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Our toy is just about to hit the four month old mark and for about the last 10 days he's been barking at things he sees through the door, reflections, small noises, etc. His bark is the aggressive sounding watchdog type bark, which is new. I was told poodles make good watchdogs and that's fine, but he's barking at everything, even waking up during his windown nap at night before we put him in the crate for sleep. He hasn't barked at anything after bedtime, luckily.

I know this is probably just a natural part of his development as I've seen many changes in his behavior and the type of barks he's letting out, etc, but if this is something I need to get control of I would appreciate some advice on how. He's barking loudly now after the kids are in bed for something as little as the neighbor's car door shutting or even my spoon lightly hitting a bowl of ice cream..lol

He's a very social dog. We have him outside a lot and around other people, traffic, petsmart, etc. He's never shy with new people and he's not barking at things when we're out and about and for the most part he's not timid around anything, other than when the next door neighbor's giant lab barks at every single thing it hears from its crate in the garage. I don't really mind if he barks when someone comes to the door but the random barking from the couch is something I don't want to get out of hand. Even a way to train him to hush would be great. Any help is most appreciated!
 

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My mini is just about to turn 5 months old and I recognize exactly the same behavior. Over the past month she’s been discovering her bark and also reflections which are her favorite bark target ... I wonder after reading your post if the timing of these two developments are nature’s plan vs mere coincidence.
The reflection bark is full out “I’m a tough guy don’t mess with me” lol. At first I tried to convince her that they were nothing to worry about, but gave up. If it gets annoying I just move her to a different spot otherwise I let her bark at them for a bit. She’s gotten used to them now and has stopped barking at them, except for the reflection in her water bowl which she still sometimes paws.
The barking I don’t allow is responding to neighborhood dogs, I don’t want to encourage those “conversations”.
Another is barking at neighbors & especially the kids out playing in the street. That barking is accompanied by a furiously wagging tail because she wants so badly for me to open the gate and let her go play with them. Ain’t happening.. so she might as well quit barking lol.
The main barking she does isn’t really a bark, it’s more like a short quiet “grumpf”. It’s like a bark version of a soft mouth and I’m glad when she does it, I think it demonstrates bark control.

When she’s barking I always go see why and acknowledge the alert. I use “shush” to stop her bark when a simple “it’s ok” doesn’t work.
To teach shush one first has to teach bark on command, I did this as soon as the opportunity presented itself when she first found something to bark at. I joined in and made a game out of it, then introduced shush as part of the game. That was a while ago but luckily she still remembers it now that the real barking has commenced.
I also am in the habit of speaking to her in a whisper almost all the time (so people don’t think I’m crazy always talking to my dog hehe). So our normal mode is on quiet, i think that might have helped with her development of a soft “grumpf” where normally a dog would just bark out loud.
So far I’m very pleased with the barking aspect of her development, now if she would just stop hovering up everything in sight and jumping like a kangaroo it would be a perfect world!


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I found Turid Rugaas's little book "Barking: the sound of a language" very helpful when mine hit this stage. What worked best for us was recognising that they needed help deciding what was worth warning about and what was not, and that I had to be the one to check everything out and tell them. It was a busy few months for all of us, and we still disagree over whether I need to be told quite so vociferously every time the post lady comes up the path, or the bin men come for the garbage, or their favourite neighbour is on his way to his car and they really need to go and see him, but mostly a quick check, "They're allowed" and "Settle down" do the trick.
 

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Thank you both! Buddy is definitely going through phases. He has several voices that are pretty obvious in meaning. He does that aggressive watchdog bark and as he's calming down he does a little low woof almost as if his body is still coming down from the excitement and he's sort-of suppressing it. It's funny because he's 5lbs of terror and does that deep little woof. Sounds like what was described by the person in the first reply. I like to imitate that one for my own entertainment.

I really want to get him in some training exactly for these reasons. He's changing quickly and I don't want bad habits to develop. He's an awesome pup. He's very chill about changes most of the time. Just rolls with whatever is going on instead of panicking, etc.
 

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... When she’s barking I always go see why and acknowledge the alert. I use “shush” to stop her bark when a simple “it’s ok” doesn’t work.
To teach shush one first has to teach bark on command, I did this as soon as the opportunity presented itself when she first found something to bark at. I joined in and made a game out of it, then introduced shush as part of the game. That was a while ago but luckily she still remembers it now that the real barking has commenced.
I also am in the habit of speaking to her in a whisper almost all the time (so people don’t think I’m crazy always talking to my dog hehe). So our normal mode is on quiet, i think that might have helped with her development of a soft “grumpf” where normally a dog would just bark out loud...
Interesting; I could have written this part myself right down to the puppy age it began. She's 12 months old now and we still go thru the sshhh ritual and low barks when she hears something outside.

