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Hi again. It's been a while since I posted anything. Blaze is doing great, she's already almost 11 months and a perfect little puppy. Except for one thing. After her first heat cycle she became much more affectionate, which is great, but she also became more reactive to sounds. The elevator opening outside our appartment door, for example. After she had her spay surgery, she even began to bark at herself in the mirror. I've been trying to train her to get used to her reflection, praising her every time she doesn't bark, but I'm not sure it's working. The elevator bark is really bad, and I don't really know how to train it away, because she's not scared of the elevator, and when she can see the elevator, then she doesn't bark. It's only when we are inside and the elevator is working outside, with our front door closed. I have tried having my parents use the elevator and praise her when she doesn't bark, but she seems to know it's not the "real thing".

So, I was wondering if any of you had any advice as to how to help us both. I really love my puppy, but my parents are starting to get very annoyed. I just want to help her.

Thanks in advance! :wub:

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Oh, dear... good luck.

 

My old dog was very reactive, and what worked for some of his triggers (dogs passing us, for example) was giving him an alternative command and then rewarding. When we saw a big dog coming, I would walk him off the path and have him lie down, then treat after the dogs passed. Within a few months, he started taking himself off the path when we saw other dogs, and lying down without being told to... it seemed like he believed that was a protective behavior that made dogs passing safe.

 

Can you get her in a position to listen to you in a command before the elevator door opens? Is there some noise that indicates to you that it's about to happen? Maybe that will give you the lead time to set her up for success.

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Don't know if this will work in your circumstance or not, as I live in a very different kind of place, I am out in the desert in a house. I want my dogs to bark when something or someone is coming because they are my first alert system, but I need for them to stop when I ask them to.

 

My method was to get up from what I am doing when they bark (no matter what) and go to the door or window and look out with them, thank them for letting me know, and then say "that'll do" and steer them away from the door or window. Enough repetitions of this, and they were willing to stop barking if I said "that'll do" even if I don't get u p. Still, I often do get up to go see what it is, to let them know I value their input.

 

You could try some variation on that. In other words, not try to keep your dog from barking entirely, but rather allow a bark or two and then ask her to stop. I think that's much easier and more effective than trying to train a dog not to bark at all at a certain stimulus.

 

A more focused method which might work better for you in your circumstances is the "look at that" game in the book Control Unleashed, which protocol you can find online. Or buy the book, it's a good one.

 

I have a friend who had three shelties, dogs who are known to be barky and these dogs were serious barkers. At anything at all. She used the "look at that" training and could call them off a barkfest in two seconds just by saying those words.

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Something very similar to this works for my barker (Hannah) as well:

 

My method was to get up from what I am doing when they bark (no matter what) and go to the door or window and look out with them, thank them for letting me know, and then say "that'll do" and steer them away from the door or window. Enough repetitions of this, and they were willing to stop barking if I said "that'll do" even if I don't get u p. Still, I often do get up to go see what it is, to let them know I value their input.

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This also worked with my dog. I check, say "It's okay" and she stops. This has transferred to a 'I've got it/all is well/relax' type cue out of the house, too.

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Thank you for all your responses! The tricky thing with the elevator is that there's no warning sign before it's actually used. I have tried trying to get her to focus on me and treat her for that (focusing on me stops the barking), but sometimes she is so transfixed it's like she sees right through me and I don't even exist. I will definitely be trying the "that'll do" trick, and let you know if it works. I have the control unleashed book and am re-reading it for the third time. It's amazing, but having a dog as distractable as mine is sometimes a struggle. Lately she has become much more "hyper" (getting her zoomies when she plays with her toys) and am trying to find ways to help her calm down and relax (suggestions would be greatly appreciated). I am doing more mat work, and I'm also trying to teach her to "take a breath", but it's harder than it seems when you read it. I think her sudden barking is a part of being over her threshold all the time. It is also true that after her spay surgery we have stopped running (it's been a week now) and her physical exercise has been restricted. Hopefully now when I can start running with her again, some of that excess energy can be burnt off.

Thanks again for all your help!

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Oh, I forgot to mention, have any of you had any success with massaging your dogs? I have heard it's a great way to calm them down. I have tried some Ttouch with her, but she won't have any of it. She thinks it's a game and starts panting and opening her mouth, turning on her belly and giving small, playful yelps, which is kind of not the point. Do any of you massage your dogs? And have you seen any changes in behaviour?

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Have you tried Relaxation Protocol? It's long, it takes time, but it's free, available online in lots of places, and it is amazingly good for teaching dogs that sometimes they need to CHILL OUT.

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I massage my dog. I don't follow any particular protocol, just start at her head with little circles and stroking and work my way down her body. Rubbing around her ears, chest, and belly really relaxes her. Her back, butt, and legs are a bit hit or miss--I like to spend some time on them to relax her muscles and keep her comfortable being handled all over, but she can be more sensitive about them. I only give her paws and tail the most cursory of touches. She likes it and if I do a good job she looks like she's melting into the floor about halfway through. Sometimes she dozes off. If she's in a fidgety mood to start with, I do long strokes down her side until she settles into it.

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