Vocal puppy

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by Chewies_mum, Jun 8, 2018.

  1. Chewies_mum

    Chewies_mum Registered Users

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    Hi all. We (myself and Chewie the black lab) are new here and I have a question.

    Does anyone else have a very vocal puppy? Chewie is 12 weeks old and has been barking for attention and when there's food around. Ignoring and redirecting him is (slowly) working but he still has the odd barking episode. A recent meal of pasta Bolognese was just too tempting for him and he lost all self control. Weirdly, he mostly barks at me, rather than my husband. Could this be because he is more strongly bonded with me? He is definitely a mummy's boy.

    He also has a wide array of different vocalizations:
    - I'm really tired
    - he yawns out loud
    - I'm chewing things
    - I'm licking my bits (lovely...)
    - I'm warm and snuggly and happy

    The vocalizations are quite sweet. The barking not so much. Do people find that their pups get less vocal over time? We live in a townhouse so it would be great if our neighbours didn't hate us!
     
  2. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    My youngest is quite vocal. She is a frustration barker, although she doesn't bark over and over, it's a single bark which might be repeated after thirty seconds or so. That has diminished greatly but not on its own, it's been through training. When she was a real baby, the first thing she did on waking was bark, sometimes before she even stood up! "Hi, I'm awake now, entertain me!" :wasntme:

    She also yawns really loudly, whines when she's tired or bored and is a really snorty sniffer and licker. For the most part, it makes me laugh. The barking I can do without, but, as I said, we've done a lot of training and it's vastly diminished.
     
  3. Saffy/isla

    Saffy/isla Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hi, my 16week old girl is barking at everything, when she's told of,when she's frustrated,while we eat,even if I'm in another room but she can still see me! Snowbunny you said you did lots of training,what did you do about the barking? It's so loud and she barks over and over, help.
     
  4. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    My puppy's barking was down to a low frustration tolerance, which it sounds like yours is too. So with her it was a case of slowly increasing her ability to deal with things that would previously make her frustrated. For example, not being entertained 24/7. I treated this like toilet training; if she was demanding attention, it was because I had expected her to go too long without attention. My bad. So I'd note it and make sure I interacted with her before that point the next time. Over time, just like with toilet training, I could extend the time she was expected to entertain herself.
     
  5. Saffy/isla

    Saffy/isla Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Thankyou, yes I think that sounds like my girl, she definitely seems frustrated at times. I will try this and see if I can get it right. It certainly makes sense, it just needs me to read the signals beforehand maybe.
     
  6. Chewies_mum

    Chewies_mum Registered Users

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    That's great to hear snowbunny. We can tell when he is about to bark (most of the time) and try to pre-empt it with redirection, like puppy push ups etc. As you said, the intervals between barks do gradually increase. And sometimes it looks like he is considering barking but then thinks better of it. Or he just makes a smaller sound.

    Hopefully we are on the right track!
     
  7. MF

    MF Registered Users

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    After I saw this video I tried to teach Snowie how to bark softly. I didn’t want to shut him up - his various vocalisations are so cute. So, when he barks softly he gets lots of praise. It seems to be working, although sometimes his bark is deafening! Fortunately he seldom barks, and only when he’s frustrated with me or very excited. I do love it when I can tell he’s made an effort to use his cute “inside” bark.

    As he’s grown older, he’s got more vocal - not what you wanted to hear!
     
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  8. Chewies_mum

    Chewies_mum Registered Users

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    Hopefully he goes the other way. When I was having a drink on the sofa today he was clearly trying to get my attention, but instead of barking he sort of.. grizzled. I'll take that as progress.
     
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  9. Chewies_mum

    Chewies_mum Registered Users

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    I have a question about his barking when we are cooking or eating. Our puppy school trainer says to completely ignore it OR to offer treats when he is lying down quietly.

    It's hard to work out how to combine those strategies. If we start out with treats he can be quiet for a whole meal, with LOTS of treats. If we don't treat soon enough he has a massive tantrum.

    Also, when we treat him he becomes really alert and attentive and wanting more treats. This is completely understandable but... does it defeat the purpose in that he becomes more alert rather than relaxed? Maybe I'm expecting too much from a 14 week old.

    Tips from everyone else with a food obsessed puppy would be much appreciated!
     
