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CesarMillan
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎09-11-2007
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Nuisance Barking - Some General Thoughts

Many of you in your posts mention what is often called "nuisance barking"; that is, when a dog seems to go into a mode of uncontrollable or obsessive barking in certain situations. Bonmomof3, Tapper42nd, Debbi-Levy, Debbie_Doodle, SunnyB, Mariapedraza, Lezad, rntoyou2003, oremm, Reyna, Bernice, lindaleechapel, and kmfr29 all describe various barking issues, so this is clearly a common problem for many of you.

It is important to remember that barking was one of the canine traits that attracted early humans to dogs in the first place! Having dogs in a camp or a settlement insured that humans would be alerted to strange predators, be they animal or human. Most modern day humans still appreciate the fact that their dogs let them know when someone is at the door or is approaching the property. The problem is, most of our dogs are living in very unnatural situations in our modern world. When they have a lot of anxiety, pent-up frustrations, are over-excited or are unsure of their role in the pack, their barking can easily get out of control.

When a stranger approaches my Dog Psychology center, all thirty to forty dogs will begin to sound the alarm. It is absolutely in their nature to do so. The way that I control this behavior and make sure their natural alert calls don't escalate into an ear-splitting barking orgy is to instantly assert my leadership and tell them with my energy, "It's okay, I'm in charge here. I know what's going on; you don't have to worry about it." It sounds simplistic, but owning your role as the Pack Leader is absolutely key to managing or redirecting any instinctual behavior.

One important thing about controlling barking is follow-through. If you give a dog a look, a sound, or a physical correction to tell him to stop barking, he might stop for an instant, wait until you relax, then go right back to what he was doing. What happens here is the dog's body relaxes, but the brain stays on alert. That's why you must follow-through, especially in the beginning when you are trying to recondition the behavior. You must be patient, wait until you see your dog give you complete and total submission, and only then go back to what you were doing. You need to do more than just snap your dog out of barking - you need to have a complete conversation with your dog that communicates that you are in control and his barking is not wanted by you. Your dog will take you seriously only if you really are serious.

Another issue I find with people is they get so irritated with the barking and the noise that their own frustration level rises to a peak. This is totally understandable - but you can't expect your dog to follow you if you are trying to control him with frustrated energy. Your dog will mirror your energy right back at you, so if you're frustrated, then he's frustrated, and when he's frustrated, it makes sense to bark. Animals don't follow anxious, angry or frustrated leaders. Hard as it may seem, you need to find a way to control your own frustration and correct your dog calmly in order for him to get the message.

If a dog is barking repeatedly in the presence of an object, a person, in a place, or in a certain situation, it's important to make a point of really "owning" that thing, person, place or situation. A good follower is not going to bark at something if the Pack Leader "owns" it. If any of you saw the segment in show 14, Season 2 about the two Akitas, Greta and Hoss, you saw that Hoss would go crazy barking and lunging at the window when other dogs passed by. The owners weren't owning the couch in front of the window, the window, or even the room where Hoss would behave the worst. Today, Hoss' owners report that he waits respectfully outside the door to that same room until he is invited in. All this resulted from the owners working diligently to really own the places in their home that had become problem areas. They are able to do this with energy alone, not with bark collars or other tools. I always say, your calm-assertive energy is the best tool you have!

Finally, I find dogs with barking issues are often dogs with pent-up energy. Making sure your dog has the right amount of exercise for his energy level and is relaxed, calm and submissive before you put him in a situation that is likely to trigger barking is a solid step toward preventing or at least diminishing the behavior.

I hope these suggestions help each of you in your specific situations.

Cesar


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Bernice
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Registered: ‎09-29-2007
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Re: Nuisance Barking - Some General Thoughts

Oh, but Cesar, how do we find this calm energy and claim ownership of the door, thr front hallway and the other space that our dogs get to before we can when someone rings the bell or walks down the street. I read your first book and have watched you on television, and what you do is terrific. But how do we do it? What do we do? For sure, all of us in this discussion group love our dogs, or we wouldn't be here.
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CesarMillan
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎09-11-2007
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Re: Nuisance Barking - Some General Thoughts


Bernice wrote:
Oh, but Cesar, how do we find this calm energy and claim ownership of the door, thr front hallway and the other space that our dogs get to before we can when someone rings the bell or walks down the street. I read your first book and have watched you on television, and what you do is terrific. But how do we do it? What do we do? For sure, all of us in this discussion group love our dogs, or we wouldn't be here.




Bernice, I hope reading BE THE PACK LEADER will help you learn some techniques to harness the calm and assertive energy within yourself. It may seem daunting at first, but you do possess that energy! You just have to believe it.

