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9 month cockapoo started barking(20 Posts)
We have a 9 month male cockapoo who in the last month seems to have found his voice!
He has a lovely temperament, walks well on and off the lead, is generally obedient and has good recall. He is never destructive and very placid, doesn’t mind being picked up etc.
However in the last month he has started barking significantly more than he has ever done. He has barked at a few individuals when they have been entering a relatives home that he is familiar with and he’s been a bit unsure. We had a family gathering and on the whole he was great with the kids but when one started to walk towards him wagging his finger he started barking.
I would be quite sure he wouldn’t bite and it seems to be more when someone’s body language is a bit domineering or he feels cornered. Or if we are out in the dark and he sees something he’s unsure of in the distance.
But I’m so conscious that if he wasn’t such a cute cockapoo his barking would be terrifying. So we would like to nip in the bud! Any tips? He’s yet to be neutered, but not sure that should be viewed as a solution.
All help appreciated. I previously had a Labrador that never had a squeak out of her so this feels quite new and I hate the thought of not being able to trust him around children incase he scares them because he is such a lovely dog 95% of the time!
I can't help but I am just wondering why you want him to stop barking when he is cornered or someone is 'domineering'? He is telling you something is off and for me when my cocker is barking out of an alarm in situations like that I think it's good that he is telling me there is a problem.
It sounds like he is scared and barking as a warning. If that’s the case you shouldn’t be looking to nip the barking in the bud, it’s a warning sign, you need it there. Rather you should look to work on his fear. Identify what makes him fearful and don’t put him in those situations in the first place. E.g. give him a quiet, safe place to be when you have many visitors, explain to everyone, especially children, not to corner him, etc. When he is scared, no one should force the issue, they should give him space, if they have a treat they can toss it in his direction (not give, toss) as they walk away.
Be careful this doesn’t escalate. If you see any sign of escalation get professional help ASAP, no one can advise you on fear aggression over the internet.
Most dogs under the age of nine months have lovely temperaments - they are too young to really be able to communicate what they don't like so appear to like/put up with much.
Your dog has now found the skills to tell you he does not feel comfortable with the situations you described. As pp have said, your best bet is to not put him in them, to watch very carefully if earlier signs of discomfort (before barking) and get him out of a situation when you see it.
At nine months old he may well grow up further and grow in confidence if you don't push him too far now.
I'm another who thinks his barking is not necessarily a bad thing.
He's alerting you to the fact that he's uncomfortable with the situation that he's in - which is a good thing. Children shouldn't be approaching him with their fingers wagging like that, and if you're having a busy family gathering he needs his own space to escape to - either a crate or a room behind a baby gate where he can relax.
To add to pp, he is also of an age where he is starting to get his adult confidence. Up until now he has been a child who will accept most things with good grace. An adult is less likely to do so - as with humans.
Neutering is very, very unlikely to help and may make this worse.
99% of dogs bite if pushed far enough. The trick is to not push them. Your dogs sounds like he's being very clear where his boundaries are, to me.
OP, worth looking at the other thread on here about the 18 month old cockapoo as that poster seems to be a few months down the line from ignoring the dog's warning signals, which have since escalated.
Not exactly the same case, but could still serve as a good illustration of where it can lead.
Heed your dog now and avoid it getting worse.
I totally get what everyone is saying. And we’ve always explained to children how they should behave around him. I guess I should have been clearer, I am more worried about the times he seems to bark as an alert or possibly fear at things I would consider quite everyday. For examples: Someone coming into the house carrying a load of items. Someone coming into the house carrying a child. Barking at a distance in the dark at people coming towards him when we are walking. (He would never do it in the day, it’s purely because he doesn’t know who it is). Is it a case of just trying to normalise these things and reward when he is calm etc?
Ah, I see. It's a case of giving him the space and distance to deal with these things or distracting him with something nice if this is not possible, plus some patience as he may yet grow in confidence as he ages and so start to accept them a bit more.
e.g. someone walking toweards you in the dark. Now you know he doesn't like it, change direction before they get too close. Over time he may settle to it again but in the meantime, give him the sopace and distance so he's not worried.
e.g. someone coming into the house carrying something. Distract him when he starts to bark with something fun or tasty. Perhaps ensure there is good lighting in the hallway so he can see who it is clearly when it happens. Think about ways to keep him at a diatnce from the front door for a few months so he isn't too close when people come in (e.g. baby gates).
At 9 months old he may well be going through a fear period. In which case he will be jumpier than he used to be and than he will be in the end. Just help him see these things are not scary but being patient with him and not forcing him to confront them too close up
In my (limited) experience of owning a cockerpoo they bark more than other breeds I have had (spaniels, labs). Mine is 11 months old and she's a sweetie but she barks a lot. There's no menace in it, she's just a noisy dog. Usually barking at a piece of cheese or at a human, wanting them to play with her.
I am more worried about the times he seems to bark as an alert or possibly fear at things I would consider quite everyday.
For you they are everyday stuff but for them they can be quite frightening. My cocker used to bark at the floating heads (people walking behind our high wall). I would quite calmly say 'it's ok, nothing to worry about'. Sounds daft and no I don't think he understood me but I do think the tone of my voice conveyed that I wasn't worried so he didn't need to be. I also use the same words and tone now if he alarm barks and it's nothing. Mine no longer barks at the floating heads because he now isn't fearful of them.
