Barking for multiple reasons

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by MontesMum, Apr 3, 2020.

  1. MontesMum

    MontesMum Registered Users

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    Hi, we have a 9 month old fox red lab called Monte, who is a live wire to say the least, but generally he’s fabulous. He has always been an incredibly anxious dog, so our training focuses heavily on going slowly and building his confidence with things. We have a new thing which has cropped up- barking. The problem I’m having is dealing with each barking episode correctly because he’s barking at everything, and I believe, for different reasons. For example, due to this virus there are suddenly lots of people walking passed our house- he’s been barking at that. He barks at birds or anything he sees out the window. He barks and lunges if we see anyone or anything outside (we have stopped trying to lead walk as it’s just too much for him, we are working on lead walking in the garden and driveway) he barks if a loud car goes by, or if he’s resting and a noise inside the house happens (phone, cough, doorbell- doorbell is the very worst frantic reaction) he even leaps up and barks wildly if my stomach grumbles. It’s getting really bad. So with this ‘reactive barking’ we’ve been trying to train the ‘leave it’ paired with tasty treat. He definitely knows leave it and will look at us but as soon as he’s got his treat he’s off barking again. I have been drip feeding the leave it and setting up situations like doorbell ringing and horses trotting and training the leave it. It works fabulously when in training mode.

    Then there is the other barking which I believe is attention seeking. He’s a very needy dog, constantly wanting attention. We do a lot with him, lots of training, play and off lead everyday, so I don’t believe he’s lacking...maybe we do too much?? but when I do anything else like wash up, he starts barking and also whining. This type, I ignore completely. When he’s quiet I usually give him something else to do or say ‘nice quiet boy’. But then a second later we are off again on the barking cycle. He’s also barks and whines if we leave the room- even if he can see us, unless he’s really tired or in his safe place which is his crate. My question is- am I doing the right things for these different barks? It feels as if I’m not because it all seems to be getting worse. Is it all attention seeking? Is he just generally anxious unless he’s engaged in something or so tired he doesn’t care?
    I am 8 months pregnant (it was not planned this way) and I’m so concerned that we are going to have serious issues all round when baby arrives. I’ve been playing baby crying sounds and walking around with a doll since November and he’s actually fine with those things now. It’s just anything that happens that is new or not part of training. Thanks
     
  2. Emma W.

    Emma W. Registered Users

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    Hi @MontesMum. We had the same barking issues arise at 9 months in our pup. Mostly alert barking and reactive barking. Not so much barking at us but our pup will bark if we leave the room and he can't see us for long periods of time (and is prevented from getting closer due to a baby gate, etc.). I've read a lot about alert barking (barking at things outside the house) and it seems that the best strategy is management. You can buy window film that blocks that dogs view but still allows light into the house. The other option is calling them over to you every single time they go to the window and bark. Eventually, they see something outside and run back to you for the cookie. I've been doing this for a few months now and had success.

    For the reactive barking and/or barking at noises in the house, I think it could be a few things. Our pup (who is now 16 months) used to reactive bark at any sort of noise but I soon realized he was a) spending too much time in a high stress environment like doggie daycare or b) Engaging in too many stressful activities like having to walk in crowded areas on a tight leash, and being constantly over threshold. I've been reading a lot from Sarah Stremming and she talks about decompression walks. Finding somewhere quiet where ideally the dog can be off leash. A hiking trail, empty field etc. There are so many noises constantly going on that these dogs have to listen to all day and I think it can take a toll on them if we don't let them decompress somewhere. I've started driving to off leash places at non-busy times of the day and I've noticed a huge decrease in reactive and or stress barking to noises in the house. I think constant training and lead walking on tight sidewalks in the midst of constant children, people, etc. can actually create more reactive responses in these sensitive dogs. I understand the importance of good leash walking but I think if you were to spend that time you currently are using to practice in the driveway (which may be stressful for everyone involved) and instead use it to scope out a relaxing place (with little to no people or dogs) that might solve half the problem. Here is a great blog on it: https://www.dogmindedboston.com/blog/2019/5/27/the-life-changing-power-of-decompression-walks

    Other than that, I hope someone else can come along with any other opinions. I think barking is so challenging to tackle as different things work for different dogs and sometimes it's such trial and error until something works! Best of luck to you!
     
  3. MontesMum

    MontesMum Registered Users

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    Thank you so so much Emma, this really does chime with how Monte is. I think this virus has created more stress for him because of a change of routine, and I’m probably over training thinking I’m helping but actually he needs to relax.
    It’s interesting you say about driving to a quiet field for off lead walk- this is what I started doing a while back, but had to stop because he developed a limp which showed up after these walks because he charged about too much, but do realise this is helpful too him and he is much more chilled in the house if he’s had such a walk. thanks for the blog, I will have a read. Thanks again for taking the time to reply.
     
  4. Emma W.

    Emma W. Registered Users

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    We had some limping episodes too at a young age. Our vet chalked it up to growing pains and we've never seen it since! Sometimes when they realize all the freedom, they go a bit nuts! But if you do it often enough, hopefully it just becomes the norm and it won't be so exciting every single time. 9 months is such an energetic time too, maybe you'll start capturing some moments of calmness in the next few months or so ;)
     
  5. MontesMum

    MontesMum Registered Users

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    I really hope so! It’s a daily challenge I must say. I find it so hard to give him enough attention but without giving him too much. I feel like I do so much with him but very aware that I need to limit it a bit because when baby arrives I won’t have as much time. Took him for 20 mins off lead yesterday and that was really good- with no limps! Thanks for giving me hope that this really tricky age will pass. I know it will but sometimes it’s so hard to see past the current phase that you’re in isn’t it! X
     

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