Barking at everything

(14 Posts)
Lovemusic33 Tue 26-Jul-16 14:16:02

Lab X collie, 4 years old, always been a bit barky but the more I have tried to correct it the worse it has got, in other areas he has been reasonably easy to train, he's still quite bouncy and hyper. As soon as he hears the slightest sound outside he barks, if people come to the house he barks, if he gets excited ( waiting for dinner, waiting or me to chuck his ball ) he barks. People don't like coming to my house, the postman is petrified to knock the door and my neighbours are probably fed up with it too.

Someone recommended teaching him to bark on demand but that has not worked, he just gets too excited and won't stop.

I have ordered a correction collar ( not a electric shock collar before anyone jumps on me ), one that vibrates, I feel like I'm running out of options.

Has anyone ever cured this problem and how?

chough Tue 26-Jul-16 14:33:42

Not sure if it's something you can stop, Lovemusic, but I'm not an experienced dog-owner, as my current dog is my first.
He's a rescue collie-cross and barks if he hears a noise outside or if he sees someone walking past his house without his permission.
We try to avoid triggers where possible, eg if we're going out, we restrict his access to certain rooms and close curtains in other rooms, so that he can be peaceful as he can't see out to the main street, just our own garden.

rumblingDMexploitingbstds Tue 26-Jul-16 14:48:21

My cocker is the same. Not aggressive, not anxious, just a chatterbox, whatever she thinks comes out of her mouth and she gets excited about every single thing, even going to make a cup of tea she dashes into the kitchen barking.

I've put roll on opaque film on the lower windows that looks like misted glass like you get in bathrooms, the light comes in but you can't see out, and that's stopped her yelling a running commentary on every single thing happening out there. I've kept treats in my pocket and worked on calling her to me when she barks and getting her to do a sit or spin or something on request to earn the treat and break the stuck on bark cycle. If she doesn't stop on request then she goes in her crate for a bit until she's out of bark mode, or I have made her lay beside me. She's in her crate right now as she was dashing around the house barking because someone is hammering something in the distance.

Doesn't stop it, just controls it when it gets ott.

I also do the whole if she barks/flaps and gets over excited for something we're about to do then I stop, turn away and ignore her for a moment, making myself as boring as possible. I wait until she stops and calms down before I continue. This had no effect at all for weeks, but she is starting to stop and sit as soon as she sees me doing it, and is slowly realising the more flappy she gets the longer she's going to wait.

I would love to be able to train her to be calm all the time but there's a point I think this her personality and however well trained she is, she still is who she is!

chough Tue 26-Jul-16 14:57:43

rumbling, that's made me laugh about the running commentary, but it's true: she's just communicating with you.

sparechange Tue 26-Jul-16 15:32:12

Of course you can train them out of it, and for the sake of your neighbours, you really must!

Personally, I would go for positive reinforcement rather than a correction collar, but you probably need to set aside a few days to do it, and enlist the help of some friends to act as stooge visitors.

The toy and food thing is really easy. As soon as he barks for food or a toy, it goes back in a cupboard, he gets sent to his bed and you go straight to another room and look busy. When he stops barking, you get it out again, if he barks, the same thing happens.
You have to repeat this until you can take it out of the cupboard and he doesn't bark. Then reward and fuss. Ideally, you want to try this a couple of times a day on consecutive days until it stops.
Because at the moment, he thinks he has trained you to feed him or throw his ball on his command...

Stopping barking at visitors is harder, but can be done...
Step one would be finding a distraction toy or treat that he really likes.

I would split it into two parts. If he already barks on command, you now need him to stop barking on command. Let's say that command is 'zip it' (avoid 'shhh' if you say it a lot around the house to DCs etc, as it will confuse him to hear that when he isn't barking'.

Get him to bark, then give the command Zip It. Then show the toy/treat and as SOON as there is any pause in the barking, reward and praise. Repeat 5 times.

