Reactive Barking in the Garden

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Joined:Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:06 am
Reactive Barking in the Garden

Post by Appy » Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:26 am

Hi all

I'm looking for some ideas to help my 8 month old miniature schnauzer deal with noises and activity when she is outside in the garden or indeed inside as the noises of my neighbours slamming car doors, kids yelling also creates some anxiety. A little background on her: she is walked twice a day and gets to spend lots of time running around with her friends and her sister. She is also trained on walks, indoors etc and is extremely familiar with the clicker! She's fed twice a day on a good quality dog food and is a pretty smart girlie. When outdoors we play games, do some agility etc which helps a lot with the reactivity, and she is not outdoors running around on her own getting into mischief!!

Her temperament is rather timid - she is nervous and looks to me a great deal for support and security. When she barks and reacts to noises etc, she will run to me so this is obviously a nervous thing as opposed to her sister who will alarm/guard back when she sees a perceived threat. She is well socialised etc but has always been a little cautious since she was a pup.

Our neighbour has historically thrown a complete fit at their barking in the past, so there is pressure of a sort that means it will be difficult to go through extinction barking by just ignoring it. I am also not sure just ignoring is the right option as I do think she is somewhat anxious rather than simply attention seeking.

My current ideas are.....

Get a really good 'watch me' so that when I'm working from home, I can work outside and ask her to 'watch me' when there are noises/people walking past etc.

Based on the Wiemerana episode, whistle when she reacts to someone walking by/noises etc so that she gets to come away from the distraction and also associate it with a treat. Is this something thats worth thinking about or might she work out 'aha! I bark, come to mum and get a treat' as opposed to coming away from the distraction???

Call her to me and ask her to do something and then the 'something' eg sit gets rewarded?

What have other people done?

Thanks for your help and sorry for the length of post!!

Joined:Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:24 pm
Location:West Midlands

Re: Reactive Barking in the Garden

Post by emmabeth » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:34 pm

With this sort of fear/nerves based reaction I like to associate the scary sounds with rewards - it takes a little while but if you make sure shes only ever out there with you, and you are close by and have a pocket full of tasty treats...

Then when a scary sound happens, regardless of what SHE does.. you toss a handful of treats her way (do make sure she sees them and is aware you have them).

Repeat this for every time you hear a sound, doesnt matter what she does, if you are consistent enough she will start to associate the sound with the treats (rather than her behaviour and the treats, shes not likely to be fully aware of her own behaviour anyway, shes focussing on 'whats that i heard' and shes reacting, not thinking!).

Keep this up and make it clear the treats come from you, sound = treats, you = treats and she should start to expect treats when she hears a sound and be happier about the sounds which should calm down the barkng at them!
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

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