Tera’s Training Tip Of The Day: Dealing With Excessive Barking.
Nothing is more disruptive or annoying than a bunch of barking dogs. The sound can be ear-piercing, making it difficult to concentrate. There are many ways to cure a barking dog. One way is to use a bark collar. However, if your dog has never been e-collar conditioned I caution the use of such device. At Bay Blue Kennels we deal with a large number of retrievers under the age of six months who have yet to be conditioned to the electronic collar.
At Bay Blue Kennels we approach barking in a calm and sometimes passive manner. We like to stake our puppies out near the line, usually in a grassy area with some shade. I believe it is beneficial for the puppies to observe the action that is going on during the training of the other students. I also believe the puppies must learn when it is their turn to perform and to cool-down or rest after working. If the puppy becomes excited and animated while watching the action occur, that is fine as long as the puppy is in no danger of hurting themselves and remains quiet.
However, at anytime the puppy decides to bark in protest or to get the trainer’s attention the barking is discouraged. Here is my initial process of discouragement, I begin by cupping the puppy’s muzzle in one hand holding the pup’s mouth closed then with the other hand tap my index finger on the puppy’s muzzle repeating the command “Quiet” several times while continuing to tap the muzzle. When I complete the process I let go of the puppy’s muzzle to continue my training of other students. If the puppy decides to bark again I will repeat the process with every bark the puppy elicits. This process takes determination and consistency from the trainer. If you follow the process with every bark the puppy will soon learn barking is not allowed.
Providing a chew toy or bone for the puppy to distract their attention from barking works well too. Some puppy’s will simply be incessant barkers not responding to the above method. As the trainer, it is my job to find what will change behavior with the least amount of force or pressure possible. If plan A does not work move to plan B; a chew toy or bone.
Although, if the Barker is persistent I will simply put the puppy up in the truck box provided the pup has sufficiently cooled down from working. This takes away the puppy’s freedom to watch the other working dogs. For some pups watching the action is over-stimulating. Barking prevents the puppy from resting or cooling down. These persistent personality types need to be watched closely. It is these types of pups who are usually the ones who don’t know when enough is enough and they will ultimately over-heat themselves.
If all other methods have been exhausted I will make sure my pup is thoroughly e-collar conditioned and put a barking collar on the pup starting out at the lowest setting. Don’t be fooled into thinking the bark collar is the end all be all. It is not, because your pups are of superior intelligence they will figure out how to beat the bark collar stimulation. The pup will soon learn when the collar is on, not to bark because a correction soon follows and when the collar is off, the trainer is too busy to reprimand or there is a delay in manual correction allowing for the pup to bark a few times before the trainer can reach them. Pups are so savvy they will sometimes develop a tone or sound to make instead of a full bark. This sound or tone does not trigger the barking collar to correct. Therefore, encouraging the sound or tone and allowing the pup to beat the system or purpose of the bark collar. So to these incredible canine’s I salute your intelligence and creative craftiness to beat the bark collar.
As a trainer of several years and many breeds of working dogs I have learned to out smart the smartest of canine. My next plan of action against a belligerent barker is to go to the electronic training collar. We start by having the pup wear the training collar at all times near the truck or training. I will manually stimulate the barking dog directly with my own timing, rhythm and stimulation level of choice. I will often vary the level of stimulation as needed to deter the determined barker, still using the command “Quiet” simultaneous when the stimulation of the electronic collar is given. This method address’ the barker directly with impeccable corrective timing.
Lastly, if I still can not stop the barking dog I will meet them half-way. Meaning I will give a little to get a little effort toward the dog being quiet. Eventually, with this give and take training approach the dog will relent and the barking subsides. Hopefully, helping to make a calmer and quieter world to train in.
At the beginning of Tera’s tip today is a picture of Rockit King demonstrating what it is to be meet half-way. As long as I let Rockit watch from the truck box with the door open, he was quiet. However, Rockit had to remain still and steady or he would lose his privilege to watch. This was the only way to stop Rockit from barking. All other efforts and methods mentioned above had not changed his behavior. After lots of consistency Rockit finally gave up the barking on the stake-out and in the truck box with the door closed.