Puppy barking at other dogs and people...

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Puppy barking at other dogs and people...

Post by Emily2195 » Sat Dec 09, 2017 12:32 pm


We have a 4 month old puppy who has developed a need to bark at any dog we see on a walk (when she is both on lead and off lead), and at the odd person (without a dog). She's been well socialised and is continually socialised with a variety of dogs. If we're out walking with friends dogs then she doesn't bark at them.
I feel its definitely excitement as if the other dog comes over/she goes over to the other dog, she's desperate to play.

When she starts to bark, she won't be distracted by food or a squeaky toy. If i walk in another direction, she will carry on barking for 10-15 seconds and then generally will stop but is this actually teaching her not to bark at other dogs? Ideally, we don't want to be having to walk in multiple directions for the rest of her life! I would say she started this unwanted behaviour about 3-4 weeks ago.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank You :)

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Re: Puppy barking at other dogs and people...

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:05 pm

Hiya Emily,

Going through this right now with my 10 month old puppy. Firstly I want to say that even if its excitement now it can turn into frustration that can lead to quite an angry sounding dog at the end of the lead despite them being extreamly sociable off lead. The key is to make leaving the other dogs behind worth it, which, I'm going to be honest here, I've not managed to entirely get right myself! I'll pass on all the advice I was given by both professional trainers / behaviourists and the lovely, knowledgable people on this forum!

The advice I was given that did work for a time was;

- Don't let them ever meet dogs when they are carrying on otherwise they think barking works.

- Reward your dog after the dog has passed by even if they were being a nutcase, so they associate not greeting a dog with something positive. This piece of advice worked amazingly for a while, but then my boys hormones took over. You do initially think you're rewarding the barking, but for me it stopped him barking and instead he thought 'oh look a dog, where is my chicken?'.

- Work on the dog's focus on you. I couldn't do this at all UNLESS he was already walking with other dogs. Then eventually I was able to get him to 'watch me' or 'stay' around other dogs which did mean I was able to then work on his focus if he saw a dog but was on his own. You say your dog is fine walking with your friends dogs so you might need to do the same to begin with!

- Limit or totally remove on lead greetings all together. Dogs don't do 'sometimes' very well, and whilst lots of dogs can shrug it off there are some (like our hooligans) that simply can't stand the injustice of not being able to meet every single dog.

- If they see a dog and they are not yet reacting, click (if you use a clicker) and reward them. This way any frustration they might be feeling is lowered with a tasty treat, and they also know that being quiet isn't such a bad idea. If they then decide to bark move away from the dog and reward when the dog has passed by. Despite our dogs already loving other dogs, frustration of not being able to meet them can become the defacto feeling they get when looking at dogs which is what you want to avoid and doing this helps. This also has the added bonus of breaking your dogs eye contact (when they take the food from you) which puts the other dog at ease which makes the entire encounter less stressful. Lots of dogs don't appreciate a barking maniac lunging at them to play and they can react back which won't help at all!

- With people it is generally easier since you can explain to the person what is going on. Basically no people contact unless all four paws on the floor and they aren't barking. If they aren't meeting the person, then reward when the person goes past and tell them how good they are (the dog not the person! :lol:) I had this problem with mine aswell but this one was an easy fix. I had my boy sit for strokes from strangers instead of charging at them barking. He then ended up sitting down and waiting for strokes (which he got because it was adorable and people couldn't resist!) and from there we moved onto saying 'lets go!' and not getting strokes. Then from there just wiggling past people who didn't say hello and getting a treat. And now he doesn't even try unless he knows the person, or they turn around and say something to him. At which point the wiggle is on.

Another thing I was told when begging for advice on this forum is that age is a huge factor. Puppies and adolescent dogs don't really get the whole concept of self control and with time they will start to be able to control themselves better, but there are ways you can help them along. I think there is a whole post on this forum about self control games which your dog will love doing, and the more they exercise that muscle the better they will be at it. At the moment your puppy is the equivilent of a petulent child stomping his feet because you said no to ice cream.

Good luck and I would love to know of any advice you have got to work for you, as my boy, after being amazing for a few months, reverted right back to square one with an added bonus of frustration with dogs.

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Re: Puppy barking at other dogs and people...

