View Full Version : Need support!

12th April 2007, 04:39 PM
We created a monster. We take full responsibility, and therefore are doing what we can to undo it. I cant help but think of Dr. Frankenstein's demise as he attempted the same task. I hope we survive!

Cedar has always been pushy about her access to the outside. Remember her bell training? That was an attempt to curtain the barking. The bell was just as annoying. The whole situation is intensified by the fact that our main living space is also a sunroom, which has lovely big windows that let Cedar supervise the back garden. We have tons of trees, so we also have tons of squirrels. We also have rabbits who live under our back deck. Cedar goes NUTS when she spies a chase partner in the garden.

The full responsibility part comes when I admit that my husband and myself have given in to the crazy barking and opened the door, letting her into the garden. The squirrels and rabbits give her a good chase, and even taunt her some. There's one fat rabbit that stops running when it gest tired. Cedar stands and waits for it to go again. So I'm not afraid she'll hurt the rabbits. The full-grown rabbits, that is.

With spring, we now have cute, adorable baby rabbits that come out to nibble in the fresh grass blades. I first noticed the new rabbits when Willow, who prefers to stay inside, was showing a great interest in Cedar's outdoor activity. Cedar was inspecting something in the grass. When I got close, the "something" started to squeak and hop away!! Cedar was curious, but she wasn't biting or pawing it at--yet.

I quickly called her away (her recall worked!!!) and now we are very careful about letting her out. I'd HATE for her to kill one of those little babies! Of course, the situation is worse now that the little ones are older. Three of them were sitting right outside the garden door (which is glass) and nibbling on the grass. Cedar sees them, just 4 feet or so away, and she goes nuts.

Hubby and I have agreed that we have to stop this behavior, even without the baby rabbits, Cedar's barking to go out is out of control. We refuse to let her out, even to go potty, while she's barking. We make her sit, and stay, (even with the door open!) and then release her to go out. Also, we lower the barrier on the door, so Cedar can't see through it. She can still see through the regular windows, but at least she can't watch the little rabbits eat supper. However, it's a long process, as she's so used to getting what she wants by barking that she's barking MORE the less we let her out. It's going to take a while for her to get the hint. In the mean time, we are dealing with a neurotic barking dog!!

Joe, my husband, says he can see a difference in her behavior already. Her barking turns more into a grumbly, talky growl faster rather than the high pitched "come here now" barking. Still, it's ANNOYING. I wish I had Willow's ability to ignore her barking....

Anyway, just wanted to vent, I suppose, and talk to those who don't think dog issues are dumb!!

12th April 2007, 05:18 PM
Ugh, I know your struggles. I couldn't imagine how Wesley would react if he had a visual access to rabbits outside. We have enough trouble with him going balistic every time he sees someone walking by (which is literally every 5 minutes because we live on a golf course :mad: .

You are doing right by working on the sit/stay with her, but I know it doesn't make the process any less painful :rolleyes: It is that spaniel in them that turns our precious lap dogs into obnoxious bark boxes. I know that low grumbly noise you are refering too, it sounds like they are moaning. Wesley sounds like it is physically hurting him to keep his mouth closed when I tell him "enough" :confused:

12th April 2007, 05:36 PM

I am not sure how you feel about this, but in Darby & Dudley's training classes the instructor always said to get a water bottle a spray them gently when barking.

I admiit I have done it, and it works.
You usually only have to spray them lightly a few times and the next time you just have to show them the water bottle.

I know some may feel this is cruel, but I also have a barker who goes absolutely insane when he see's a cat, squirrel in the backyard.

Hope this helps, as I definetley understand although we most likely don't have anywhere near the squirrels and rabbits that you do.
You have a huge backyard too.

Barbara Nixon
12th April 2007, 06:52 PM
I use a small plastic pot filled with coins. It curtails all kinds of undesirable behaviour from Teddy. He very raely needs it dropped as a reminder, as, usually, the warning of 'I'll get clanky box' is sufficient.

The actual box, being dropped, was enough yesterday, to get him to leave a packet of butter which he stole from the worktop.

