an old house would know, sometimes plans just dont work out the way you want and there are delays etc.

 

So now we are having to deal with the consequences of not having the garden ready before we got our dog. Jack is now finally free to run in the garden, and is generally happy with life. He doesnt bark at everything, just other dogs mainly and once they are gone he settles down again. The problem is when we are around. We are currently re-doing the one side of our house and my husband and his friend are working on a scaffold and are in and out of the garage most of the day. They are not in the garden, but on the street-side of the fence. When Jack can see them, he stands on his side of the fence and barks CONSTANTLY ( mostly with rhythm interludes with little frustrated yelps). He is demanding attention. I know full and well that he has learned over the last months that barking like this brings one of us out to free him from the line when he´s caught on something) Now that he´s off the line he has translated this behaviour into barking for attention when he can see us on the other side of the fence.

We do not know how to deal with it. I´ve read up on it a lot and most people say ignore him till he´s quiet and then reward him for being quiet. How are you supposed to do that when you are on the other side of the fence?  And when he can go on ALL DAY like that? A spray bottle has worked pretty well, but now he´s learned that if he goes out of reach of the spray bottle he can stand there and bark without getting wet. When we are in the garden with him he never does this, even when he´s not getting attention from us.

We really need to get him out of this because we run a business from home and its from this particular corner of the garden where Jack can see customers outside smoking or whatever. Of course because the customers are not just walking past, they get barked at constantly until they go inside.

Parking a car in front of the fence helps. He gives up a little bit quicker, but he still does it a lot.

Any suggestions? How can I reward him for being quiet so he knows hes being rewarded for being quiet? I also dont want to reward him through the fence because he will learn that he gets rewards from his "bark corner".....even if he´s being quiet.  I want him to learn to ignore people standing on the other side of the fence and that rewards come only when we are in the garden with him, or from the back door.

KevinK's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-07-15

Pet Profiles

I'm going to give a disclaimer, since i'm fairly new to dobermans (not new to dogs) and by no means an expert.  But, this is my experience so far with my pup, and how I handle things, and what has worked for us so far.

I know my pup Dakota, and Dobermans in general (most puppies for that matter) don't do too well being left alone for long periods of time.  They like to always be at your side, and Dakota at 14 weeks needs almost constant attention.  I feel comfortable leaving her for anywhere from 1-5 minutes absolute max, inside only, depending on her mood.  If she's laying down to sleep, I can leave her a little longer... If she's in a playful, rambunxious mood, I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving her for 30 seconds by herself.  They need lots of mental stimulation, lots of play time with people, and just want to be by your side.

I let her wander around the yard when we're not training, but I always keep an eye on her.  When we got her a little over 2 weeks ago, she barked at every dog that passed, not aggresively at all.. she just wanted to go play.  After working with her when people or animals pass, she has gotten much better.  The best time to correct this type of behavior is BEFORE she starts barking and running around... once she starts that first step, it's very hard without going up to her and actually spinning her away to re-direct her attentino back to me.  If I catch her before, I can tell her leave it, and re-direct her to something else.  Dogs are great at giving away what they're about to do...  When your pups ears perk up, and it is staring intently, with an erect posture, and still tail, that's the time to give the leave it command.  (or whatever command you use to let them know not to do what they're either doing or about to do) She has gotten much better, still needs work, but when I'm close, and I tell her leave it, she will look to me to see what to do next instead of just making a mad dash.  (sometimes.  still needs work, but getting there!)  Eventually, instead of the pup making decisions (which is your responsibility, not the pups.  they just don't know it yet) it will look to you first to see what you say. 

If you can't give your pup attention, it's probably better off going back to the den until you can give attention.  You don't want your dog learning bad habits that will be harder to correct down the road.  When it's outside by itself, especially if you're not watching what it's doing, then you can't correct behaviors that you want to stop.  After something is done, it's too late to correct.  You need to correct it either before, or during the behavior.

My guess with the barking through the fence is that your dog simply wants to be closer, they like to be by your side.  You or your hubby being right on the other side of the fence is like dangling a treat in front of their nose that they can't get.  It's not the dog being bad, it's just wondering why it can't get to you...eventually, it WILL get to you, once it realizes he's no longer too small to jump that big high fence that you didn't think he would ever be able to climb.

One thing i've done that I would have to recommend as well is to train your dog to sit when it wants attention, not bark, or jump on someone's leg.  They learn so quickly, it should be easy.  When dakota wants attention, she sits by your feet.  She is learning that barking and jumping is unnaceptable, and does not get rewarded... when she sits however, the fun begins!  This comes in especially handy when other people are around, and is a real treat for everyone.  Everyone gets what they want, she gets her attention, guests don't have a muddy dog jumping on them, and all is good.  Plus, everyone will think it's cute that your dog sits by them, and they will most likely instinctively reach down to pet him when he sits at their feet.