So I don't stop him barking ever at things he is scared of but I do try and convey a calm tone and he usually stops as then he is ok.
Do you have a crate? Our cockapoo barks when someone comes to the door, more protective than fear. We send her to her crate and invite her off when the person is in and she can see who it is (unless they are a tradesperson or I know they don’t like dogs and then we’ll leave her on her crate). She’ll still bark as they come in but she’s in her crate and settles easily. She’s also a massive wuss and gets spooked easily on walks, by cardboard boxes and plastic bags so will bark at them. She’s also barked at other people if they’ve scared her, we live near a river and someone had come of the river with their fishing gear at dusk and it scared her. If it’s something inanimate she’s barking at, we let her investigate. Tone is important. Not babying but calm and encouraging but not overly excited. For people, it depends on the situation a little bit. For the fisherman that came off the river bank, I had to apologise and explain that he’d spooked her because of his gear and it’s dark. He understood and stopped to let us walk ahead of him. When I’ve had her out and she’s barked at a runner, I’ve sat her down and calmed her by getting her to focus on me and used the opportunity to do some training whilst out. If he’s barking at dusk, you might need to take a torch with you then at least you can see them before him and start to do some preventative work. Don’t get tense about it but you could shout out a good evening to the person and alert your dog to the fact that someone is there. If your cockapoo is anything like mine, he’ll disappear into his own world sniffing everything and so when he starts paying attention realises his surroundings have changed. Dogs will bark if scared and that’s good. I apologise and explain that she’s just being a wuss because she wasn’t paying attention. If someone still wants to approach her, I just make sure they approach slowly and monitor her body language.
Good advice from Marshall
Just needs help getting used to new things and developing confidence.
Of course some people want a good guard dog that will warn them all the time. But we’re guessing that isn’t what you’re aiming for here!
Barking to alert you is quite different from barking from fear. If you can't tell the difference you need a professional to visit, observe the dog and advise you. If he is barking to alert you, teach him a 'stop it' command. It's normal dog behavior but of course should not be allowed to get out of hand because it is a nuisance. If he is barking out of fear you need to be a lot more careful. The general strategies here are: desensitization, distraction, avoidance/removal from the situation. It's impossible to know which one would work best and in what circumstances without seeing the dog, so again I think you need some experienced help here. Have you been taking him to training classes? Has your trainer seen this behavior? What do they advise?
It might also be worth getting his eyes checked out, perhaps he has a vision problem that makes dark or obscured objects appear worrying.
If he is going through a growth spurt, lack of magnesium may cause fear responses. Supplementing with magnesium helps some dogs in these kinds of situations, but not all of them.
Thanks for all your help. I do think it’s just a confidence thing for him. Hoping if we just keep working with him gently and calm we’ll get there. I think I’ve just had the crisis of confidence the last few days more than anything else!!
That’s about the age mine started barking. He’s 14 months now. He currently barks every time the BBC One Christmas sleigh bell music comes on, barks at himself in the window, barks at the Amazon man but not the postman, barks at the Imaginary Fox in the Garden and barks at things he finds disconcerting such as the motorbike that was parked in a new place and the terrifying car seat someone left on the pavement.
Bit bonkers , but we love him.
As a Owner of cocker spaniels my whole life (and i have worked with cockerpoos from time to time), i think its fair to say he prob gets it from the cocker side! they are notorious for being noisy, especially if they are unsure or nervous over something.
I always found the best way to deal with this kind of behavior, where they get fixated on something, weather it be barking, nervous behavior or any other situation where their attention is not on you but on the thing they are reacting to, is to bring the attention back to you. Avoiding the problem just means its still there and if you happen to encounter it again (as we cant control the world all the time) the behavior wont change.
With barking i normally, slowly, and very very gradually, expose them to the situation, no more than a minute or two at a time, but ~the entire time~ i am feeding them treats, talking to them, getting them to do tricks, anything to get their focus on me and not on the thing making them bark. My goal is basically to make me far more interesting than what they are barking at. Over time you can increase the time you expose them to the situation, always keeping them focused on you, until it looses significance in their mind as you are far more interesting.
I also, as a priority, teach any pup "eyes on me", with a verbal command and hand gesture (i use two fingers to point to my eyes to make and keep eye contact with the dogs) asap. so any time they start to kick off, i can instantly bring their focus back to me, and calm them down.
Get other family members involved, its something you can all do together! as a example, before you bring in the shopping, have someone inside and in place with the dog and treats on hand, to start the distraction the moment you come in, just a example
This also helps with bonding a great deal so its win win all round! It takes time and patience, but in the long run its tackling the problem rather than letting it stew
hope this helps!
@bells101 this is great advice. I think generally, along with the barking, we have noticed he just is that little bit less attentive to us as he was a couple of months ago. So we’re going to spend a lot of time working on getting him better at focusing on us when asked! Thanks for such practical advice! Makes the problem seem less daunting!
o also forgot to mention, dogs are very very sensitive to your emotions and body language, if you start to feel tense because you know your about to enter a situation (or are already in one) where you are worried he will react negatively, he ~will~ pick up on that and react more to it. Conversely, if your calm and completely unbothered, he will in time pick up on that too. ik this is easier said than done, but it does make a difference