barking collie

Posted by dory
Mar 2, 2008
I have a 3yr old male collie. Only problem is barking. Barks at us in the house for attention. Also barks at other dogs and people when we take him for a walk, although he loves other dogs. I do take him to the dog park and he gets along with all dogs. He is not aggressive. Has never growled. Usually does not bark at dog park. Also, he gets excited when my young nephews come to visit. Barks alot. Does not bite, but does try to herd them. If they run in the house he chases them. We do not have small children at home. I've tried a squirt gun, and shaking a pop can with coins inside. I'm sure he is an alpha dog. Please help. He is otherwise a very smart, loyal companion.
Posted by elmariachino
Mar 3, 2008
Hello Dory,
I think you can start by not rewarding the barking of your dog.
When the dog barks, unless it's an alarm bark, he is communicating something to you (attention, hunger, wants to play,...). The best thing to do is to ignore the dog, so he understands that his barking is not efficient (no water squirt, no can with coins, no shouting, no reaction whatsoever).
And when the dog stops barking, or does not bark in situations wher he used to bark, praise him generously.
Though it takes a couple of weeks to start giving effects, this is my favorite method.
You can use as well negative punishment instead of ignoring the dog, put him a muzzle for 5 minutes or put him in a seperate room until he stops barking.
Good luck.
Posted by Blue
Mar 3, 2008
Hi Dory,

Barking is often a lead into aggression, it can happen in a case like this when a dog is feeling insecure and is trying to control the situation (hence the herding/barking of children - children are extremely unpredictable to dogs).

Elmariachino is correct in saying that should the dog be ignored when barking for things such as attention, food or play. I will go into this further in this reply.

As always the first advice for a dominant/aggressive dog is to ensure you and your family members have read and understand the techniques in the bonus book "Secrets to becoming the Alpha Dog". These are great techniques for maintaining or establishing your position at the head of the household. No matter what the problem is, all dogs need to know where the stand in the house for both yours and their peace and comfort.

Here are some ways to reinforce your position, any children in the family should also be involved in these steps:

1) If you come across your dog while he is sleeping or lying on the floor then you can reinforce your position as alpha dog by making him move away from where you want to go, no the other way around.

2) Make sure that you always go through doorways first. Try reinforcing your position as alpha dog is to walk your dog around the house on the leash, making your dog wait while you walk through doorways first.

3) At mealtimes make sure that your dog or dogs eat after all of the humans have.

4) When your dog wants to go outside for a walk, make it sit and wait until you are ready to go.

I've also found it extremely effective, if the dog is not allowed on couches, beds or any furniture that humans use. Our dog is also not allowed to be near the dining table during dinners, she usually sleeps on her bed or in an adjoining room where she can see us.

With the people as alpha in the household, your dog should only obtain things such as food, play and attention when you decide, and not one second before. Ignore your dog when he is actively seeking to engage you in any one of these things. Reward your dog's good behaviour by giving him food, attention or play when he is calm and relaxed (sleeping/seated at your feet, just calm!).

As for barking at other dogs, and at children, your dog should be reprimanded for this behaviour every time. Your dog should always be reprimanded for bad behaviour especially aggressive bad behaviour. DO NOT yell, as this has no effect on a dominant dog. Growl instead, use a guttural growl like " AAHHH!" instead of "No!", as this makes a sharper sound then "No" (If done correctly it may hurt your throat a little).

At first you may need to have the dog on a leash for this training. While at the park, have him on a leash (it can be a long leash if you want) as soon as he even looks like he's getting too excited (about to bark) or at the first yip, reprimand him and give a jerk on the leash (ideally it would be a jerk that pulled him sideways a little off his feet - this is easier practiced with short leash first - it doesn't have to be violent, just firm). If he doesn't behave after the first reprimand, reel him in and have him sit with you for a bit - do not use recall for this reprimand, or you will have a dog hesitant to come to you. Release him again after about 1-2 minutes, if he becomes aggressive again, do the same procedure over again. If, after a third time, he continues to misbehave, reprimand, bring him in and leave the park. While you are reprimanding him - should you see some good play behaviour without the barking, reward him with praise (even from a distance) he will hear you and start differentiating between good behaviour that he can play longer, and bad behaviour that ends the play fun!

With your visiting nephews, you should also try some similar on the leash training - you can attach a leash when they come to visit, and he can be on a loose leash (trailing leash) in the house. AS soon as the barking starts, you are more able to grab the leash and reprimand him right away - the same as at the park. 3rd time he's out - put him in a separate room to chill out and then try again later. The important thing is not to remove him from the situation immediately - he has to know what is wrong and what is right, if you remove him as soon as the behaviour occurs, he will just become frustrated that his fun is ending for no reason and may actually become worse.