12th April 2007, 08:44 PM
Oh Teddy you are a rascal.

As to the barking I have a barker myself and once he starts he forgets to stop and I havent got a solution apart from trying to distract him

12th April 2007, 09:20 PM
Just as a starter -- Can you work to teach 'quiet'? I also use the phrase 'enough!' and they all know that word (Jaspar is the only one I took time to teach proper 'quiet' but they all know 'enough' means 'change to doing something else NOW'). A cat out on the roof really sets them all off though but they only bark asd long as they can see the cat.

On the bigger issue: you really have two choices -- to remove the stimulus outside by always blocking the view (not really a choice in terms of closing curtains, but see below)!) or working to remove the connection between the demand barking and the desired result -- getting outside. You've started doing the latter and totally ignoring is indeed the best way to remove that connection. To emphasise that you are not going to do anything, I'd simply leave the room, making it even less rewarding for Cedar. It will take a lot of work but sounds like she is already realising things have changed. Hold out! I think you will gradually see more and more results.

If you get her to where she is mainly just giving alerts to go outside then getting her to respond to 'quiet', 'enough', or to another task will be simplified as the stimulus won't be as overpowering for her. Then the best thing to do with her IMHO is to put her in a down stay in a bed in the room, or on a pad or whatever --as soon as the barking starts -- in other words, barking means she has to go in the quiet corner where she cannot see anything (another way to remove the stimulus). Hence the training issue may be to work on that reliable, directed down stay as that will end the issue immediately -- she won't be able to look out, she has to be calm (dogs actually relax simply by going into a relaxed (not sphinx) downstay as the position itself is one they associate with calm). Once she has been quiet for several minutes you could further sever the connection to chasing rabbits by taking her for a walk on the lead out the FRONT door, not the back.

Stick with it as you CAN extinguish unwanted behaviour by changing the rules and rewards.

I have been working for three or four weeks on being very strict on not letting the dogs out of the car at the park til each is quiet and stops barking (there's a cacophony initially and Jaspar always stops right away so he gets out first. Then Leo calms down and he comes out). Lily is massively overstimulated by many things and a problem barker when excited. She would literally sit in the car and bark bark bark bark. This could go on for 15-20 minutes initially -- exasperating. I knew it simply was getting unbearable and had to change, not be ignored or tolerated. At first if I got out and then even looked at her she would bark even more. So I would ignore her, walk the other dogs back and forth, and only move towards her once she calmed and stopped barking for at least 30 seconds. At first moving toward her would start her frantically barking again -- so I'd walk away, turn my back, ignore her. Eventually she would tire and I could get her out but usually would once or twice I'd have to put her back in as she'd start barking again as I lifted her out. :(

In the past two weeks she would go thru maybe three barking sessions with me walking towards then way, towards then away, but these were getting shorter... and shorter...(she is a smart little dickens as well BTW).

Today she barked furiously when I got out, but in under two minutes both she and Leo were silent. I couldn't believe it. She stayed quiet when I walked back, opened the door, and got her and Leo out and on their leads. BINGO!

It has taken time but she clearly now connects getting to the fun faster by NOT barking, rather than demanding.

There's plenty more to do with her on other issues, but this alone was a huge breakthrough with a very unwanted behaviour in a very exciteable small dog! And the best thing is she stops because SHE wants to stop and she is motivated -- not fearful. I have in the past lost my temper and tried shouting, scolding, blah blah blah, and not a single thing would make her waver for long -- she'd just stop briefly and come right back barking. I truly believe the best solution is always finding what will motivate the dog to do something else that IS wanted. :)

12th April 2007, 09:42 PM
Meant to include that once they all come out of the car I throw a handful of cat kibble on the ground as this distracts them ALL from starting to bark again and is a reward for them all to look forward to and further cements a 'well done' for the dogs. :)