  10. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Our boy Obi is both vocal and food obsessed (aka a Labrador, hehe). He had a major barking habit when we got him at 9 months of age. If we sat down to eat or do anything (watch tv, read...) the barking started and the quiet moments were the milliseconds between barks. We chose to go down the road of training him to lie down on cue, then rewarding with treats while he was laying down. Over time we gradually reduced the treats. He can now go for a whole (human) meal without any treats but he is lying there attentively the whole time and definitely expects treats at the end (this involves licking the plates and he can definitely count how many plates he should be getting...). So, yeah, the attentiveness is a downside and I would much rather have a dog who settled quietly and expected nothing from a human meal. But, although we don't have that luxury, we have certainly come an awfully long way from where we started and we do get to eat in peace now. We can now also watch tv or read without him wanting food or attention...he just curls up on the couch.....as long as we are not also eating and as long as he has had enough entertainment during the day.

    Short training sessions are the most effective thing for using up energy and keeping barking at bay, we have found. We do these pre-emptively if we know we have a 'humans are being boring' session coming up. As Snowbunny said, teaching your dog to be able to cope with a bit of frustration and boringness will help an awful lot too. Anything that involves your dog having to wait a little bit or settle a bit to get something he wants. So, for example, on a walk, we used to sit down periodically on a bench or whatever. Obi would bark. As soon as he stopped barking and lay down we got up and kept walking (the reinforcer for the behaviour we wanted). I think this took about 10 minutes of barking the first time. The next time it happened more quickly. Over time we also gradually extended the expected duration of lying down before walking on again. That sort of thing helped a lot.
     
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  11. Chewies_mum

    Chewies_mum Registered Users

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    Thank you so much. So many similarities, though obviously our boy is younger and is happy to nap next to you while you read or work on the laptop. I find the barking quite stressful (I've had issues with anxiety and loud noises make me feel pretty anxious, plus I worry about the neighbours) so will probably focus on the treats for lying down and very gradually reducing the frequency.

    I think being more proactive with treats will be the better approach for my sanity and our neighbours than trying to ignore him. I could probably give him his dinner while I cook ours.

    It's good to know there are people who have been through this did come out the other side with a dog who doesn't bark through every meal!
     
  12. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Don’t be in any rush to reduce the treats. Reinforcing a lot in the early stages leads to a much stronger behaviour. Here’s what I would do. Don’t feed him from a bowl at all, if you currently are. Measure out all his daily food allowance and use that for rewarding calm throughout the day. Whenever he is calm, drop him a piece of kibble.

    Now, as you say, this will likely break the calm to start off, but there are a couple of things you can do to counteract that. One is to teach him not to move towards the food as you give it to him. Give the kibble to him slowly; if he tries to reach for it, stop and wait for his head to move away again. You can have a whole training session just on this so he gets the idea. Also, put the food on the bed rather than feeding to his mouth. That also reduces the grabbiness.

    The other thing you can do alongside is to reward a more settled body position. You can teach him to lay with his hip cocked over and head down. Once he has the idea, start selectively feeding him only when he’s in that position. It will for sure be a fake settle to start off with, but in time, the relaxed body position will actually create relaxation.

    Don’t rush these steps, and don’t be disheartened that feeding him jazzes him up in the early stages. He just has to learn the game.
     
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  13. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Absolutely, don’t rush to reduce the treats. I think it took us a couple of years to get to the point where he’d go for a whole meal without treats throughout. And if we go out with him to eat somewhere else we go back to giving treats during our meal.

    We have a little zippered pouch that we take out with us to friend’s houses with his treats in it so it’s a bit classier than the standard treat bag :) :)
     
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  14. KirbyHawk75

    KirbyHawk75 Registered Users

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    My 18 week old is very vocal. She is getting to the point of making our neighbors angry. Does anyone have some good advice?
     
  15. Chewies_mum

    Chewies_mum Registered Users

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    Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed reply. He almost never gets fed out of a bowl. It's all training/rewarding good behaviour and in food toys. I think we just need to be more consistent with food at times we know he gets agitated, and do some of the things you've suggested to keep him calm and stop the grabbing at kibble.

    He is a fast learner, but obviously food is a very strong temptation so we will go slowly and I'll update down the track. :)
     
  16. Chewies_mum

    Chewies_mum Registered Users

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    An update on the barking situation. He is getting better... slowly. We either reward quiet behaviour with kibble when we eat or give him a chew like a bully stick. As long as we don't slack off with this we can get through a meal with no barking.

    As for barking for attention, he generally stops the minute I turn my back and walk away. Sometimes he starts again, but not always. The worst time for barking is when I am about to leave the house during the week, not because he is going to miss me, but because he wants his Kong that we give him to tide him over until daycare comes to pick him up. :rolleyes:
     
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