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Out of curiosity, does anyone else have a dog that barks throughout training? Has anyone had success teaching them to stay quiet? Our trainer dismissed it saying, "some borders get excited and express themselves via barking." 

And for background, it's not aggression or annoyance or anything in that vein. She simply, when we go through the routine of 'sit, down, etc.' barks THE ENTIRE TIME. It's not harmful or concerning, it's just super annoying and  we live in a place where the neighbors no doubt hear her every bark and squeal so if there's a way to minimize it, all the better. If it's simply, "welcome to life with a border," so be it.  

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I wonder how old this dog is? Are we talking about a puppy or older dog? Is the dog barky at other times as well, or only during training?

If it is only during training, then one  thing to consider is how many distractions or possible triggers there are during training, investigate that and see if you can pinpoint what those are, and to remove all of them if possible. It is possible your dog is very stressed out by the training for some reason. Training in an enclosed indoor space during a quiet time, no one else around, etc. 

Either way, my opinion is that the barking should be stopped. If I were training a dog who barked constantly, I would make sure first of all that the training was the most enjoyable it could possibly be for the dog, involving much praise, breaks to play, and very high value treats. Then, when the dog started barking I would give a cue to stop, and when the dog ignored me I would stop the training session and pop the dog into the crate for five minutes. Let the dog out, start again, when barking starts repeat. And repeat. And never stop repeating. If you are away from home at a training class, take the dog outside and insist on a sit each time he starts barking. Sit for 5 minutes, go back in. Repeat. The idea is the fun stops if he barks.

If the dog likes the training, and it is taken away from him when he barks, he will learn not to bark. I am very disappointed that your trainer dismissed it as "some borders bark", because to me that is not a sign of a good trainer. This is not a breed trait of border collies, and should not in any case be permitted in any breed. Continuing the training session with the dog barking only teaches him that it is acceptable to bark constantly, which I doubt is what you want to do.

 

 

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^^ Exactly what she said. Every single word.

One other thought it is that it could be demand barking, perhaps for treats if you're using them as a reward. Whatever you do, don't reward the bark. Bark + sit = no treat. It's not what you asked for. Ditto with any other cue that's complied with but complied with with a bark attached. That's not what the cues mean and if you reward whatever action she performs if accompanied by a bark you're rewarding for the entire behavior, which includes the bark that you don't want.

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Total agree with Gentlelake and D'elle, its definitely not a border collie thing and your trainer is not helping by not helping you get it under control. My older dog can be squeally when he is excited to do something but I keep it under control by simply waiting for calm before continuing, I love his enthusiasm and never want to take that way, but I also don't want to work with a barking squealing beast. 

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  • 2 months later...

The answer to that's simple. No training unless she's quiet. As soon as the barking starts, so does the training. It's called negative punishment: removing what the dog wants when it's behaving unacceptably. Once she calms down you can try again, but at the first bark mark it with something like "Oops!" or "Too Bad!" and walk away. Bark=no more training. If she likes it that much she'll learn to suppress the barking if she wants to continue training.

Edited to correct "As soon as the barking stops, so does the training." It should be as soon as the barking starts, the training stops!

 

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I've had four Borders.  My current male, Logan, is a happy barker.  Quiet otherwise he would bark during training because he loved it so much and was over the top happy about it.  Unfortunately, I tried almost everything any trainer suggested for years until I happened on the solution mentioned above.  Give a verbal warning, then stop training.  I'm sad I didn't realize this years ago.  No one suggested it, I just (eventually) figured it out on my own and it very much improved his barking.  Do it now before it becomes a habit that is hard to resolve.

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I had a barker.  I taught him to bark on command.  We would have barkfests.  He loved it. I did that so I could, at the same time, teach him quiet on command.  I would get him barking and then give the hush command and freeze.  A few seconds of quiet earned a treat.  When he understood that game, I gave the hush command but kept moving.  There were no treats for barking as that was self rewarding.  I stretched out the few seconds to minutes.  After that if he started barking on his own, I had a hush command to get him to stop no matter what we were doing.  

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That's also a good technique, 2bc4me. I haven't used it but it sounds logical and I have heard of others using it to good effect.

One thing that helped me is that several years ago when I had a barky foster dog I decided to bark along with him and then my own dogs started barking and we had a wonderful barkfest for several minutes. I realized that it is immensely fun to bark and bark. It taught me why barking is self-rewarding for dogs and that understanding has help me to work with barking ever since. :-)

 

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