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Today is trash day again, which means wheelie bins. Galen has been much better about walking past them since the day of the Great Wheelie Bin Hunt. Today, however, one of my neighbors discarded an elaborate children's car seat, the kind that has a bunch of spinning toys attached. The apparatus was left leaning against the wheelie bin.

Galen walked past without much interest. Then he glanced over his shoulder at it. A plastic monkey was staring back at him from the car seat. Galen lost his mind. He started frantically barking to alert me that something was very wrong. Sigh. I'm sure the neighbors loved that racket at 6:30 in the morning.

I told him we should Go Check It Out. We carefully crept up on it, alert for any signs of movement. Galen sniffed the monkey, then the other spinning toys, then the seat itself. He concluded the thing was not the danger he had first believed, but it was still in Very Poor Taste. We continued on our walk, suspiciously glaring at any other wheelie bins in case they might be hiding plastic monkeys too.
 

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That is so cute! Be careful or you'll have to take it home!
Sorry about potentially stealing your thread, but this ties right in with an issue I've come across. When I bring my trash bin to the curb, Elroy barks at the (plastic/noisy) wheels as I go. If I stop, he stops. If I can manage to offer a treat while we're still moving (said bin is HEAVY!), he's quiet, but immediately after he gets the treat, he's back to barking AT the plastic wheels. He doesn't do this with my lawn cart which has regular pneumatic tires (that don't make noise). How can I get him to not bark at the wheels as I go? He did the same thing when I used a moving "truck" (noisy hard wheels) to move my largest planters to their display positions. Any training tips for this?
 

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Well I just wouldn't take my dogs on the trip with the garbage can for the time being. Multi tasking is over rated. I would work on not reacting to noisy wheel on its own so you can really train for being nice.
 

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Oh yes those noisy monsters. Yet they emit such enticing odors.
 

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When I bring my trash bin to the curb, Elroy barks at the (plastic/noisy) wheels as I go. Any training tips for this?
Well I tried a shaker bottle with pennies in it. When he barked at the wheels, I shook it making lots of noise. After 3-4 times, he got the picture and stopped barking! It worked!
I'll keep this tool front and center.
 

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Well I tried a shaker bottle with pennies in it. When he barked at the wheels, I shook it making lots of noise. After 3-4 times, he got the picture and stopped barking! It worked!
I'll keep this tool front and center.
Right now you have a very malleable, social puppy on your hands. Be cautious about doing anything that might manifest as fear once he reaches adolescence and beyond.

Poodles learn very quickly when you turn off the fun and/or redirect attention. Yes, it takes patience and consistency, but it’s well worth the investment. You also need to read them carefully. Are they barking out of excitement or anxiety? If it’s the latter, letting your puppy explore the object with you is super helpful, as is always ending on a good note so Elroy doesn’t go over threshold.
 

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Right now you have a very malleable, social puppy on your hands. Be cautious about doing anything that might manifest as fear once he reaches adolescence and beyond.

Poodles learn very quickly when you turn off the fun and/or redirect attention. Yes, it takes patience and consistency, but it’s well worth the investment. You also need to read them carefully. Are they barking out of excitement or anxiety? If it’s the latter, letting your puppy explore the object with you is super helpful, as is always ending on a good note so Elroy doesn’t go over threshold.
He is definitely barking out of excitement, not anxiety. I'm paying close attention and am aware that this shaker bottle is a negative enforcement. I don't intend to use it for very many things as I don't want him to become fearful during training. The bottle/pennies shaking got his attn, but it didn't scare him. He kept following closely as always, except no barking now. Thanks fir for the reminder!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
He is definitely barking out of excitement, not anxiety. I'm paying close attention and am aware that this shaker bottle is a negative enforcement. I don't intend to use it for very many things as I don't want him to become fearful during training. The bottle/pennies shaking got his attn, but it didn't scare him. He kept following closely as always, except no barking now. Thanks fir for the reminder!
As a general rule, I find it easier to ask an animal to DO something instead of asking the animal NOT to do something. When they are doing something you don't like, ask them to do something else that is incompatible. I used to get Pogo to stop barking by asking him to hold a tennis ball. He would still try to bark, but the mmmfp mmmfp sound was a lot less annoying than ROWF ROWF ROWF. Elroy is still too young to have tricks you can rely on, but he's old enough to be learning sit and touch already
 

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I also would not punish a dog for reacting to something of which it is afraid. Save your shaker can for something along the lines of counter surfing. For the loud garbage bin I would let him hear and see it with a little distance and reward your pup for not reacting to it. You may need two people to do this, one rolls the can around and the other is well armed with treats to reward watching without barking.
 

