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Hi!
My almost 7 month old puppy is very vigilant and bold, which I love. Over the past few months he has started barking when he hears people walk by the apartment, sees new cars outside, or strangers he doesn't like the look of (and the occasional inanimate object- like a flag). He only barks with that protective barking when we are in "our territory" meaning the apartment or the front yard- so for example, he never barks at people on walks or out and about- only when he hears voices or noises outside our door.
I do love that he is protective as it makes me feel safe and keeps me alerted to people approaching- but I am at a loss for how to settle him down and make him stop barking after he gets started. He hasn't ever shown any aggression and loves all other dogs. He doesn't usually love random people, but he is just disinterested- not aggressive.

Any tips for how to train him to settle down and just alert me with a bark or two but not keep going on and on?
Its not a crazy amount but I am sure it is really annoying to my neighbors, especially when it is late at night or at any hours, whenever he hears a noise.
I also want to make sure that this won't turn into a bad habit or develop into aggression. I have never had a dog that showed any protective instincts at all so this is new territory for me.

Thanks!
 

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I think it is common for dogs around that age to decide that they are now responsible for warning the pack, while still lacking the experience to know what is and is not worth alerting to. I used the methods described in Turid Rugaas' little book "Barking: the sound of a language" - in essence getting up, placing myself between the dog and whatever it is facing towards the "danger", checking, and thanking the dog for telling me while making it clear there was nothing to worry about. It is slow but sure - you don't want to suppress he barking altogether in case one day the warning is important, but you do need to be able to settle the dog back down again quickly, and they are far more likely to settle if they know you have paid attention to the alert. I would also let your neighbours know that you are working on it - they will probably be sympathetic if they know you are committed to training quieter behaviour.
 

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At seven months, your puppy is becoming aware of a larger world, much like a young teenage human. Part of learning about our world is distinguishing between what is a threat, and what is not. For a while, young Noelle thought everything was a threat, and barked way too much. The way I solved the same problem was by listening to FJM, because FJM is smart. FJM helped me understand that Noelle was trying to figure out threat/not threat.
"New person, threat?"
I went to check. "That's a delivery man. Look, he has a pizza." Then I calmly went into another room and invited Noelle to follow me. The calmer I was, the less amped up she got.

What did not work was getting upset with Noelle for barking, because that definitely made it worse. Like your pup, Noelle didn't bark on walks, just on her territory. She still barks on her territory. She will always bark on her territory. My job is to evaluate what she is barking at, acknowledge how I feel about it, and lead her calmly away if it is nothing. Gradually, Noelle learned most things aren't threatening. Although, she is very successful at barking through the window at strange dogs on the sidewalk. Every time she barks at a strange dog, the dog and handler leave. It works every time.

I also taught Noelle, "Tone it!" Which means stop barking, or at least bark quieter. I used YouTube barking dog videos. There are a lot of them to choose from. I picked a video that made Noelle bark. This let me control the trigger with the pause button. Turn on video, wait for Noelle to bark, turn off the sound, wait for the silence, "Tone it." treat. Slowly, I increased the volume of the barking on the video, and the duration. She learned, "Tone it," means to stop barking.

A few nights ago, I heard an unfamiliar noise in the middle of the night. Noelle stood on my bed, clearly protecting me, barking and snarling. She faced the window and really let loose. She was not kidding around. And she stayed like that for a lot longer than I expected. Was someone trying to break in? Maybe. It made me glad that I spend all that time with young Noelle acknowledging her barking as a language. Sometimes, you really do want your dog to bark.
 

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I think it is common for dogs around that age to decide that they are now responsible for warning the pack, while still lacking the experience to know what is and is not worth alerting to. I used the methods described in Turid Rugaas' little book "Barking: the sound of a language" - in essence getting up, placing myself between the dog and whatever it is facing towards the "danger", checking, and thanking the dog for telling me while making it clear there was nothing to worry about. It is slow but sure - you don't want to suppress he barking altogether in case one day the warning is important, but you do need to be able to settle the dog back down again quickly, and they are far more likely to settle if they know you have paid attention to the alert. I would also let your neighbours know that you are working on it - they will probably be sympathetic if they know you are committed to training quieter behaviour.
Thank you! This is very helpful. I definitely like approaching from this angle and that Rory is communicating with me. I have tried to acknowledge what he has barked at in the past, but started physically getting in front of him to look last night, and I already think it is working! I will check out the book as well. Thanks!
 

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At seven months, your puppy is becoming aware of a larger world, much like a young teenage human. Part of learning about our world is distinguishing between what is a threat, and what is not. For a while, young Noelle thought everything was a threat, and barked way too much. The way I solved the same problem was by listening to FJM, because FJM is smart. FJM helped me understand that Noelle was trying to figure out threat/not threat.
"New person, threat?"
I went to check. "That's a delivery man. Look, he has a pizza." Then I calmly went into another room and invited Noelle to follow me. The calmer I was, the less amped up she got.

