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dog barking at postman and others

(15 Posts)
JennyOnTheBlocks Tue 08-Jul-14 15:00:19

Bit of back story, not had dog for long, he's almost 2yrs, rescue

Very loving, food driven, a bit bouncy but training is going well. Will sit and down to command, has learnt to retrieve now and almost got the hang of dropping.

We love him.

He's going to be a smashing dog.

But he barks like a thing possessed when people come to the door.

We have big window at front of house, low enough for him to get right in to, so from outside he must look like some rabid hell hound when he does this.

I can comfort him when he's making this racket, so not aggressive or anxious beyond approach, so any tips on how I can get him to calm down?

We've got him to stop jumping up when we come into a room or back from out without him.

He hardly ever makes a noise at other times btw

Contraryish Tue 08-Jul-14 15:04:02

We have a dog who does similar. We were advised to distract him when someone arrives. So get him to come and go to his bed (for example), then reward him for the good behaviour. And do this every time he barks, so he learns that as a response to people approaching. We've only been doing it a couple of weeks but there is already a noticeable improvement.

Lilcamper Tue 08-Jul-14 15:44:30

Block his view from the window using great proof paper or opaque fablon.

JennyOnTheBlocks Tue 08-Jul-14 15:52:28

Really, lilcamper?

I'd rather be able to change his behaviour than board up our windows

JennyOnTheBlocks Tue 08-Jul-14 15:53:44

Contrary, that sounds a good idea.

He'll do anything for a biscuit, I'll give that a try

moosemama Tue 08-Jul-14 16:14:40

Have a watch of this Kikopup video.

Lilcamper has a point. You may need to obscure his view when you start the training, until you've reached a point where you have the control to interrupt and redirect, then reward.

There are a couple of problems with giving him a treat every time someone approaches the door. Firstly, if he's already overexcited at the prospect of visitors it's only going to make their approach even more exciting and could make him even more hyped up and secondly, you need to be really sure you are not rewarding the excitable barking, instead of pairing their approach with something positive.

If you obscure his view, you have already removed one of the triggers and therefore not only increase your chances of successfully retraining the behaviour, but will also most likely reduce how often he does it and since the behaviour is self-reinforcing, you need to try and avoid him doing it as much as possible whilst retraining for the best possible outcome. It doesn't have to be a permanent feature on your window, just a temporary part of the training process.

Contraryish Tue 08-Jul-14 16:18:29

I wouldn't suggest a food treat every time either. For ours, a bit of a praise and fuss is often enough.

moosemama Tue 08-Jul-14 16:32:45

Sorry, I missed the bit where you said you redirect him to his bed first. Yes, that is a good idea, as long as the reward comes once he's at his bed and being quiet.

It doesn't have to be his bed, just pick somewhere you'd like him to go and lie down quietly when visitors arrive and work on that. Some people pick a certain rug or even a different room.

JennyOnTheBlocks Tue 08-Jul-14 16:59:24

He's got a day bed, which he is using more and more often now. We bought it as it was like playing musical chairs with him at first, as soon as you got up he would jump in your place, cute but not great when there's a human left without a seat grin

Forgive my dimness, but I still don't understand how blocking out the window will help, if he doesn't see the postman he doesn't bark/react so how can I correct behaviour if it doesn't happen?

moosemama Tue 08-Jul-14 17:53:01

Does he only react if he sees them or is he picking up on other cues, such as footsteps up to the door, gate opening, doorbell etc?

The idea, as per Kikopup's video, would be to set up situations where people approach the door and you reward him for appropriate behaviour. To make this easy and get lots of positive repetitions and rewards in you would block his view, then set up 'stooge' visitors that you can pre-empt, so you can redirect and reward him, not allowing him to start getting wound up first. Hopefully then he will start to realise what's expected of him when people come to the door.

When you're at the point where he is offering the correct behaviour ie, going to his bed to wait for his treat, you can try removing whatever you've used to block his view and carry on the same training from there. He needs to understand what is expected of him first and if seeing visitors is the biggest trigger, I would eliminate it to begin with, work on the lesser cues, footsteps, letter box etc and only let him see out again once he's clear about what's expected of him.

JennyOnTheBlocks Tue 08-Jul-14 18:13:23

We don't have a squeaky gate, and very short front path, but if he's fast asleep he hardly raises an ear.

thinking about it more now, it's strangers he's vocal with, when regular visitors come he's very quiet and we're working on the not jumping up thing with them too

I think I need to closely monitor exactly what he does, whether his trigger is sight or sound, before I right off any method don't I?

moosemama Tue 08-Jul-14 18:34:34

Videoing him so may help you untangle what's going on, as you can then watch it back and see exactly what the triggers are? The alternative is breaking down a typical 'visitor experience' and seeing at what point he reacts. Can you rope in a couple of non-regular visitors to help?

If he is purely reacting on sight, following the method Kikopup used should work to desensitise him. As she says though, you need to set him up for success and try to prevent him experiencing the triggers as much as you possibly can while you're going through the training process.

JennyOnTheBlocks Tue 08-Jul-14 18:41:40

Video is a great idea, will lie in wait camera poised - always wanted to be a wildlife photographer

We don't have many friends or family about, so would be difficult to set up training scenario, need my thinking cap on.

He definitely doesn't bark or react at passers by, even those with dogs, it's most certainly coming to the house.

JennyOnTheBlocks Tue 15-Jul-14 13:26:43

Just looking back on this, a week of distraction to hi bed is making a positive difference already, thanks for the advice

Now to do the same with bikes. . .

Toooldtobearsed Tue 15-Jul-14 15:35:07

Agree with blocking his view, it acts as a distraction. Mine is not a barker, but was an over enthusiastic greeter. Tried all sorts until I found that by standing in from of him, blocking his view, made him concentrate on me, not the visitor. I did use treats, then moved on to effusive praise.

We don't have near neighbours, but 'next door' has a dog that they deliberately allow to bark when people call,they see at as a deterrent. Their dog is the biggest, soppiest dog you could wish to meet and the postman just tells him to shut up, stupid mutt grin

Personally, I just do not like barky dogs - stick with the training, you will get there eventually.

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