Lani's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-08-05

Pet Profiles

Thanks for the reply :)


Jack can sit, lie down, walk by foot, not jumping up etc. already. Really apart from this one issue we have with im, he´s prettymuch awesome!

He knows through the little bit of work I´ve managed to to with him through the fence that when he sits, he gets his treat/attention, and that when he barks he will be ignored or squirted in the face. I think more likely its a matter of patience and perseverence than anything else. As I explained, this is not something he just started doing.... its something he´s learned over the last few months due to having been on a long line outside.

He´s never alone for more than an hour or so, then we go out and spend some time with him in between when we can. At least outside he can run around. When we arent standing on the other side of the fence he´s happy as a lamb and gets on with things without a worry. When Jack was a pup we never left him alone but now he´s ten months old he needs to get used to it a little bit. He´s not used to being outside so much, so that will take some time as well.

Odd thing...today we got our friend to bring his labrador over for the day....The lab is a bit older and not particulary interested in playing quite as much as Jack wants, Jack is barking at the lab in exactly the same way....

KevinK's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-07-15

Pet Profiles

It's not an issue with the dog, it's an issue with the way you are handling the situation.  Dobermans are different than labs, labs are typically much more independant, wheras dobermans like to always be by you.  They don't like being left alone, even for short times.  Being outside by itself is better than being locked up all day, but again, if you leave him alone I would expect some bad habits to develop.  They call the doberman the velcro dog, and in such a short time, I can see why.  One of the things I would be very worried about is the dog developing bad habits, since no one is there to correct them.  (like barking through the fence, which is a fitting example)   10 months is still a puppy, and your dog still needs lots of attention, and always will.

He is barking because he wants to be with you and your husband... leaving him there by himself will not correct the problem.  It will only make it worse, because like I said eventually the fence will not be a sufficient barrier if he wants to get to you bad enough.  I would recommend correcting this behavior before the dog is able to find a way out... after that, he may be getting out for other things besides the 2 of you.  I would also recommend not leaving him unatended, the general consensus for a doberman puppy is that if you can't keep an eye on him, he goes in the den until you can.  He could be back there eating rocks, bugs, sticks, eating his poop, doing all sorts of stuff that you would never know about.

Lani's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-08-05

Pet Profiles

So you are saying that I should lock him up and only ever let him out when I can be with him the whole time....This is of course totally possible since we work and live in the same building. Ultimately this would be going back to his (and our) old routine, we´re all used to it. We have the ability to let him out every couple of hours....Problem their of course is that he can hear that we are downstairs working and he will then bark and yowl at the door when he´s inside. So yah, same issue, different setting. It is not possible for us to have him downstairs with us as we work in a clinic (clean\sterile) environment....The customers get iffy about it (even if he´s only behind the desk in the waiting room), and a lot of them are scared of him.

I would like to eventually get it right with him that he is able to be outside without us constantly having to be by his side....I do feel that it would be healthier for him to have space to run all day. How do achieve that if he then continues with this attention seeking behaviour because he´s only ever learned to be outside when we are there? Will I have to do this for years to come? Or will he calm with age and learn that its okay to be calm when we are not around...or on the other side of the fence?

As you can tell I am new to dobermans as well....I really do love my dog and we have already got an awesome relationship and we have achieved so much...Just really worried about screwing him up on this point.

thanks again for your input :)

rgreen4's picture
Offline
Joined: 2008-10-26

There is a reason I normall always have two. Red was rather like Jack in that he always wanted to be with me, although that was not always responsible. He was never really ever a problem barker. Princess changed his life, although at times I think he would rather send her back where I found her so he could go back to sleep on his pad.

When he is barking, he wants attention or to play. When you go out and spray him you are feeding his desire. Attention. Read the One Minute Manager - it may help. When a dog or a kid wants attention and is not getting it, they act up and guess what - they get attention. "Bad" attention is better than no attention.

When he quiets down, that is the time to go out and pet him and play with him for a few minutes. If he starts barking when you go out, turn around and go back in. Dobie puppies generally settle down at two years of age, but if you ignore him when he is barking and give him attention when he is not, that will get the message through.

As Ceasar Milan says, giving attention when the dog misbehaves just reinforces the bad behavior.

Lani's picture
Offline
Joined: 2010-08-05

Pet Profiles

thanks rgeen4 for you reply:)  I have been doing exaclty this. It seems logical and deifinitely the best way.....It´s all about having the patience to work through it LOL!! We will get there. I have calmed myself about this situation and have stopped getting so stressed out about it. He has improved a little bit....I just need to see it through! Feeling positive!