Barking Help Needed

(14 Posts)
Smitten1981 Tue 03-Jun-14 13:51:55

Hi all.

I have a Bichon/Shih Tzu cross who will be 2 in September. She is a lovely dog but I'm at my wit's end with her barking.
I have a 7 month old baby who has never woken up from a nap naturally because the dog will bark at any noise/car/person outside all day.
We've had two trainers in for help, the first one said to give her a treat when she doesn't bark and she'll get it. This just made her bark to get a treat and made things worse.
The second trainer said to stand in front of where the thing that was making her bark was coming from and say 'no'. Obviously this doesn't work, they also said to get a water gun and spray her if she barks. This didn't work either.

I really don't know what to do to get her to stop, but I'm getting quite resentful towards her because she's waking my baby up all day and he can't rest.

Anyone got a magical cure to help stop the barking. I'm really struggling.

moosemama Tue 03-Jun-14 17:36:58

No magic cures, but personally, I would try teaching her to bark and be quiet on cue.

I like this video for a simple explanation of how to do it.

Once she's learned that you can start extending it by telling her to be quiet when you don't want her to bark.

She needs to understand that the reward for the cue 'quiet' comes for not making a noise, hence teaching her the two things as a paired behaviour will help her understand that she can't just bark to get a treat.

Lilcamper Tue 03-Jun-14 18:01:56

It depends on the triggers too, if it is the sight of things outside you can always opaque your windows.

SpicyPear Tue 03-Jun-14 18:29:17

As well as teaching the quiet command and minimising the stimuli, it's always good to consider her routine and exercise.

My barky terrier mix is much worse on days when he has not had adequate exercise and stimulation, for example on occasions I have been a bit poorly. Could you fit in some short training sessions when baby is asleep to mentally tire her? Is she getting adeqaute walks, with opportunities to sniff around etc?

Smitten1981 Tue 03-Jun-14 19:10:51

She has two walks a day and we take her to obedience classes on a Thursday and Agility classes on a Saturday (where she's perfectly behaved and doesn't make a peep, of course).

I've tried teaching her to bark on command and then to be quiet but she ended up barking and then sitting there looking at me waiting for a treat. She didn't seem to get the quiet bit. hmm

Smitten1981 Tue 03-Jun-14 19:11:49

I feel like I've exhausted all avenues. Not sure about one of those citronella collars, they seem a bit cruel.

Lilcamper Tue 03-Jun-14 19:16:11

They are cruel, and they don't work. Lots of dogs learn to bark like mad to empty the canister then just carry on like normal.

moosemama Tue 03-Jun-14 21:14:00

Are you using a clicker? If not, have a go, she will it find it much easier to identify the desired behaviour if you mark it with a click.

Lots of very short sessions is the key. It may take a while for the penny to drop, but stick with it and she will get it in the end.

Spray collars just suppress the behaviour and don't deal with the underlying cause, whilst causing the dog a great deal of anxiety and distress. Some dogs, particularly small breeds and terriers just learn to bark incessantly to empty the collar quickly - others shut down and become depressed and fearful. sad

moosemama Tue 03-Jun-14 21:14:29

Oops, sorry. Lilcamper's last post wasn't showing on my screen when I posted for some reason. confused

SpicyPear Tue 03-Jun-14 22:39:11

Ah well then I feel your pain as she still does it despite you doing lots with her.

It's so self reinforcing as a behaviour it can be so hard to crack. Would there be any modifications you can make to stop some of it. For example, I have half shutters in my living room mostly shut so he can't watch through the windows and therefore doesn't bark at people walking by. Now thinking about installing a sound proof room to put him in when the police helicopter is buzzing around smile

I had similar issues with the quiet command. It's getting better but not perfect.

moosemama Tue 03-Jun-14 23:04:45

Been thinking about your problem a little this evening. Obviously you want to get the barking sorted for the long term and sticking with the speak/quiet training and doing what you can to reduce stimuli is the way forward with that, but in the meantime, if it's naps that are an issue, could you give her a frozen stuffed kong to work her way through during your dd's naptimes or would she still respond to her usual stimuli? Guess it depends how food motivated she is.

I give my two a kong stuffed with their usual kibble, mixed with sardines in tomato sauce and topped off with some good quality wet food. I freeze a batch each weekend and use one for each school run. My pup's a bit of a pro at emptying them now, but if I need him to be settled a quiet for an hour two frozen kongs will usually do it.

If neccessary you can feed all her meals through kongs and other treat dispensing toys, such a kong wobblers, treat balls and Nina Ottosson mazes etc, to keep her busy while your dd sleeps.Just thought it might be worth a go if you haven't already tried it.The other thing I thought was would a sound desensitisation CD help at all, if it's mainly noise she's reacting to? You start off playing the sound at a very low level and reward her for being quiet, then very, very gradually increase the volume. It's best if you can build up to setting a stereo of some sort up outside the door or window eventually to get as close as possible to the real stimuli. You can download individual types of sounds like [[https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/calm-pet-desensitizing-sounds/id294630532 these to play via an iPod or MP3 player or buy CDs like this one.

My final thought was that if she's hyper-vigilant all the time, I wonder if perhaps something like a DAP or Pet Remedy diffuser and/or Thunder Shirt might help her relax and reduce her reactivity.

I'm prepared for a flaming here, but I've found the puffy collar to be of some use. Max (Weim) has learned that when the collar goes on, barking is not allowed. We rarely use it these days, and didn't use the citronella option. Yes, we/ you/ one still needs to address the underlying cause of barking, but for us, when Max was being left alone for a couple of hours, we had to find a way of not disturbing the neighbours.

Smitten1981 Wed 04-Jun-14 17:23:38

Thanks Moose, some good ideas there. We do give her a kong when we go out, but I haven't tried it at nap times. Will give it a go and see if it helps any.

It's weird because she's very responsive to noises such as cars driving by/ people walking past talking/doorbell/postman oh and car doors closing are her favourites but she shows no interest in other dogs barking.

I think it might be overexcitement with the things that would mean a visitor is coming and she'll get lots of attention.

She's proving to be a really tough but to crack.

Smitten1981 Wed 04-Jun-14 17:24:02

Ha ha, tough nut that should be wink

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