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How much puppy barking is... normal?

2058 Views 12 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Mfmst
I'm beginning to wonder if our puppy's breeder took me for a little bit of a ride on the pedigree...

Even on days where we spend all day with our puppy, half of it outdoors running around, the rest him either keeping company in the office or watching us cook and make dinner from the gated utility room, he loses his little mind when there are no people in sight and barks his head off. He won't stop. No amount of ignoring it and rewarding quiet works... he just barks when we walk away. No amount of "Be quiet!" works.

He's 15 weeks old and we've had him since he's 8 weeks. I'm a stay at home mom with two small children. He gets plenty of daily play and interaction. Is this normal puppy behavior or indicative of poor temperament/breeding? Thanks all.
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Also, he has this odd behavior where he won't come in from outside, but will stand on the stoop and wag his tail nervously, or look at me from where he is in the sideyard and sit there. I think he may be nervous about being left alone, since sometimes when he's brought in from outside he has to be in the utility room by himself while we get kids ready for bed, etc. He also will simply sit when on the leash and not want to move when doing circuits around the yard. I know all dogs have quirks but I'm a bit flummoxed by these behaviors. |

He otherwise shows no sign of anxiety. Our youngest daughter tripped and fell on his face (under direct parental supervision... these things happen) and he took it like a champ. He's good with the kids - for a puppy, of course. They are very chaotic but it doesn't put him off. No guarding, very loose with food and resources.
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Hmm. Do you mean barking or crying? None of my guys barked very much at 15 weeks. They would cry, shriek, wail, or throw a tantrum about being left alone, but they did very little true barking. I think instinct told them they were still babies and not to attract unnecessary attention. It wasn't until about 8 months or so that they got big and confident enough to bark out challenges to the world.
Our puppy's almost five months; he whines and cries and generally feels sorry for himself when he feels that he's been left alone too long.

Your puppy may be crying because he's separated from his pack. Could you crate him in the kitchen or playroom? Somewhere he can see you?
So... separation anxiety already ? No fun.
Patricia McConnell has a good booklet about it. I'll Be Home Soon: How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety: Patricia B. McConnell: 8601420613997: Books - Amazon.ca

For now - work on 5s out of sight when he's very distracted (table scraps on kibble distracted, for example). Then 10s, 30s, etc, etc. Then two rooms over. Then out the door...
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Are you using a specific training manual/method? Has he been taught to self-soothe and settle? To be alone? These are skills that don't come naturally to a puppy.
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Is he your first dog ? Even if not, you might have inadvertently rewarded barking. Sometimes it only takes once or twice.

About him not wanting to come inside, what you’re describing is exactly a dog who knows what’s coming and trying to escape it. Poodles are smart. Poor dog doesn’t want to go in this room where he knows he’ll be alone. That’s easy to fix. Stop putting him in the room right after coming from outside. Wait 15-20 minutes.

Are you crate training ? If not, you should. Instead of being in a room, he could be in his crate with a kong to chew or other toy, and be close to you.

As Peggy said, also work on settle. Watch this :
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It does sound like you may have accidentally been rewarding the whining. Even saying "Be quiet" to a puppy is very rewarding because it gives them attention. The ignoring works but it must be 100% and children must be schooled in exactly how to behave around the puppy so he is not inadvertently rewarded. It is very normal for puppies to cry a lot when separated because this is very unnatural and against their instincts. They need to learn to self soothe, as Peggy said. My dog is particularly inclined to separation anxiety, but he quit most of the whining after the first two days of strict ignoring on my part. It works, but once they are set in their habits it may take longer to break them of it. Is he in a puppy class?
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P.S. Nothing you've described sounds like an indicator of a poor temperament. So take some deep breaths because your little guy is likely to get more challenging in many ways before he gets less challenging. :) He's at a pivotal age.

Imagine a toddler crying because his mom, dad, and siblings leave the room. No indication when they'll be back. Nothing to do in the meantime. You would never assume there was something wrong with him for feeling anxious, would you?

Or imagine the same toddler showing reluctance to come inside because he knows the fun always ends when he does. Even worse, he sometimes gets put in a room alone and doesn't know why!

How about teaching your puppy that there's something to look forward to when he comes in? A juicy stuffed Kong or a special toy he only gets when he comes inside? Something to engage his mind and his senses and to help him settle down, maybe even snooze. (Puppies need LOTS of naps.)

