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How to deal with 'alert barking'

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I have a foster dog that barks at any little noise. Some of this behavior may stem from being in a new house (but she has now been here a bit over 2 weeks).

 

I have informed a potential adopter about her behavior, and she is willing to work with the dog. She has asked for advice on how to deal with this behavior.

 

So far, when I am home, if she alert barks, I may try

1) getting up and going over to reassure her (she is standing and looking at where she heard the sound) and calling her to come back with me and then petting her

2) calling her to me and distracting her by giving her treats and/or asking her to do a couple of sits (and we are trying to work on a down) and then treating

and

3) when I am lazy, I may just say "hush" or "knock it off"

 

I would love to hear better suggestions since I know I can improve my technique and I would feel more informed to help the adopter.

 

Also, does anyone know if the dog is helped not to alert to small sounds when the owner is around, will it translate to when the owner is not at home?

 

I am also hoping once the dog is comfortable in a new home, she will not feel the need to alert so much.

 

Thanks in advance.

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Because I don't want a dog who never barks, I have always gone over to the dog, acting like I was checking out the environment, and then praise the dog for alerting me, and then the dog will quiet down because she knows that it is ok with you. I hope this works for you. After you have praised her you can always move her away from that spot. You DO want a dog to alert when they think something is wrong, and then you take over and be in charge. I would say stick with your number one approach.

 

Kathy Robbins

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For me, the long term solution involved getting up, looking at what she was barking at (not going to the dog but looking out the window/door/whatever she was directing her barking toward), saying 'it's okay' and then going back to what I was doing and ignoring. This eventually led to 'it's okay' = I'm ignoring now, things are fine, chill out.

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I say, “I’ll look” and get up to look out the window. Then I say an upbeat “thank you” and go about my business. Alarm barking is one reason I keep dogs.

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Just wanted to add that's quite possible he won't keep batking at everything for long. When I moved house, my dog, who is not a barker, spent the first few weeks alerting to everything and anything. Then she got used to the new neighbourhood and settled, only alerting to the very few really unusual things.

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Is she bored and needing more stimulation? I teased that my last BC didnt have a job, so thats the one he made himself. When he wasnt being stimulated with play, he spent his time alerting to every movement out the front door. We learned to deal with it, but I believe he became more reactive over time because of it. It could be thats the job she knows, until given a new one.

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For me, the long term solution involved getting up, looking at what she was barking at (not going to the dog but looking out the window/door/whatever she was directing her barking toward), saying 'it's okay' and then going back to what I was doing and ignoring. This eventually led to 'it's okay' = I'm ignoring now, things are fine, chill out.

 

 

I say, “I’ll look” and get up to look out the window. Then I say an upbeat “thank you” and go about my business. Alarm barking is one reason I keep dogs.

This is essentially my method as well. Works fine, since I want them to alert, just to stop when I say "thank you", or "It's OK, thanks". If I don't respond fast enough, one of them will run to where I am to get me to come look. Usually I don't see what they are barking at, but don't doubt that they saw something I do not.

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I've tried to associate a command with alert barking - "watchdog!" worked well with Ross (to the point where he'll bark if we're just talking about a wristwatch). Somehow once you associate a command with it, you'll find dogs are more likely to only bark when asked to do so. Not to say that I don't still get alert barking (if a dog hears a car coming down our driveway, for example). But I now can shut it off with a "that'll do, thank you!".

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