It is vital that you get your dog become obedient to you and the children as soon as possible, as his barking towards children is can become more aggressive and turn to nipping. To encourage good behaviour, perform one on one basic obedience with him every day - and when the children are over, have them make him do some tricks too - this is good for encouraging obedience while the children are around, and teaches the children how to ask him to do things such as sit, when they need him to be calm.

All interactions between your dog and children should be supervised, I'm sure you already do that as a parental instinct!

It is also best if the visiting children don't encourage the dog to chase them at all. Play sessions should only be things like throwing balls for him, frisbees etc. Games where your dog has no opportunity to become aggressive/herding (no tug of war at all). Dogs will chase things that run and scream, it is in their genetics and it is not good to have the children encourage it, even though it's fun!

The children should also practice taking your dog on walks for the next few visits (with an adult if they are not strong enough to control him). Walks should be at a good heel and never pulling. Practicing walks where the children are in control will expel some of his energy, and also practice alpha position and techniques between dog and children.

Any biting or mouthing behaviour should be reprimanded by the children and adults as soon as it occurs (if it occurs) and your dog given a time out ignored completely for a period of time.

Your dogs behaviour should immediately start to improve upon properly structuring his environment for positive reinforcement for good behaviour and reprimands or no attention for bad behaviour. The key is rewarding the good behaviour (quiet calm gentle) and reprimand/ignore the bad behaviour (barking/chasing/herding).

One more suggestion - before the children come over, take the dog for a vigorous 15min run, or 30-40 minute walk, to burn off excess energy so he is less excitable and energetic while the children are around.

Hope this helps!
If you have any questions feel free to ask, we'll help where we can,
Posted by 1whisper
Mar 5, 2008
Hi there, the barking is a real pest, I too have a bit of a barker (A Husky/Collie cross). she is obsessed with birds and barks all the time or at least if she's not chasing them. I am working harder at the alpha dog thing as advised withe the bird obsession but it does not seem to work. She knows shes not aloud to do it because when I open the door to tell her off she runs back before I even get a word out. I hope you get you dogs barking under control, cause ours is sending me barking mad.:mad:

Good luck
Posted by dory
Mar 6, 2008
Thanks to everyone for their advice. I've started working on the "alpha dog" training with my collie Sunny. He has quickly caught on to sit, stay and my walking in and out in front of him. He's walking better on leash also. Now we're working on the barking. He's doing very well with our ignoring the barking in the house. When my husband or I return home, we ignore him till he settles down and the barking is much less. We have only taken outdoor walks a few times because our Chicago weather where we have been approached by people. He did bark, but responded better to my tugging at his leash, etc. Again, thanks to all. Dory
Posted by MaryAlyce-Minor
Apr 1, 2013
I have a six year old Blue Merle Collie. He is wonderful, but his barking is causing a real problem in our home. My husband wears hearing aids, and the barking disturbs him more than anything. I purchased this program just to see if it will help with Beau's barking at every unusual sound.
Any specific instructions you might give? We have tried ignoring him, yelling doesn't work, and he is often in another room, so correcting him at the moment of barking is often impossible. We are at the point of considering finding another home for Beau, which would break my heart.
Posted by Preethi KOP
Apr 1, 2013
Hi Mary,

I am sorry to hear about your problem. This is quite a common occurance, especially with the breed in question. Has your dog been through any obedience training? What commands does he know?

You could try putting a muzzle on every time he barks,followed by putting him in a quiet room to let him calm down. He should quickly begin associating his barking with a negative outcome. Once he settles down you could let him out, but if he begins barking again be sure to send in right back into the said room. Your actions must be immediate for him to make the association. Be calm, firm and assertive in your actions. You could consider getting a professional to help with some obedience lessons if he hasn't had any before.

I really hope this helps keep your dog with you. Please feel free to write back and let me know how it is going.

I wish you the best!

Posted by MaryAlyce-Minor
Apr 2, 2013
Thank you Preethi -- Beau has had basic and advanced obedience training. As to the barking, he is mostly in the house when he barks. It is usually one very loud bark, which brings us out of our seats and causes my husband great distress. Beau does not continue to bark unless he see someone near or on our property, or he needs to go out. Then, if I am around, I can usually correct him and he stops. However, I work most days teaching piano, and Beau is home with my husband. Beau doesn't respond well to my husband, since his first owner (a man who should never have had a dog) beat him. Because of his prior treatment, I am reluctant to use a muzzle.

Strange as it seems, last night when I came home from work, my husband reported that Beau had been very quiet during the day, and even allowed my husband to take him out twice for a little exercise. I guess Beau must have realized just how close we are to finding a new home for him.

Again -- thanks for your very valuable comments.
Posted by Preethi KOP
Apr 8, 2013
Hi again Mary,

I can tell that you are a very caring person from your response. It is good that you all rescued Beau from the not-so-nice man. I really hope that Beau continues on this good streak. Feel free to write again if things get worrisome.

All the very best,