I know we shouldn't anthropomorphize our dogs, but I do find it helpful sometimes to remember that a baby is a baby, regardless of the species. They are brand new to this world and at our mercy.
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Thanks everyone!
@cowpony I mean like alarm barking, like bow-wow-wow-wow-wow! Bow-wow-wow!
@Dianaleez The crate location mitigates the allergen flow which is an unfortunate fact of life for all of us, so it can't be moved.
@ForWantofPoodle Good idea with the distraction!
@Dechi He is our first puppy. I think you're totally right, he is anticipating his isolation and is smart enough to "plan," which is pretty darn smart for a dog. People said poodles are sensitive and I have observed this.
@Raindrops He's not in a puppy class. We live in a rural area so it's a major event getting to one.
@PeggyTheParti Thank you for your insight! And I'm glad it's not a temperament issue haha, as a mom I am hyper vigilant about that. When I think of how much my kids cry and whine when I leave the room (always for a good reason! and with a plan to return shortly! Ahem!) it definitely contextualizes the behavior better. What would you put in the Kong? I have some chews for him but they don't always seal the deal. I understand what you mean about anthropomorphizing, but you're just drawing general parallels, I think you're in the clear! ;)
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Thank you for your insight! And I'm glad it's not a temperament issue haha, as a mom I am hyper vigilant about that. When I think of how much my kids cry and whine when I leave the room (always for a good reason! and with a plan to return shortly! Ahem!) it definitely contextualizes the behavior better. What would you put in the Kong? I have some chews for him but they don't always seal the deal. I understand what you mean about anthropomorphizing, but you're just drawing general parallels, I think you're in the clear! ;)
This is my favourite resource and goes in-depth on how to instill good chew/settle habits in your pup: https://www.dogstardaily.com/files/downloads/AFTER_You_Get_Your_Puppy.pdf

It's also available in book form and is absolutely worth reading cover to cover while you're still in such an important training window: Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog - Kindle edition by Ian Dunbar. Crafts, Hobbies & Home Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Peggy prefers the tire-shaped Kong to the more traditional shape. She also prefers the pink or blue softer rubber "puppy Kongs" to the much firmer red or black.

She loves them stuffed with frozen banana, which is also helpful during teething. But you can google Kong stuffing for an abundance of ideas. Some people get very creative!

And Dunbar describes a great technique with moistened kibble and a liver treat. The short version is that you stuff the tastiest morsel into the small hole, so your pup can never actually dislodge it. And then you WOW him by popping it out with a pencil (or similar) when you return.

Peggy thinks moistened kibble is a waste of her time, but we use a version of this method with her Himalayan yak cheese chews. We stick a fresh one in her Kong, which leaves about half exposed. That way, when the chew gets short enough to be a choking hazard, she can no longer reach it and will energetically work at the Kong.

She thinks we're pretty amazing when we eventually swoop in and pop it out. Then it's straight into the microwave to become a much-prized crunchy cheese puff.
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I just saw your note that you're not able to get to a puppy class. If you want your puppy to function confidently in the world as an adult dog, you'll want to put in some extra socializing effort in the absence of a structured class and the watchful eyes of a skilled trainer. At the very least, print off a socialization checklist and start ticking at least a few items off each day, ensuring each experience is short and positive. Always positive.

You'll read all about this in that PDF I shared. Just don't wait to read it! The window for much of this closes as early as 16 weeks.

Some relevant thoughts from Dunbar, as it seems you do have a good-natured pup:

Why Socialize Apparently Friendly and Confident Puppies?

Many breeders, veterinarians and owners simply don’t see the point of early socialization and handling because the puppies are easy to handle and already appear to be confident and friendly. In fact, many young pups appear to be super-mega-confident and overly-friendly and so, why socialize sociable puppies?

Consequently, people are predictably shocked when at about five-and-a-half to eight months of age, their friendly and socialized puppy becomes shy, aloof, wary, standoffish, protective, fearful, reactive and maybe aggressive towards people.

Of course puppies are confident and friendly and easy to handle. They’re puppies! All young pups should be universally outgoing towards people. Fear and aggression do not develop until later in life. Moreover, developing anxieties and fears of the unfamiliar or scary later in life is a normal and adaptive development process.

Adolescent and adult dogs will generally accept species and individuals that they played with as puppies yet they will likely shy away from species and individuals that they did not have adequate opportunity to interact with as puppies. To prevent fear and aggression, the unfamiliar and scary of adolescence must become the familiar and commonplace of puppyhood.

The socialization process is deceptive because all puppies appear to be Mr. or Ms. Sociable at two, three and four months of age and so breeders, veterinarians and owners are unaware that anything is amiss. People are duped by their puppy’s confident and friendly demeanor, not realizing that the effects of insufficient socialization will not become apparent until later in life. But by then of course, it is pretty much too late for quick, easy and effective rehabilitation.
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Poodles want to be with their people, no getting around it. Your puppy sounds like a little boss finding his voice so soon. Confident and smart, buckle up! Buck made such pitiful sounds that my husband fell for, so he upgraded him to a tiled kitchen and hall as an ex pen. I had to retrain him to the crate later. You could tether him to you instead of confining him. That way he will gain house privileges and see what exciting or deadly boring things you are doing. Here for you. There are challenges with this MENSA breed:)
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