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I wonder if you could start accustoming him to it by taking the garbage can into your backyard and using it to do spring cleanup while Elroy watches. Rake out the beds, walk back and forth putting stuff in the bin, occasionally move the bin a few feet to get closer to the next pile, and so forth. Elroy would probably find the moving rake and the earthy smelling debris piles more intriguing than the non-moving bin. The occasional necessary wheel rumble would stop almost immediately and be replaced by a much more interesting activity involving leaves and a moving human.
 

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I appreciate the advice. I just don't want him barking at, and biting at the wheels, of the various things I use in the yard (somewhat) regularly. I don't have another person available to help me train at home, so I will need to use methods I can do with just me and Elroy. I use the following item in my landscape regularly: Lawn cart, garbage bin, recycle bin, lawnmower, and snowblower. I use these other tools on occasion: Wheelbarrow, utility trailer, and refrigerator dolly. My sisters dog (4 y/o) barks at everything that has wheels and moves if it's in the yard. This is really an unacceptable condition and I'd like to nip it in the bud. I was able to tow the empty garbage bin around with one hand and treat (while on the move) with the other and this seems to take his attention off of the bin temporarily. Will continuing this method train him to not bark at (the specific) things with wheels?
 

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Since this training would be outside and require some distance maybe you could find a neighbor child (like teen) who you could pay to drag the can around for some bucks. cowpony's suggestions are great too and you should do those activities. But I would love to see you have a chance to actively teach that not barking will be praised and otherwise rewarded.
 
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Lily and Click are really the best authorities, but my experience is "it depends." Sometimes the dog is barking out of nervousness. Sometimes the dog is barking out of playfulness and over-excitement.

Complicating matters, now is around the time when puppies tend to have a fear period. Stuff that's no big deal at a normal time becomes a permanent trigger if mishandled during a fear period. Two of our dogs were permanently frightened by real estate signs, of all things, because we encountered a flappy banging sign while walking on a windy day. Every single time we walked past a House For Sale sign afterwards they would give it the stink eye, circle wide, and perhaps even bark at it.

I think a danger in trying to desensitize a dog during a fear period is you, by paying inordinate attention to something mundane like a real estate sign, may inadvertently confirm it is indeed A Big Deal. This is the logic behind my suggestion you take the bin out and do yardwork. Elroy will see your attention is focused on the leaves and yard debris. He will also see you interacting with the bin in a completely natural manner, paying it only as much attention as your task requires. You can reinforce the message that the bin is no big deal by doing other playful things in its presence, like playing tug with a stick or a rope toy.
 

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It was very important to me that Annie be non-reactive to bicycles. Unfortunately, very few bicycles were to be found in my neighbourhood and never at convenient times for puppy training.

I tied her to the fence by her leash and got out my bike, rolling it around far enough she wasnt reacting to it. I set it down, walked back to her, praised. Then returned, rolled it a bit closer, hopped on and rode a bit. Hopped off, rolled over, encouraged her to sniff at it/investigate. Eventually, I rolled it down the street, with the bike on one side, Annie on the other.

Personally, if I had a dog attacking the wheels of a bin/yard cart, I would tie the dog to the fence, do my work with the puppy watching, and then work on desensitizing later. Particularly with puppies what is super exciting one week is normal the next so long as they don't get to practice the game.

Sometimes barking is fear, sometimes excitement, but what you want to get is a reaction of boredom. New things are normal, and not worth remarking on.

I have known a few dogs who, later in life (8 months, 10months) start reacting aggressively to things they were previously punished for reacting to with excitement.

At one point a previous puppy was terrified of trucks with ladders. Trucks were fine, ladders were fine, but put the two together? Alarm condition exists. Over maybe 20 min, my mom and I took turns walking nearer and nearer the truck with the puppy on leash keeping him at a distance he felt 'safe'. By the end, he went up, sniffed the tires, confirmed it was a truck, and trotted away, ignoring the truck for the next week (tradesperson working on the house).
 

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Particularly with puppies what is super exciting one week is normal the next so long as they don't get to practice the game.
This! And that’s also why you don’t want to get over-zealous with corrections. Turns little things into big things. I find this to be especially true with poodles. Generally speaking—and I’m not sure if this will really make sense—I think it’s best to drain the energy from the situation rather than adding more.
 

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I'll be working on it. I'll use positive reinforcement methods and update with progress. I'll see if I can find someone to help too. Thanks for all the advice!
 
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