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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there, all! My 6 month old standard, Echo, has started barking lately. He never did before, so I assume it's a teenage fear phase he's hit. The thing is, he's not barking out a window or at sights or etc. He's barking at sounds— Sounds WE can't hear, far off in the distance LOL. I think it's cars on the freeway?!

How do I help him get over this, cuz it's driving us crazy! White noise helps a little bit, but I'd like to teach him whatever he's hearing is okay... Except I can't 100% say for sure what the heck he's hearing.
 

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Ahhh yes. Sounds like Echo has found his voice....and a job. :)

Leaving the TV on low can be helpful. We almost always have Turner Classic Movies streaming for Peggy. When she barks, we go investigate, thank her, and tell her we have it under control. We do this sincerely. Making a big show of it or just pretending to look doesn’t seem to work. (Clever poodles!) But if she trusts we really do have the situation under control, she’s much more likely to settle back down.

Putting a name to noises also seems to help. For example, there’s construction going on at the end of our street, which sometimes results in noises that worry her. I just tell her “It’s David” (the name of our painter lol). And she’s like, oh cool I know David. :LOL:

Making sure she’s not bored or overtired is another important part of managing excessive alerting.
 

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P.S. What you don’t want to do is shout, even when you really want to shout. Imagine being a kid and thinking there’s a burglar outside. You tug on an adult’s sleeve and explain your worry, pointing anxiously at the window. The adult responds by screaming. :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I had heard the thank you and going to see what he's barking at is a good method, like you say, but he super doesn't seem to care if we tell him good job or anything like that! The Thing (whatever he may be hearing) still scares him, and he still barks.

He ALSO barks at other people getting up and doing things first thing in the morning, from my room. Going 'that's just Daddy' or etc and calling him back to bed works okay for that- though considering it's at 6am I wish he wouldn't bark at all.
 

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At about that age Penny would bark at sounds coming from upstairs. Cats playing and thumping, family members walking. It didn’t last too long because she learned these are just house sounds and she also became more secure as she aged and learned there really aren’t hidden monsters living in the house. I did find it weird that my 6-8 month old puppy was still doing baby things like that despite looking like a small adult dog. Their brains mature way slower than their bodies lol. They need lots of patience.
Penny didn’t respond at first to the “go and check it out” method but over time it started to work better and better. I also found that talking quietly, even whispering, breaks her out of the barky mindset. Maybe she quiets down so she can hear what I’m saying, maybe she feeds off the quiet energy, I don’t know. But as long as you respond positively and calmly (easier said than done with a teenage dog haha) they tend to catch on.
 

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Oh yeah, it definitely takes consistency and repetition. I’ll be honest, at 2.5 years, Peggy is finally alerting an acceptable amount. And even still, when we went on vacation for a few weeks, she was ultra alerty to all the new noises.

A lot of it, as @PennyDog said, is them learning what’s worthy of a reaction and what isn’t. Us staying calm is a huge part of that.

Until very recently, Peggy was still barking or growling at passerby when she was out for a front-yard potty. Now she barely glances at them like, “Random guy jogging by again? Boooooring.”
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Consistency is key! It gives me a lot of hope to hear you all saying that your poodles started to grow out of it with patience and calmness :). I will keep at it! Right now we are doing desensitization. He barks a bit, I either call him over or go to him and say 'quiet', then give him a lil biscuit piece when he's quiet for long enough then PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE. There is just sooo much to work on with a boy his age, hooo. Overwhelming!
 

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SUPER overwhelming. I get it. And it’s hard not to give up and keep trying new things.

Reinforcing those moments of silence is a great idea. If you can catch him right before he barks, and stick a treat or toy in his mouth, he’ll either a) eventually start looking to you when he hears something worrisome or b) associate previously worrisome noises with good feelings. Or, like Peggy, maybe a little of both. :)

I’ll never forget the first time her head whipped around to us for a treat when a scary thing happened.
 

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I am seeing a big difference with Freddy's alert barking at nearly 6 months compared with Sophy's. Sophy hit that age, decided as the only dog in the house she was now responsible for warning about possible dangers, and barked at everything, not having a clue of course what was dangerous or not. A pair of jackdaws were trying to build a nest above the back door and she barked at every dropped twig - they dropped dozens of twigs an hour. Freddy, with the two older dogs to guide him, is far more laid back - he startles, barks, realises the others are ignoring whatever it is, and files it under Not Dangerous, No Warning.

With Sophy I followed Turid Rugaas's advice - get up calmly, investigate while standing between your dog and whatever it is (back to the dog), say thank you but nothing to worry about, go back to what you were doing. And try not to shriek with frustration and irritation as you do it for what feels like the 700th time that morning! Joining in by shouting makes it worse, but we all do it at times. Talking very softly and soothingly helps - when Freddy barks I murmur that the other dogs are still snoozing so it is nothing to worry about and he settles back down, but Sophy needed more than that. It took a while - at the time it seemed forever - but she gradually learned what could be safely ignored.

Turid Rugaas's booklet "Barking: the sound of a language" might be helpful.
 
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I do a mix of calm 'dont worry everythings ok' and yelling. I am trying to cut out the yelling but sometimes I just lose it.

At 10 months Rusty is alarm barking less but it still happens too much for my liking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you guys! Gosh the barking is so shrill lol, I will definitely go investigate more because he DOES seem to appreciate when I do that now that I'm actually paying attention (it didn't work really but he did seem comforted so maybe that is good??)
 

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He barks a bit, I either call him over or go to him and say 'quiet', then give him a lil biscuit piece when he's quiet for long enough then PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE.
Maybe I can help you a bit with this. Please do not go to him and wait a few seconds and treat him, also do not call him over to you and wait a few seconds and treat. You will inadvertently train him to train you to reward for his barking.
The easy fix is to have him wear a traffic lead [only while in house and supervised]. When he alerts allow 1 bark then go to him take the lead and move him to place bed whatever you use and put him in a down. after 1 minute go to his place and treat and release .Do not release then treat. If you stay consistent with this he will train himself to alert and then go to place and calmly wait. Do not add a cue for the first week and then add place bed whatever you wish.

My pup is 2 weeks older than yours and is going through the same thing. Only 2 days before I changed it. Although they recover from fear periods some rehearsed behaviours stay and are very difficult to change so now is the time to do this. Also please do not drag him away to a BEDROOM OR CRATE. You do not want to punish just change the result. keep it where all the people are usually. .

If you have not trained a stay or place it is very easy and worthwhile to do. Take 3 days to a week [several times a day] to get it started before you use this method. Good luck!!
 
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