Excessive Barking

Posted by lkmoorthi
Mar 16, 2010

I have a male DOB now 9 months old. He is very energetic and is going through obedience training. He communicates with his different types of barking for going to toilet, or wanting us to come and play with him, or his sharp deep bark when any stranger or any animals come near the gate.

He barks his head off when some people (guests or relatives) come; not with all people, even though they might be coming for the first time. We try to take him away for sometime (time-out zone), try to distract him, or even tried ignoring by closing the door. All this will not stop him from barking non stop till the person leaves the house.

He gets really tiered after this barking sessions and we get worried. Can anyone help me or suggest what I should do?

thanks in advance
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Mar 17, 2010
Hi there

The most important thing to remember when dealing with problem barking is never to reward barking. It is good that you are ignoring him when he barks as he is trying to get attention and he will realize that barking doesn't work. You should do this all the time, instead of resorting to trying to distract him sometimes. The moment he is quiet, say 'Quiet' to him and then give him lots of attention and a treat. This gives him something to strive towards, so that he knows what you want as well as what is considered bad behavior.
Making a big fuss of him when he is quiet is vital, but to ensure maximum efficacy you must not generally give him attention whenever he asks for it. Instead, he has to learn to work for it, for example, only playing with him after he has obeyed a command. This will make your attention all the more valuable and worthwhile in his eyes. Therefore, make sure you don’t respond to him at all when he is barking to get you to play with him.

You are right to take him by the collar and lead him away to a 'time-out zone' if he starts barking at your visitors. Don't speak to him or make eye contact when taking him away, so that he is getting absolutely no attention from anyone at all. This place should be quiet and free of distractions, away from other people and dogs so that he can be left completely alone. Leave him there until he calms down and then make him obey a command, such as 'sit-stay', before releasing him from the 'time-out zone'. If you leave him there long enough, he will eventually stop barking as he will see it is getting him nowhere. Although it may be quite hard not to give into him the first few times, you will find that he barks for shorter and shorter times as long as you persist and do not let him leave until he stops barking. If he misbehaves again, do exactly the same. He will soon learn that that is not the way to get your attention, in fact it will lead to complete isolation instead, which is not what he wants. He may be quite exhausted after the initial few times when he is constantly barking, but he will soon learn that it is simply a waste of energy as you are going to ignore him until he is quiet, so you need not worry about him getting tired. However, if you find that he is getting quite tired or short of breath during the day just after gentle exercise, it would be a good idea to take him to the vet to get a general check up to ensure that all is well.

Do let him have a few barks, as moderation is the key. More importantly is that he does not bark excessively and is quiet when you tell him to be. If he continues to bark, as a last resort you could try a citronella collar, which emits a powerful smell when the dog barks, which they find extremely unpleasant. The problem with these collars is that they will address the barking but do nothing to treat the cause of it. All other methods should be tried first before resorting to them.

It is also possible that your dog may be barking sometimes because he is bored. You can rectify this by taking him out for a walk every day if possible and giving him chews. Toys are also a good idea, but make sure he doesn't get over-possessive over any of them. You may want to keep changing them to stop this from happening as well as keeping him interested. Another idea is hiding his meals or treats inside a 'kong' so that he has to work hard for his food, which will keep him occupied for some time. Take time out each day to spend with him and include some obedience training too if possible, as this will not only keep him attentive to you and give you some quality time together, but it will also result in a more obedient dog!

It is a good idea to have your dog neutered, if this has not been done so already, as this will lower his testosterone levels, which should make him less highly strung and more relaxed in general.

You may find that it will help your training immensely iif you train your dog using the alpha dog principles as well. He is entering the pubertal stage at the moment, so he will probably start to challenge your authority and position as leader of the pack. There are a few things that you can incorporate into your daily routine to reinforce to him that you are the alpha dog. These include insisting that you walk ahead of him through doorways and when walking on the leash, and feeding him after you have finished your own meal. Before you pat him or play with him, give him a command, such as 'sit-stay' so that he will see that your attention is a reward for good behavior. This will act as an incentive for the future. If you are playing a game with him, make sure it is you that chooses the toy and when you decide that you have had enough, take the toy away with you so that he realizes that it is you that controls playtime. When you first come home, you should greet the rest of the household first before saying hello to him, which will help him realize his place in the hierarchy. All these things can be incorporated relatively easily into your normal daily routine, although it will require some patience and perseverance from you.

I hope this helps and all the best with the training!
Posted by lkmoorthi
Mar 17, 2010

Thanks for the advice. I will try out your recommendations and post my observations.

As for giving him a chew or a toy to keep him occupied or away from boredom, what should be the appropriate time I should do this; since I would not know when people drop in to my home. Once people come in, he sometimes, starts this barking, not always! If I move him to his time-out place, he still keeps barking. If I give a toy or a chew when he starts this barking, I don't know if he might make that a habit.

On the neutering part - he has only one testicle dropped till now. Should I wait for some more months to see if the other descends? Is this common in pure-breed Dobermans?

On the alpha dog part -- we are following the Secrets to Dog training materials. It has really helped us to drive some hard facts into his head! He no longer jumps up or paws us. He gets into his cage when we tell him without any fuss. Earlier we had to force him into his cage by the collar. Thanks to the wonderful training materials.

Posted by kjd
Mar 17, 2010
The chew or toy is not to keep him occupied or away from boredom. It is to take his attention away from the visitor when she is about to leave. The idea is to have him busy with it as she walks away. This treat would never be given to him at any other time. Preferably, she would toss it to him or give it to him just before she stands to leave. This is at the end of the visit, not the beginning.

Your vet can tell you the appropriate time for neutering. He/she can also tell you whether the undescended testicle is a problem.

It is good to hear you can get him to do what you want without force. You want to build a bond of trust. You also want the crate to be a good thing, not a punishment.

Posted by KOPsRobyn
Mar 25, 2010
Hi there

I hope all the training is going well so far.

With regards to the chew toy, you shouldn't give it to him when he starts barking because he will then think that you are rewarding him and so be encouraged to bark more. Instead, it is more of a distraction for when you are away, just to keep him occupied so that he doesn't get bored.

It's great that you are taking him to the time-out zone when he starts to bark inappropriately. Don't worry if he continues to bark for a while initially, because he is so used to you coming to see him or let him out when he barks that he may persist for some time. However, if you are strict and persist with ignoring him completely until he stops, you will find that he will give up soon. It is vital that you don't give in to him though, otherwise he will never learn.

As he is almost an adult, you would have expected for both his testes to have descended. If they still have not yet appeared, it would be a good idea for you to have your vet check it out. This is because dogs that are cryptorchids, which are those that have one undescended testes, are at a much higher chance of developing problems because of this in the future.

Hope this has helped!