The thing is, when I say sshhh followed by it's okay, she runs to me. I believe this is b/c I don't yell at her or dog shame her, and she feels safe when she knows I'm displeased. She then sits rather rigidly at my feet and continues to look in the direction of whatever noise she heard, and I pet her back and say again, it's okay. This reassures her.

So the barking at outside noises is an anxiety reaction to the unknown combined with warning me there may be danger. Thus:

Dog feels safe with owner when caught doing 'wrong'
Dog's owner speaks quietly in general, including these incidents
Dog speaks (barks) quietly when its alert system is activated
Dog is reassured when owner confirms there is no danger.

This is not a behavior I want to extinguish; it could be helpful in our survival.

I fortunately don't have those other issues, except when she's riding in her carrybag in the car. I can't always cover it with a towel b/c of the summer heat and humidity, despite air conditioning. I've been timing it; she's gone from nonstop barking to 15 or 20 minutes. If we drove somewhere everyday together, I think she'd have cleared up this behavior months ago.
 

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Poodles can develop large vocabularies, so in addition to investigating and being calm and businesslike about it, I named the things. I praised for understandable alarms, used “enough” when I was sufficiently alerted and “nothing”, when I was satisfied that it was nothing. Buck is an amazing watchdog. He watches the security monitor in the kitchen and always barks when he sees a vehicle by the front gate. Humans bred dogs to bark and as Vita observed, it shouldn’t be shamed, unless it’s a endless soundtrack. With poodles, it’s better to explain than shame:)
 

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I stopped this a couple of ways. One ."Not your yard, no bark". when they are barking at something outside, When people comes in the love company, I say flyswatter, of which I cracked their butts twice over a year ago, (plastic and pink)
 

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I find that toys bark out of fear. They’re not really being watch dogs like a big dog would.

I have Beckie who’s a fear barker and she started around 6-7 months. For that reason, I find that telling them to hush and also reassuring them is the way to go.
 

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I agree about the vocabulary. To take just a few examples, mine have:
The single warning whuff - "I can hear something, did you hear it?"
The happy excitement barking - "It's Tony! He's going to his car! Please open the door now!"
The hysterical, monster-on-the-threshold barking, usually caused by the window cleaner's apparatus looming at an upstair's window, and mostly fearful Poppy rather than confident Sophy.
And there are lots of gradations in between.

The puppy stage mixed them all up, but it was mainly single spaced warning whuffs at every noise. Sophy hit the age just as the jackdaws were trying to build a nest outside my back door, and told me every time they dropped a twig. Jackdaws drop a LOT of twigs... For days I had to get up each time, look out of the glass pane in the door, and demonstrate that I had investigated and that it was nothing to worry about - it did give us plenty of opportunities to practice ignoring safe sounds, though! Eventually she learned to ignore that noise, and most of the others. My sister tells me that they rarely bark when they are alone with her in her house, so there seems to be an element of pack communication going on - another interesting area for research, perhaps.
 
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thanks all!

When he barks at the door i usually pick him up and look outside with him so he can see that I see there's nothing there. The neighbor's cat is there occasionally but he usually chills when he realizes what it is because he and the cat share space often, although the cat doesn't want to play despite buddy's best efforts..lol

I'll try some of these techniques. Maybe I can try a keyword when we walk to the door that I can use later without having to walk over there.
 

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...My sister tells me that they rarely bark when they are alone with her in her house, so there seems to be an element of pack communication going on - another interesting area for research, perhaps.
That 'pack communication' is very interesting. Also mine never barks when no one is home; if she had, I'd surely have gotten at least one complaint by now from other tenants.
 

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Pack communication, yes... I hadn’t thought of that, but now it occurs to me that my current dog Mimi will bark when I leave her in the car to go in the store but she stops as soon as I’m out of her sight. She’s super bonded to me and my housemate and follows us around wherever we go.
My last dog who was a rescue and more independent (she had been a stray) would continue barking whether I was there or not. But she had few boundaries and the whole world was her pack.
Interesting.


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Gawd I love this forum. Just this morning, Lily - who is 7.5 months now - was a barking maniac. Racing around the yard barking early when it was still dark, and I was afraid she'd wake all the neighbors.

I put her inside (while I was still outside) and she continued for at least 30 minutes. Running from room to room, barking at god-only-knows-what! I couldn't hear anything that she might be responding to. But then I don't have the best hearing.

I realized I'd better read up and figure out what's going on! I sure want to nip this in the bud.

This has helped. I'll try the method of investigating and reassuring.
 
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