Post by jacksdad » Sat Dec 09, 2017 4:38 pm

I am currently working with a client who's young dog has developed some frustration at not getting to go up to other dogs.
- Don't let them ever meet dogs when they are carrying on otherwise they think barking works.
As a blanket rule I am going to disagree strongly. IF (big if) the dog is truly socially motivated...YA DOGS, I LOVE OTHER DOGS, depriving them of social opportunities OR the opportunity to get it right and greet calmly and briefly can make this situation worse.

Having said that the point isn't entirely wrong, but I would modify it a bit you absolutely do not want your dog to learn that barking, pulling, lunging carrying on like a nut case is the way to get to greet dogs.

The way i would advise this concept is. MOST of the time your dog doesn't greet other dogs and in place you train an alternate behavior to do in place of greeting that is HUGELY rewarding. right now if your dog is socially motivated (I LOVE ALL OTHER DOGS...yippy lets play) that is like getting a $100 bill every time the get up to another dog. find something that is better than or close to that level of reward. Hot dog, a game of tug, etc that you dog will get access to in place of going up to another dog. then they earn access to that via looking at you vs the other dog.

your dog sees the other dog...the other dog becomes to cue to look at / focus on you...looking at and focusing on you makes this other SUPER YUMMY or SUPER FUN thing happen.

At the end of the week, if you totaled up how much "money" your dog earns from greeting other dogs or looking at you, you would want to see a total like...

greeting other dog = $100
looking at you, getting hot dog or game of tug etc = $100,000

It is hard to truly compete with the reinforcement of greeting/playing with dogs IF your dog is truly YIPPY I LOVE DOGs on a one for one. BUT we can cause lots MORE equally or close to reinforcement to happen.

The law here is if two things are equal in reinforcement value (or close) the one with the more history of reinforcement is the one your dog is more likely to do.

Long term, the goal is to teach your dog that YES you will get to greet/play with dogs, but NO you will not get to with every dog that comes down the "path". in place you get to do this other fun things.

To there here though you do have to lay some foundations. and short term that may include as suggested no other dogs on walks period as you do NOT want your dog practicing the wrong behavior. But long term if that is a blanket rule you may actually cause more problems or make no progress. and while you may not allow greetings on walks, do your best to find other ways to give your dog some dog / dog social time in a way that won't let them practice the unwanted behavior.

The foundation -
Work on the dog's focus on you.
couldn't agree more. The place to start though is in your living room or some other low distraction place. this is the very start and a critical foundation for teaching your dog that there are things that give more (as in volume of) reinforcement that are worth doing rather than going up to another dog.

So starting in your living room, wait for your dog to look at you, soon as it happens, food is earned. don't let them see the food until they look at you. they need to learn that looking at you makes the food happen. initially don't expect long eye to eye looks. start with quick glances at you if need be, looking at your but not your eyes is ok. some dogs don't like eye to eye. some are ok with it, and some need to slowly learn that it is ok and rewarding to look eye to eye.

so your dog looked at you, you gave a bit of food, repeat. stay at this level until your dog is pretty much staring at you or you get 10 or close to 10 looks in 30 seconds pretty reliably.

Then after they look and gotten their food, you move a foot or two to be in a different location, wait for the look. follow the same idea above.

when out on walks, be on the alert for when your dog looks at you...dogs looks at your, food happens.

note I haven't yet talked about asking for this from your dog, we are building a default behavior something your dog will just do. you can put it on cue just like with sit, but I would hold off for now. get this basic level in place first, then add in a cue.

Reward your dog after the dog has passed by even if they were being a nutcase, so they associate not greeting a dog with something positive.

This can be ok if you are using classical conditioning to help a fearful dog change their association with other dogs. But if the dog already likes other dogs this can backfire. no matter the reason (fear, frustration, over excitement) if your dog is acting like a nutcase, then something has gone wrong and odds of learning are minimal to none. it is best to regroup and try again at a greater distance.