As you point out all that you are now going though really underlines how carefully we all have to consider how we respond to certain actions by our dogs! It is so darn easy to associate what is actually unwanted with a reward, because it is fun to let them do what they want to do or gets them to stop doing what we don't want (eg the barking). I have made this mistake so many times in so many ways and really it took Tara and Lisa as pro trainers watching me interact with the dogs to point out what I was doing and how I would totally unintentionally reward the dogs for things I DON'T want. It really does require thinking though a process and flipping it around to see the dog's eye view of what is happening ('gee if I bark my head off while she is on that phone thing, I ALWAYS get a nice chew treat to shut me up or she starts to play with me to keep me quiet!' ... and then we wonder why the dog always barks when we start talking on the phone. :lol:)

Learning how to be better at unpicking how problems occur gradually makes it easier to piece together a way of enouraging a wanted behaviour and has certainly been teaching me to respect my dogs in new ways. I feel lucky to always have a couple of pro trainers to call to talk through dog behaviour issues and who share a lot of their training challenges with me in chitchat; just hearing those case studies helps me better understand what I am doing wrong and how to tackle the problems I encounter.

In some ways dogs remind me a lot of computers -- they are both very logical and can only do what you are able to successfully find a way to tell them to do. If there's a problem in a bit of code or a program you have to work through each step to figure out why it isn't being understood the way you expect it should be. Very same with dogs! And the same sense of achievement when you unpick the problem and start to get results. :lol:

12th April 2007, 09:46 PM
Does your automatic rabbit chaser know the cue "down"? My dog trainer told me that most dogs are incapable of barking in that position. I betthe baby bunnies are so cute!

12th April 2007, 09:54 PM
Karlin, you certainly have more patience than I do!! I dont think I could have held off of letting Lilly out of the vehicle at the park! Cedar gets excited and barks when we get to the kennel club training center (Her favorite place in all the word, seconded closely by grandma's). She learn really quickly, though, that she had to SIT and be quiet to get out of the truck. Luckily, we've had her since puppyhood and held strongly on that rule. This doesnt keep her from barking the whole mile up to the training center though---it starts with a whine and gradually increases as she knows we get closer. <Sigh>

We are making progress with the barking at the critters in the yard. I can see it--and hear it--she definitely quiets down faster than she used to. She is still 'on the look out', though. Instead of sleeping like Willow, for instance, Cedar is flopped over the side of the couch watching the yard like a guard. At least she's quiet!!

We are making progress with the ignoring technique, though my husband's "ignore" often comes with an exasperated, "cedar be quiet!" Which of course, only makes the process that much more difficult. He knows it and I know it, and Cedar certainly knows it. [My frustration, obviously, gets vented here!]

We did try the down-stay technique, but we struggle with that simply because we dont have a good spot to downstay her where she can't see out unless we literally take her to another part of the house. We love having our huge windows and our open floorplan, but it does complicate the dog training!! We havent made the commitment yet to alter our evening plans to sit with Cedar in the basement (no windows!!) when she misbehaves, and I dont want to punish her by isolating her. We'll see if the progress stalls with the ignoring technique--then we'll try re-evaluating. (During the summer, we'll spend more time in the basement b/c it is cooler; so hopefully we'll use that period to our advantage!)

As far as the shake can goes, I've heard of this technique before. It is a quick solution, especially with a single dog, but it can have negative side effects, especially when there's another dog in the room. Willow is just starting to get over her fear of loud noises. Using a shakecan on Cedar could set Willow back in her development.

The spray bottle, another common punishment technique, is also often a quicker process, if it works. If you find a dog who likes to be wet, then suddenly you have a wet dog, who barks to get wet AND go outside!! I've not tried the technique as I do prefer the more positive approach, but also because, being innately lazy, ignoring the behavior requires less of me than having to get out a spray bottle.....

As I typed this, Cedar had a little "session" when she found something in the yard. A couple of yaps as she dashed back and forth from the sofa to the door. She did start to bark whole-heartedly when Willow got involved. Willow doesn't bark, though; she scratches at the door. When I didnt let her out (which Willow gets out quickly, as she rarely asks to go out unless she NEEDS out), Willow abandoned the activity. Cedar quickly settled down, too. Whole episode lasted a minute and a half, WHOHOOO!