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Won't stop barking at people!

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Nic_, Jun 5, 2018.


  1. Nic_

    Nic_ PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all, this is my first post so bear with me. I have a two year old Zuchon who lives with my mum as I work full time elsewhere; they both live in a second floor flat. Hattie's always been a bit yappy but lately she just won't stop barking at people either on walks or even visiting friends etc, it's getting to the point where it's embarrassing having people feel uncomfortable so the walks are often cut short. Hattie does have a dog walker who picks her up twice a week and then plays (off the lead) with at least 6 other dogs for a couple of hours; we've never had any complaints. When the dog walker initially assessed Hattie she was extremely yappy. I just thought I'd seek help from here first before seeking professional help as it's pretty expensive. Any help or suggestions is appreciated :)
     
  2. Moo Dog

    Moo Dog PetForums Junior

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    I've recently read a book called "how dog's learn." I will warn you, this book espouses quadrant training. I am also unfamiliar with your breed, it's not one I've heard of at our training club.

    Anyway, this book actually uses excessive barking as a specific example in one of the later chapters. They suggest first trying to figure out what response the dog is looking for. From there the reader has the option of either meeting the need, and train accordingly. There is also the option of rewarding the dog to simply be quiet for initially short periods of time, then extend the time to increase the behavior. My personal opinion is discovering what all the yapping is about, as it may be used as a reinforcer that doesnt involve food.

    On the negative or fear side of the spectrum, there is a popular clinical animal behaviorist that gives and extensive outline of all the things that can make a dog fearful or simply weird them out. Coats that make humans around them look different from how they usually look, men wearing hats or sunglasses, deep voices of men (there is a recent study showing dogs prefer women's softer and higher pitch voices to men's deep and/or loud voices. The practitioner's name in Patricia McConnell.

    It may be simple as he's curious about what's going on or may want a better vantage point and some cuddles. It can also be as simple as he/she gets nervous seeing people in removable attire (sunglasses and hats). This too can be quickly assuaged with some desensitization work. Ie. A man getting to know the dog without a hat on, and eventually increasing the stimulus rewarded by treats. :)
     
  3. Nic_

    Nic_ PetForums Newbie

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    Hmmm I’ll have a nose at that, she does seem to bark more at men than women usually women in sportswear and dark clothing. Her breed is mixed; half Bichon Frise and half Shih Tzu.
    Thanks for that information you’ve gave me something to think about and I’ll definitely try and introduce her to strangers safely!
     
  4. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    I agree it would be helpful to find out the cause of this, it could be anxiety, or excitement so to cover it in generic language, for the purpose of this reply let's just say arousal.

    She will have an invisible radius of space around her where she feels calm. Find out what that is and keep her far enough away from the stimulus that she is relaxed. Reward this calm behaviour. A park bench on the edge of a quiet park is a good place. Gradually, over weeks and months, not days, work on reducing the distance. But - be aware that if your dog has had a stressful episode the stress hormone can stay in the body for up to 48 hours so a distance she was comfortable with the day before might be too close that day. So the safe distance can change, watch her body language.

    Trainers describe behaviour like this with reference to the three Ds. Distance, as above but also be aware of Duration (your dog might be tolerant for 10 seconds, but not 15) and Distraction - how distracting the stimulus is; a small person walking quietly might not trigger any reaction at a given distance but a loud group of teenagers might.

    Alongside that you could train a 'watch me'. As your dog looks at you, mark and reward the behaviour. Ask for longer periods of watching. Then if a person approaches, after you have worked on the distance issue, you can get your dog to focus on you and not the other person. BUT - some dogs find this scary as they cannot see the thing they are aroused about so you need to judge your dog.
     
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