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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our 4.5 month old puppy Osha has been making progress in most areas but we're still having a difficult time with the barking. Since I've never had a dog who barks a fraction as much as she does I'm a little unsure of how to handle it, especially since she's still a puppy.

Outside of her crate and around us, the bossy barking is diminishing somewhat. But if we leave her in our living room (we have a door we can close) she goes completely mad with barking, scratching and generally flipping out.(Btw, we do this now and then throughout the day when we have to leave the room for a few minutes. When we are gone she has her bed, bones/toys, etc) She has managed to scratch fairly deep indentations into the door frame as well as peel off the paint and almost completely dismember the door handle.

I've dealt with separation anxiety before but it was with an adult dog and while there was some destruction and a bit of whining, it was not so intense. I managed to fix the problem by going in and out of the front door again and again, while ignoring her and slowly increasing the time I was gone.

That is not working for us since the split second the door closes, she freaks out so there is no time in which to return while she is calm, so she can see that we will always come back.

Are there any suggestions for us? As of today, it got so severe that I ended up putting her in her crate and I am currently waiting until she calms down to let her out. I don't want her to associate her crate with punishment but I also don't want her to hurt herself or inadvertently encourage the behaviour.

Any advice?
 

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I know this must be very difficult. Has she done this since you got her? If so, for how long?

What I would be thinking if I where you:

Do I or we encourage this behavior?? Meaning - do we give her what she wants when she barks?

Is she the boss in the house or am I the "Big Dog"?

Am I/We willing to let her have temper tantrums until this behavior is corrected?


There a many suggestion we can provide that will work. The above questions should be answered truthfully first. I apologize if I what I wrote appears cruel or inconsiderate. However, I have asked myself these questions before when confronted by this type of behavior, and it made all the difference in the world as to the approach and success achieved. :)
 

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Hi Clover - The barking I don't know about, but the living room door thing you might try to slow down a little -try your door routine without closing the door - step out, step in - step out, wait a beat, step in - step out, wait some more, step in. After a while, half-close the door. Eventually, push the door so that it looks closed, but don't make the click sound of actually closing it. Finally, go back to the closed door.

Savannah's crate is for sleeping, but also for time outs. Whenever possible, if she is too wound up, I will take her to her crate BEFORE she is completely out of control, have her go in her crate and sit. She gets a treat. Sometimes I miss the timing and she gets banished to her crate. In that case, when she comes out, she gets a couple of easy commands right away so she can earn a treat. It's not perfect, but the time out aspect has helped significantly!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
In all honesty, I'm really not sure if anything we've done has encouraged it which is why I was writing :) I don;t think it's inconsiderate at all to ask that question since I've definitely asked it of myself. She definitely does *not* get what she wants by barking.

She has been very vocal since we got her. She has a bark for every situation and reason and we've managed to whittle down most of the barking to having to go outside to use the facilities ( :) ) and playing with her friends at the park.

Ignoring the barking (both in the crate and outside of it) was working somewhat but what ended up being a much better solution was spritzing her with some water when she barked at us. It had a much bigger impact and now we don't really have an issue with that any longer. Ignoring while she is in the crate has also worked quite well and her time in the crate has become lovely and silent!

It's specifically when we leave the room and she left there alone for more than 1 second. We originally ignored her but that did not work for some reason in this particular situation. We tried for some time to walk in the room, spritz her with some water and then walk out. This had some effect but only for a short time.

So now, we're a bit lost since, like i said, we really do not want to be encouraging the behaviour.

As for who is the big dog in the house, I can say that after the first month I believe we have been successful in that regard. She is a naturally dominant/bossy dog and so we're always having to keep on our toes in order to make sure that she knows that her bossiness will not be tolerated. This is the only time she ever has temper tantrums.

As for general listening, etc., we always go through doors before her, she has learned she must wait, lying down, before she eats (and no longer requires a command to do this) and everything must be earned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We are working on time outs today. (She's in for her second one right now).

If she barks when I leave the room and starts acting out then I have been taking her upstairs to her crate immediately. As soon as she stops barking and calms down I let her out, do some training/treats with her and give her some affection ans then we try again.

I really don't know if this is the best way to handle it or not. Plus, I'm not sure if this particular situation is more bossiness-related or separation anxiety-induced.
 

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Hi Clover,

I asked our trainer about timeouts, and she said that dogs shouldn't be put into crates for punishment, the crate should be a place they want to go willingly and that they should feel safe in there crate. She suggested timeouts in a separate room such as a bathroom, and try to keep it brief, and letting the dog out after he/she has calmed down. I actually did the same thing with Axel, but now I switched to the bathroom for a short timeout. Anyway's, that's what I heard, I'm learning as I go.
 

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OK. Sounds like a training plan is in order. I'm not sure if it is just the livingroom she doesn't like or it is being alone. Knowing this would help. Maybe there is something in the room she doesn't like? Let's assume that she will act this way when left alone in any room. I would find where or what makes her most comfortable and use it to my advantage. Let's say she really likes her crate. Well; now it's in the living room all the time with the door open and on occasion has treats hidden inside. Maybe you can hide treats around the room so she can find them. Play hide and seek in there with her. After which, you put her in the next room and ask her to stay and then you go and spend time in the living room without her. You will also need to spend time in the livingroom with her and observe how she behaves. What you need to focus on is making her feel comfortable in that room. I know Copper likes any type of cushion to lay down on. I would exercise him till he is somewhat tiered and then move his cushion into the living room, tell him to stay, and come back with a soup bone! If he gets up from the cushion he looses the bone. Get the picture? This may take a week or two but if used consistently will work. I wouldn't shut the door right away until she is comfortable in there with her bone. You will need to work into it. Let us know how it goes. :)
 

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All you need is patience. This too will pass. When Dexter was a pup he barked a lot. We tried using a spray bottle with water and he liked it. We bought a ultrasonic bark stopper (yeah, right) and when it went off he barked at it. Finally had to resort to a bark collar at times but mostly it was "No barking" on a consistent basis. Now he pretty much only barks outside and when he does bark inside he will stop when told.
 