Step 2 is desensitising to the trigger of noise outside or someone coming to the door.
You need to get a friend to be your stooge visitor/trigger while you are inside with him.
So you get prepared with treats and the toy, and then text your friend to approach the house.
When he starts barking, you distract distract distract with treats and toy. Your friend must be primed to back off as soon as the dog barks.
The repeat again. Friend makes a small noise, you distract with the treat, lots of praise when he doesn't bark.
The friend needs to get closer and closer, up to the point of knocking on the door.
You now need to decide if you still want a guard dog 2 barks at the door, or nothing.
If you want nothing, then you need to carry on with the above. If you want a guard dog who will give 2 barks and then silence, this is when you use the zip it command.
You'll probably have to work your way down from lots of barking to a few barks, but the process is the same - zip it, and as soon as he is quiet, he gets the treat and praise.

Whatever the other triggers are, post, cars starting, you just do the same. Get someone to recreate it, while you distract and reward.

Yes, it is going to take several weeks or mor to sort it, but you've let the dog train you into getting rewards for his current barking so it would be deeply unfair to now use a correction collar. It will really confuse him, because up until now, he has been getting the exact reaction he expected from you when he barks. You need to train him out of those habits while training the new ones in. You don't need to make him wonder why doing his normal behaviour is hurting him.

By training him to zip it, you'll be able to control it very well g in the future, especially in strange surroundings like other peoples homes or hotels.

Feel free to PM me if you need more info - I've had to rush this a bit so will probably spot lots of typos and omissions when I read it back

sparechange Tue 26-Jul-16 15:34:06

One more thing... Wild dog packs don't bark. It is a totally learned behaviour in domestic dogs, not something that comes naturally to them
They aren't 'talking' to you, they are making a strange noise because they think you want them to, and because when they do, they get some sort of positive reward for it.
You just probably haven't noticed how you are positively rewarding them yet..!

chough Tue 26-Jul-16 15:37:45

Well, I did say I was a novice dog owner!
This all sounds like good advice.

Sootyboysmum Tue 26-Jul-16 16:38:56

i too have a collie and she barks mainly while on the lead at other dogs and at first when we got her it was a a bit of a nightmare but then we discovered the pet corrector spray which you can get from pets at home or ebay. Since getting the spray she is a totally different now as she rarely barks but if she does i just either shout at her or use the spray and that stops her in her tracks.

georgedawes Tue 26-Jul-16 16:57:18

I would be really wary about using a corrector spray, my dog would be terrified by it and it would make things worse. Collies have very sensitive hearing and if it does work it may just be through fear rather than addressing the underlying problem. If the dog understands bark, now teach quiet and practice as much as possible. A clicker really helps to capture the quiet moment.

sparechange Tue 26-Jul-16 17:10:59

sad
Corrector spray isn't dealing with the problem though. You are just terrifying your dog into silence and masking the problem by creating a new one

Lovemusic33 Wed 27-Jul-16 07:42:15

I have tried corrector sprays, I have tried distractions, sadly his favourite thing is people and a bone or a toy is less desirable than barking at who ever is at the door sad, the spray had no effect what so ever, I have tried a water spray bottle but being a lab X he loves water and thinks it's a reward. I have tried not reacting at all when he barks, I have tried removing him from the room ( into the garden) which makes things worse. The other morning he woke us up at 4am barking, possibly a cat in the garden or a fox, since then he has been ten times worse.

georgedawes Wed 27-Jul-16 08:11:51

But have you tried teaching quiet with a clicker? It's self rewarding for dogs to bark and as he's been doing it so long it'll probably take a while to break, but if you teach the command it's a good start.

Lovemusic33 Wed 27-Jul-16 09:50:20

He barks at the clicker and gets far too excited sad

sparechange Wed 27-Jul-16 10:01:40

What is his absolute favourite food? Cheese, slices of sausage?

The idea with the desensitising training I outlined is not to wait until they are barking and then try and distract them. It is start the distraction BEFORE the trigger. You have to be prepared with the treats before you know the person is going to walk up the path/open the gate/whatever his initial trigger is
You are showing him there is something inside that is more interesting that being on guard to noises at the door. Then you are rewarding the silence when there is someone at the door.

Where abouts are you based? Is it worth getting a couple of sessions with a behaviourist or trainer to work on this with you? It probably needs a couple of 2 hour sessions to get your started and then maybe a top up when you've been working on it for a while to make sure you are on the right track.

You have to be 100% consistent though, or the dog is going to know you don't really mean it.
It might mean taking a few days off work/with no plans so you can work on this properly

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