As for your question, the only way to condition a dog to do something different than he has always been doing is to practice, practice, practice. Enlist a family member to ring the doorbell and work on your front hall strategy every day until you see a change. Ask a friend with a calm, balanced dog to walk past you (at a safe distance) on the street as you work with your dog. Do these exercises when you yourself are rested, relaxed, and willing to be totally patient. And of course, if you feel truly overwhelmed, there are many great professionals out there just waiting for a phone call.

Have other readers succeeded in using these strategies? I'd love to hear your success stories.


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Stephanie
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Nuisance Barking - Some General Thoughts

Cesar,

So true- practice (perfect practice, that is) does make perfect. How many times do you have to say it? As many as it takes! I spent three hours over the course of as many days on a ten foot stretch of sidewalk with a friend's dog on a leash and I don't know if we got more than 30 steps in all that time. But, by the time we were finished, the dog knew not to try to drag me down the street. I spoke only the words "wait" and "walk" and I just stopped every time she pulled. She wasn't the quickest study, but she eventually understood that if she wanted to get anywhere, pulling wasn't going to be part of the walk.
Stephanie
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CesarMillan
Posts: 16
Registered: ‎09-11-2007
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Re: Nuisance Barking - Some General Thoughts


Stephanie wrote:
Cesar,

So true- practice (perfect practice, that is) does make perfect. How many times do you have to say it? As many as it takes! I spent three hours over the course of as many days on a ten foot stretch of sidewalk with a friend's dog on a leash and I don't know if we got more than 30 steps in all that time. But, by the time we were finished, the dog knew not to try to drag me down the street. I spoke only the words "wait" and "walk" and I just stopped every time she pulled. She wasn't the quickest study, but she eventually understood that if she wanted to get anywhere, pulling wasn't going to be part of the walk.




I am very proud of you, Stephanie. Patience is something we can learn from animals. If you have ever watched a nature documentary about a tiger or leopard hunting, you will see the extreme patience they use when they stalk their prey. Wolves and Wild Dogs in the wild will travel great distances and wait until just the right moment to undertake a hunt.
Even small animals like squirrels, when they are startled, will stop whatever they are doing an wait, watching and listening, sometimes for a very long time, until they feel it's time to move. We humans have become used to getting everything FAST! Fast food, a million TV channels, instant messaging, whatever - we have lost the instinctual art of waiting. And sometimes, we pass our impatience on to our dogs.

Even though I am able to make some changes on the show very quickly, they won't stick unless the dog's owners continue every day, consistently, repeating the methods I've taught them. But as you've seen yourself, patience does pay off! If we can clearly and calmly communicate our wishes to our dogs, they will happily follow us. But it's not always an instant fix.


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Reyna
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Re: Nuisance Barking - Some General Thoughts



CesarMillan wrote:

Bernice wrote:
Oh, but Cesar, how do we find this calm energy and claim ownership of the door, thr front hallway and the other space that our dogs get to before we can when someone rings the bell or walks down the street. I read your first book and have watched you on television, and what you do is terrific. But how do we do it? What do we do? For sure, all of us in this discussion group love our dogs, or we wouldn't be here.




Bernice, I hope reading BE THE PACK LEADER will help you learn some techniques to harness the calm and assertive energy within yourself. It may seem daunting at first, but you do possess that energy! You just have to believe it.

As for your question, the only way to condition a dog to do something different than he has always been doing is to practice, practice, practice. Enlist a family member to ring the doorbell and work on your front hall strategy every day until you see a change. Ask a friend with a calm, balanced dog to walk past you (at a safe distance) on the street as you work with your dog. Do these exercises when you yourself are rested, relaxed, and willing to be totally patient. And of course, if you feel truly overwhelmed, there are many great professionals out there just waiting for a phone call.

Have other readers succeeded in using these strategies? I'd love to hear your success stories.


I live on a golf course and therefore my backyard not only gets alot of golf balls but also alot of golfers passing by (looking for those golf balls!). Oliver my Welsh Terrier will run out of the house through his doggy door to bark at the golfers and alert me that they are there. I would initially call his name and tell him to come back inside. This of course did not work. The barking went on and only stopped when the golfers moved on to another hole. I decided to "own" the backyard like Cesar discusses and now he will still run outside when he hears a golfer approaching. Immediately I would go outside, say "good boy Oliver" and touch him gently and look to see "who it is". I then tell him, it's okay Oliver, it's a golfer. Let's go do something else. Instead of brining him inside the house, we stay outside and play fetch or something. I did this consistently for about 2 months. Now, he still goes outside when a golfer comes by, but he just stands at alert and watches them until they move to another hole. I still go outside occasionally and say good boy, or just stand by the glass door so he can see me that I've acknowledged his "watch dog" behavior. I'm not sure if this is the right way to do it, but I think I've desensitizing him to the golfers as "bad" or "danger", but rather as "look, there is someone outside, come see".
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