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Old 02-01-2013, 03:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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When I first adopted Miles (about 10 months ago) he was very quiet. For the first 3 or 4 months, the loudest noise out of his mouth was his after-dinner-burp.

About 2 months ago he started barking, but only when someone is at the door or making noise on the porch. I'm fine with this; he's got a nice 'big dog' bark and he typically stops once I open the door for the visitor. (It was also a little disconcerting to live with a silent dog.)

In the past week or so he's been working some growls into the barking and it lasts a bit longer. So my question for all you lovely trainers out there is this: How to I make sure he doesn't progress to uncontrolled barking? When do I reward/discourage this behavior?
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm anxious for answers, too. Max has become quite the "talker"


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Old 02-01-2013, 06:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You can make sure the barking doesn't become a nuisance by teaching the command 'bark' and the command 'quiet'. This way you can allow him to bark at the door a few times (I allow this with Gryphon, as I sometimes cannot hear it) and then have them quiet.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:34 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I agree with MaryAnne. After all, your dog is basically doing their job and alerting you to potential threats, such as an intruder. While you may not appreciate it (or you might), your dog is actually trying to protect his family.

By putting the bark on cue and having a shut off cue, you're basically telling him that, yes, I hear that there's someone there. I've got the message, now you can stop alerting.

This also teaches impulse control, it shows that barking is appreciated in small amounts.
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:56 AM   #5 (permalink)
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That's exactly what I want to do. I like that he barks at the door, but just want to make sure he understands when to stop.
I guess it's the quiet command I'm worried about enforcing? When do you command/reward a non-behavior?
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:39 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I found "bark" to be really hard to teach my dogs to do, but "quiet" was actually really easy!

If you can teach them to bark on command first, this would be the easiest, otherwise what you want to do is have a high reward treat ready and get your dog to bark. Perhaps play a sound bite on your computer of someone knocking at the door, or get a friend to stand out there and do it.

When I stand in front of my dogs they automatically sit and "watch me" so if they're barking, this stops the barking. When they stop barking I say 'quiet' followed by 'good quiet' and then I give them their treat. Don't bribe them though! It doesn't really matter in the start how long they bark for before they stop. What you want them to realize is that something good happens when they stop barking, and then you want to attach the quiet cue word to that "good thing". Once you think you've got that connection then allow 1-3 barks (or however many you need) and then say quiet. When they stop say good quiet and reward.

I'm not a professional trainer or anything, this is just worked for me. It might also be helpful if you have a clicker, to mark the stop barking that way.
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:54 AM   #7 (permalink)
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MaryAnne is right and I don't really have anything to add to that. That's how it's taught. You want to enforce the quiet cue after a certain amount of barks every time for consistency unless the situation merits more barking, like if there's a real intruder or the dog is freaked out, etc.

There are several ways to get them to stop barking and you can ask for an incompatible behavior but I prefer to have the dog on leash, trigger barking, and then lead them away from the trigger and once they stop barking, cue in your word, marker and reward.
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Old 02-03-2013, 05:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I think teaching him the bark and quiet commands are a great idea. My previous toy poodle would bark everytime he heard someone at the door. I taught him to 'go to his place'....you have to start small and add distractions like anything else, but this was one of the best commands. He had a nice comfy bed and if I said go to your place, he had to go to his place and was not allowed to leave it until I told him OK... (he could do anything he wanted on his place...sit, sleep, lay down with a chew toy). When he learned this he was always quiet and then I added distractions. He associated his place with being quiet and chilling out. This ended up being a great command because he could still be involved when people came over without getting in their way. I also think he was lessed stressed out because it wasn't his responsibiltiy to check out the people at the door, it was just his responsibility to chill.
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