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Excessive Barking

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Megan, 16 weeks old, barks all the time. In the house, its not so bad, its really only when someone knocks at the front door she will have her bark... But when outside, its becomine a whole other story.

When off-leash, she is really good. But if she see's another dog or person when she is ON the leash, she goes mental. She barks and lunges toward them, barking and barking and just won't stop. It's happening all the time now. The thing is, if she saw the same person and was off the leash, she would be fine. She doesn't bark much at people or other dogs when off the leash (of course there is the odd occassion), but it only seems to be when she is on-leash.


There are times of-course when she has to be on-leash, such as near a road etc. And this behaviour is becoming increasingly worse. At 10/11pm when i take my dogs out for their last walk, megan goes into a frenzy of barking the minute she see's anyone. At 11pm this is really getting rediclous, as people are soon going to begin complaining. We live in a small rural village, so any dog who barks can be pritty much heard for miles! So when Meg barks at 11pm, i wouldn't be surprised if the whole village woke up! The same when she goes for her first walk in the early morning!

It's not only happening when i take her out around my area, its happening everywhere we go when she is on-leash. The park, the city, the beach etc etc.. You get the idea :rolleyes: Because we have lots of land around us, she is rarely on the leash, and i always take and walk her places where i don't put her on leash, but there are times when i take her in the city etc, to get her accustomed to the noises and lots of people etc, which in these cases, she obviously has to be on the leash.


I'm getting unsure how to correct this now. At first, i tried to distract her with a treat / food peice. But when she's outside, she's not all to interested in food and many times she will just turn her nose up at the treat. Lately she took a brilliant interest in her tennis ball whilst out on walks, which i was very pleased at, but even the ball doesn't distract her if we are walking past someone or a dog and she starts barking. Most recently, i have tried correcting her via the leash - not in a harsh way. To be honest, none of these things are making a slight bit of difference. She just carries on barking until the person or dog are out of sight.


Would be greatful for any advice.

Just to add, she has been very very well socilised sinse a very young age. I have taken her to lots of puppy partys, socilisation classes and puppy classes where she had lots of positive experiences with both people and other dogs. I also reguarly walk her with a friend who is a dog walker, so she again meets plenty of friendly dogs and other people and has positive experiences with them on a daily basis!!

It just seems to be when we are alone (Myself, Meg and my Labrador) out walking together, the 3 of us. It's as if Meg feels its her duty to 'protect her pack'... (I have her on NILF)


Anyway, would apprecaite some advice :D As 2 days ago when she was frantically barking at another dog, the other dog got pis*ed off and ended up snapping and biting at my labrador!! Even though my labrador was being as quiet as a mouse and wouldn't hurt a fruit fly!!! He got the brunt of it for Megans silly barking!! It was terribly upsetting, and i really want to nip this barking frenzy behaviour in the butt!!


Thanks :D

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:rolleyes: that must be so frustrating for you. I totally agree that it sounds like she is protecting her pack, when on a lead a dog feels quite protective. I would presume that by now you feel stressed when out with her, she probably feels this from you which will make matters worse, i am so sorry that i cant help with advice but i wish you luck.
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I really wish that somelike like Melanie, who is expert in dog behavior, would reply to your questions. I have only very limited ability to consider your problem and make suggestions.


I have found that so much of what we view as aggressive behavior is really based on fear. It is often compounded when a dog is restrained - on leash, in the car, in the house, where they feel safe enough to react to others (people or dogs or whatever) as well as uncomfortable (in the case of a leash or even a car) at not being free to move independently. That's precisely what I think you have described, your dog that if fine off-lead or in the house but not on lead.


One thing to consider is that, if you walk her with a tight lead or tighten the lead in anticipation of a problem, you tend to transmit your anxiety to her. Trainers stress using a loose lead (whenever reasonably possible) to avoid this very thing. I realize that that isn't always an option and you can't have her lunging and hitting the end of the lead.


Another recent thread about Gentle Leaders (a snug head collar, not the Halti which is looser) elicited comments about how the Gentle Leader would correct a dog that lunged, and could be an effective training tool (or at least to prevent the dog from interacting with the person or animal it was lunging at) to deter that behavior.