What did not work was getting upset with Noelle for barking, because that definitely made it worse. Like your pup, Noelle didn't bark on walks, just on her territory. She still barks on her territory. She will always bark on her territory. My job is to evaluate what she is barking at, acknowledge how I feel about it, and lead her calmly away if it is nothing. Gradually, Noelle learned most things aren't threatening. Although, she is very successful at barking through the window at strange dogs on the sidewalk. Every time she barks at a strange dog, the dog and handler leave. It works every time.

I also taught Noelle, "Tone it!" Which means stop barking, or at least bark quieter. I used YouTube barking dog videos. There are a lot of them to choose from. I picked a video that made Noelle bark. This let me control the trigger with the pause button. Turn on video, wait for Noelle to bark, turn off the sound, wait for the silence, "Tone it." treat. Slowly, I increased the volume of the barking on the video, and the duration. She learned, "Tone it," means to stop barking.

A few nights ago, I heard an unfamiliar noise in the middle of the night. Noelle stood on my bed, clearly protecting me, barking and snarling. She faced the window and really let loose. She was not kidding around. And she stayed like that for a lot longer than I expected. Was someone trying to break in? Maybe. It made me glad that I spend all that time with young Noelle acknowledging her barking as a language. Sometimes, you really do want your dog to bark.
Thank you for your response! This is super helpful. I have had so many people suggest really harsh ways of toning down the barking and I was against all of them- but I love the approach you are describing. He is just doing his duty of trying to protect me and figure out the world, so I want to support him and help him control it! I will also try the "tone it" command. Thank you!!
 

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Aw, I LOVE this thread.

The barkiest dogs often seem to be the ones with the owners who shout the loudest. This is definitely not a coincidence—

Ha! As I was typing that, sitting out in the sun on our back deck, two teenagers walked by the gate and Peggy gave a rumble that usually precedes a bark. I stood up to look, said "All good. They're just out for a walk." She looked at me, looked back at them, and gave a small woof with her mouth closed. I responded with a sweet "Thank you!" and it was straight back to relaxing in the sun.

If I'd not respected and acknowledged her worried rrrrrrrr at the start, she'd likely have launched into hysterics like my last girl did. Then I'd maybe have shouted NO, which would have had zero effect on anything but my blood pressure.

Now I do notice she's watching the gate a little more closely now, waiting for someone else to appear. So I'll go distract her with some play.

One thing we never let Peggy do is obsess.

Edit: No play necessary. Here she is now. :)

465772


How do I know she's fully relaxed again? She's turned away from the gate and her nose is wiggling as she sniffs the air. When Peggy's eyes and ears are in charge, that's when it's time to redirect her attention.
 

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Aw, I LOVE this thread.

The barkiest dogs often seem to be the ones with the owners who shout the loudest. This is definitely not a coincidence—

Ha! As I was typing that, sitting out in the sun on our back deck, two teenagers walked by the gate and Peggy gave a rumble that usually precedes a bark. I stood up to look, said "All good. They're just out for a walk." She looked at me, looked back at them, and gave a small woof with her mouth closed. I responded with a sweet "Thank you!" and it was straight back to relaxing in the sun.

If I'd not respected and acknowledged her worried rrrrrrrr at the start, she'd likely have launched into hysterics like my last girl did. Then I'd maybe have shouted NO, which would have had zero effect on anything but my blood pressure.

Now I do notice she's watching the gate a little more closely now, waiting for someone else to appear. So I'll go distract her with some play.

One thing we never let Peggy do is obsess.

Edit: No play necessary. Here she is now. :)

View attachment 465772

How do I know she's fully relaxed again? She's turned away from the gate and her nose is wiggling as she sniffs the air. When Peggy's eyes and ears are in charge, that's when it's time to redirect her attention.
Thanks! Its great to hear a real-time story of how you practically do it!
I don't ever raise my voice to Rory but I think I was being too passive by mostly ignoring his barking or trying to calm him down by talking instead of taking action and making sure to physically check out what he was barking at.

Peggy is so cute!
 

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Thanks! Its great to hear a real-time story of how you practically do it!
I don't ever raise my voice to Rory but I think I was being too passive by mostly ignoring his barking or trying to calm him down by talking instead of taking action and making sure to physically check out what he was barking at.

Peggy is so cute!
Isn't it such a neat technique? I learned it here, too.

I'm sometimes tempted to just stay quiet and let her bark it out, but I realize now that makes her think it's her job to protect us because the humans are clearly oblivious. I need her to know I've got the situation under control.

And Peggy says thank you. :)

She had an extra barky morning, alerting me to every reflection in every shiny surface. 🙄 But I think that's because I woke her up hours before I usually do, and she was still half asleep.

I've definitely noticed she's most on edge when over-tired. (Very different from the good kind of tired that comes with physical activity or training.)
 
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