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I think since you have an anxiety problem, you probably want to focus on modifying the emotion, not the behavior. So I wouldn't focus on the barking, I'd focus on steps to make the experience of separation more bearable for the puppy. The result will be less barking AND less fear. If you were to just punish or withhold reinforcement for barking, you'd just have an anxious puppy who knew better than to bark, if that makes any sense? So an approach like jld suggested--breaking it down into even smaller steps--makes sense to me. Also, it may help to teach your dog to sit-stay (if not already done) and practice using it to establish distance between you but still in visual contact. Then you can increase the distance gradually, leaving the room without closing the door, etc, all the while with a dog in a sit-stay. Stay at the level your dog can tolerate without becoming upset before increasing the intensity. Just my two cents as someone trying to manage fear behavior in my own V.

I'm cutting and pasting a useful article by Suzanne Hetts and Daniel Estep posted on the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior website:

Modifying Emotional Behavior

Many behavior problems in dogs and cats, including wars between cats we discussed in another article in this issue, involve emotional arousal. It is well known that emotions drive behaviors. If you are afraid of insects for example (Suzanne is a real ‘bug-a-phobe’!), you would have a difficult time holding still and being quiet if someone asked you to hold a spider in your hand. This would be virtually impossible for you if your fear is intense enough.

The same is true for our pets. If your dog is uncomfortable around children, asking him to ‘sit’ while a child pets him isn’t going to work well. If one cat is afraid of another, holding one cat while the other approaches so the ‘fraidy cat’ can learn there’s nothing to be afraid of may make things worse.

Fears are not rational. As a zoologist, Suzanne clearly knows a little house spider won’t hurt her, but this doesn’t help her feel better about holding a spider in her hand. This rational component may not even be present with our pets. The dog may be convinced that the child is indeed going to hurt him, and the cat may believe her survival depends on avoiding the other cat.

Emotions aren’t affected by reinforcement and punishment in the same way voluntary behaviors are. Fears don’t lessen if someone attempts to punish them nor do they become worse if we attempt to reward them. Dan can’t make Suzanne less afraid of spiders by yelling at her, nor can he make her more afraid by hugging her when she sees a spider. In fact, just the opposite may happen.

Aversive events tend to increase emotional arousal. So Dan yelling at Suzanne if she acts afraid when a spider crawls up her leg may actually increase her fear. Now not only does she have her spider-fear to deal with, but the unpleasantness of being yelled at by her husband as well.

On the other hand, if Dan hugs Suzanne and talks soothingly to her, she may calm down and have less of a reaction to the spider. This may seem opposite to what you’ve probably read in popular literature, which says you should never reassure an animal when he is afraid, as this will only reward the fear.

Can you see from Suzanne’s spider example why this isn’t true? People generally have a difficult time with these concepts until they try them. For example, during the initial stages of a consultation, we often have dogs bark and growl at us. Our reaction is to use the appropriate body postures to make ourselves appear non-threatening (see our Canine Body Posture video), and toss treats to the dog. If this were rewarding threatening behavior, causing it to escalate, after 20 years of doing so, we would likely have been severely injured by these dogs by now!!

Instead, just the opposite happens. The dogs calm down, often switch to friendly displays, and want more treats. This is an example of classical counter conditioning at work. This type of conditioning can be a powerful way to change behaviors associated with emotional arousal.
 

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sarahaf,

I just got my wife an audio cd (from local library) that she can listen to when travelling to work called "For the Love of a Dog-"understanding Emotion in Your Best Friend). Wanted to get some insights into the mind of the dog and critical tools for hopefully a long and healthy relationship with our puppy. (Axel)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for all the great suggestions! I'm on my phone right now but I will definitely have a look at all the links later.

We have been working with her practicing the down/stay in the living room as I move further out in to the hall.

The barking has diminished somewhat which is great! I started using blueberries to train her since she loves them so much and so we saw a lot of improvement after doing only 1 hour of training.

Thanks everyone :))
 

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I have a 9 week old V and I can only say that it all begins at the start. When I first brought her home (seven days ago) she would bark when I left her sight or when in her crate. I immediately, and without fail, gave her the NO BARK command, and when she stopped, I would say "Good girl, good quiet." This is something that I did every single time regardless. Well, in less than two whole days, she stopped! Now, instead of bark she might whine a little, but it's very rare, and even when she whines, I say NO BARK and she stops. Now, seven days later, there is absolutely no issue. It is something that you have to nip in the bud immediately. If you do not, it is encouraged even if you do not think that you're doing anything to encourage it.

Try the no bark command accompanied by a treat when she quiets, so that she/he learns to distinguish between sound and silence. My little one, Bleu, was never trained on treats. I didn't want to start with food motivation since she was learning without it. Good luck!
 
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