What you are seeing (the barking and lunging, and I'm sure I'm going out on a limb here) is not the problem - the problem is that "thing" that is resulting in the barking/lunging. In other words, whatever fear or trigger that results in the barking and lunging. In order to "get rid of" the barking and lunging, you will have to work on the fear (or whatever) that is causing it.


Sometimes, it is our very actions that we think would be helping the situation that are actually contributing to it. And it does sound to me like the issue of it just being "the few of you" that is part of the trigger - Meg feeling that you are a smaller group and therefore feeling more fearful.


I'm sure I've been no help at all but I just hated to see this thread get no responses. This is a serious problem for you and for Meg. Best wishes at getting help and overcoming this.

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Thank you for the support, its very much appreciated! I have some encouraging news - Megs barking is getting less and less frequent. Of course she still does it, but its not been for a few days now! The only time she has done it in the past few days was when another dog approached us and we were playing fetch and Meg barked at it as if to say "get lost! your spoiling me and mums game!" hehe :rolleyes:

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I sincerely hope that you and Meg are able to continue improving in this situation. Sometimes, I believe it can be a real lack of confidence. Understanding handling (not spoiling), maturity in the dog, and continued working at the problem may all contribute to lessening it. The barking/lunging is no fun and can become hazardous, so it needs to be overcome. I am grateful that Meg has a caring owner. She's a lucky dog. Best wishes!

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The key to this will be patience and being very careful not to trigger the behavior when you are unprepared to deal with it. I'm dealing with a rescue who has started barking in his crate non-stop - he was the "only dog" here for a while and then I got two other rescues and his training time was cut in a third. I"m hoping to place one of the other dogs soon, and he will move to Karen's for full time training then. But meanwhile he's just bored out of his gourd, and he's VERY reactive. Reactive means if somethign happens he feels a strong need to do something about it. He's a very extreme case - any movement at all will trigger it. When he's not in his crate, and he can't run away from this feeling or do something about it (chase), he hides under things. FYI, he's a natural on sheep - he was truly beautiful to behold when he turned on.


Anyway, he's living under very controlled circumstances. Calmness is rewarded with a trip out to the sheep or a long walk where he can chase critters to his heart's content. You don't have that reward, so you have to make sure your dog is only exposed to triggers way, way, way out of reach. Figure out where your dog first perks up her ears, stands on tip toe, or pants slightly at something. You'll need the help of a friend and a lot of open space.


When you see her tell you she is focused on the trigger, get her attention. I'd turn and make sure she came away with me and correct her if she didn't. You can also ask her to "Watch me" and give her a treat if she does (practice this exercise at home first to make sure she knows what you are asking). Both will help a lot. Gradually decrease the distance you are giving the trigger. Then eventually start with a new one. Start from the same distant point where you see her JUST start to react. Decrease the distance again. Every time she screws up, go back a step. It will happen quite often so don't get frustrated, it's just part of the learning process - they get much worse before they get better. Keep adding new triggers and going backwards, then decreasing the distance. It will take WEEKS and WEEKS. But the result is a dog you can take pretty much anywhere. She may always be snarky in some circumstances but that's better than randomly agressing in all circumstances.


I had a bitch with this problem, that I used both methods with, and she completely stopped the barking nonsense, though she'd still snarl and nip at a dog that came upon her suddenly. It's hard to know how much of that was just Border Collie bitch snarkiness however. :rolleyes:


Oh, this kind of dog needs a lot of exercise and structured training. Even at her age. Unfortunately (?) you've got one of those Border Collies we warn people about - the one that needs miles of walking and some kind of sport or other intense training to stay happy. But these dogs are really rewarding if you can give her the time. I don't suppose there's someone within reach of you who offers sheepdog training? :D

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In the for what it's worth dept., 1 out of my 3 youngsters went thru a phase at about 4.5-6 months where she was barking a good bit at (it seemed) anything and everything,alert barking. Seemed that once I started acknowledging her 'diligence'( AND she grew up a bit )...she settled down.

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