The way I would advise this suggestion is to break it down into smaller steps to start and depend more on your dog making the treat happen by their doing a wanted behavior vs other dog making food happen. If fearful, dog sees other dog, treats start happening then, NOT after they have passed. Dog sees other dogs, treat, treat, treat (passing) treat, treat, treat (at faster pace)...you are now passed...Treat and stop treats.

for an excited dog similar idea to start but not the same. You need to start at a distance your dog can choose to focus back on you. you can practice this with a dog your dog is buddies with. lets assume 10 feet is the distance your dog needs to NOT be "nutcase" about another dog.

at 10 feet appart you and your dog start walking towards your friend an their dog. soon as your dog sees the other dog, treat, treat (passing) up the rate of treats one after the other, after passing one last treat and stop treats.

dog that a couple times. then repeat one more time and this time wait just a second maybe 2 seconds from your dog seeing the other dog and turning towards you to get the treat then start the treats.

then when 2 seconds delay is easy for your dog, make it 5 seconds delay, then a 7 second, then a 10 second etc. the goal is to in small time increases from "see dog" and look at you until treat happens until you can walk past your friend and their dog for one treat while your dog looks at you.

work for 1 to 2 minutes at a time, this won't happen in one session but you can do a couple sessions and in between give your dog a play break with their friend. this also teaches some self control. they work for a few minutes then get to play. just like you build how much of a delay between see dog and look at you before treats happen you can build longer time between play sessions.

Next using your dogs friend you can teach how to approach another dog. this may take some time the first session. one possible way to accomplish this is....

approach your friend and their dog, rewarding your dog as much as you need to keep them in a loose heel and paying attention to you. one treat per step to start if need be. Then when you get close enough to greet, dogs sit next to their person, look at their person THEN get to go greet. let the greeting go for 3 to 5 seconds tops, call dogs out of the greeting and as they come out it is ok to reward and reward the walking away from the other dog.

If your dog lunges or breaks the "loose heel", stop moving towards the dog, turn and go back to the start. if you need it is ok to reward your dog turning and going with you. ONLY approach when when your dog can stay calm, stay next to you.

The point is...teach what you want your dog to do, break it into small steps and build up. we often screw up a good idea because we jumped what we expected our dogs to do too quickly OR didn't build the foundation skills.

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Re: Puppy barking at other dogs and people...

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sat Dec 09, 2017 5:10 pm

Definately listen to Jacksdad, I know I'm going to :D. Hopefully both our hooligans can be helped by his wonderful advice!

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Re: Puppy barking at other dogs and people...

Post by Nettle » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:01 am

To pick up on one part of Jacksdad's excellent advice - only allow your dog to meet another dog IF the other DOG says 'yes' after you have asked the owner - which is why to start with you only do this with an existing dog 'friend'.

It's easy to forget the 'other dog' perspective when laying foundation work with our own. But the other dog may be under de-sensitising training too, and the last thing it needs is to be targeted by an excited lunging noisy strange dog (think if someone you'd never met ran up to you screaming in the street, smacked you on the shoulder and then hugged you).

Not every, in fact not many, owners are aware of how their dogs feel either. If the owner says OH YES it'll be fine and the dog says OH NO it won't - believe the dog.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog


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Re: Puppy barking at other dogs and people...

Post by Shalista » Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:52 am

*NODNOD* what nettle said. the number of times ive tried taking Bax up for a casual sniff and meet only for the other dog to be VERY not interested, i cant even count. And then I'm pulling Bax away and the other owner is all "Oh hes just being shy right now" and im all "I know, this is me giving him some space." :roll:
Baxter (AKA Bax, Chuckles, Chuckster) Rat Terrier, born 01/16/13

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Re: Puppy barking at other dogs and people...

Post by jacksdad » Sun Dec 10, 2017 10:41 am

Nettle wrote:
Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:01 am
Not every, in fact not many, owners are aware of how their dogs feel either. If the owner says OH YES it'll be fine and the dog says OH NO it won't - believe the dog.
thank you for adding that. I often (often because the owner may not get a choice and force the meet and greet) ignore the owner and take my cue from their dog. even though my dog has gotten to the point he is ok with saying hi and generally wants to or would be ok to, if the other dog is giving of the the "I would rather not" regardless of what the owner is saying, we don't say hi. If need be I make some excuse about my own dog to prevent the situation.

this is also why we MUST emphasis that alternate behavior to greeting and make sure that gets a whole lot of reinforcement because as Nettle points out, not ever dog wants to be said "hi" to.

I do want to again emphasis my post above is going with the assumption that the dog in question TRULY LOVES other dogs and may just be excited and not able to greet calmly OR is starting down the path of frustration due to restraint by the leash.

IF there is any fear, DO NOT follow this advice. you need a different plan.

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