Teaching the Bark

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Postby DemoDick » September 5th, 2008, 6:55 pm

There is a quiet command.

When she barks on command, there's no problem stopping her (she never barks spontaneously).

When she whines because she is anxious (which she did not do before we opened Pandora's box of sound), nothing works, except maybe stuffing her mouth with a pair of sucks and taping it shut with duct tape (and even there she'd probably whine through her nose).


Then your quiet command is not consistently obeyed. The dog is deciding when to obey and when not to.

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Postby call2arms » September 6th, 2008, 10:43 am

Anything useful to say here, Demo? Cause I noticed she doesn't obey in that stress situation, she's not herself.
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Postby katiek0417 » September 6th, 2008, 11:06 am

call2arms wrote:Anything useful to say here, Demo? Cause I noticed she doesn't obey in that stress situation, she's not herself.


I'm not Demo, but dealing with a dog that in "stress" is much different than dealing with a dog that's just being an arse!

For a dog in stress, I'd use more positive methods - perhaps clicker for being quiet...or using a toy to get her to be quiet...I had the same situation with Rocky...
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Postby amazincc » September 6th, 2008, 11:24 am

Same here w/Beast... he can't function well during stressful times.

Is there any command she's receptive to during stress? You could, for example, give her the "sit" command, and then work on the quiet command... she needs something to do first when she's anxious, before you can address other behaviors. Does that make sense? :wink:
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Postby TheRedQueen » September 6th, 2008, 11:40 am

I'd c/t during stress times...even if she won't take the treats...the click can help calm anxieties. Basically, just click for quiet. :| The hard part, as I mentioned above, is getting some dogs to realize that they're making the noise. It almost seems like a bad habit that they're not aware of...(I bite my nails...and I can actively control myself sometimes...but other times, I don't realize I'm doing it). Katrina might have more insight into this...;)

But yeah, my last dog...was a whiner. I got the bark/quiet on cue...but his whining was something else. Anxious whining...he'd respond to other known cues (sit, down, etc) but continue whining the whole time. I tried a bit of clicking for quiet...but this was before I got into clicking as much. None of the gang now has the same problem...so I can't say for certain what would work!
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Postby katiek0417 » September 6th, 2008, 12:12 pm

TheRedQueen wrote:I'd c/t during stress times...even if she won't take the treats...the click can help calm anxieties. Basically, just click for quiet. :| The hard part, as I mentioned above, is getting some dogs to realize that they're making the noise. It almost seems like a bad habit that they're not aware of...(I bite my nails...and I can actively control myself sometimes...but other times, I don't realize I'm doing it). Katrina might have more insight into this...;)

But yeah, my last dog...was a whiner. I got the bark/quiet on cue...but his whining was something else. Anxious whining...he'd respond to other known cues (sit, down, etc) but continue whining the whole time. I tried a bit of clicking for quiet...but this was before I got into clicking as much. None of the gang now has the same problem...so I can't say for certain what would work!


You're going to get me in trouble for taking this off topic, aren't you??? :wink:

Seriously, it's just a matter of an action becoming automatic. Think about riding a bike or driving a car. You can do it without much conscious effort - same with brushing your teeth, etc. Well, sometimes bad habits like biting your nails becomes the same type of automatic behavior. The beauty of these automatic tasks like driving a car, etc, is that it frees up attentional capacity to do other things. When your mind isn't preoccupied with other things, you can pay attention to these automatic tasks. On the other hand, when your mind is preoccupied, because it's an automatic process, you don't need to pay attention to it to be doing it...
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Postby DemoDick » September 6th, 2008, 12:23 pm

You need to teach the dog to obey under stress. This is one of the reasons I don't believe in "stress free training" as advocated by many these days. In fact, there is no such thing. The real world has stress, and that is why training must have stress as well. But it must be measured and controlled and ramped up according to what the dog can handle.

It's not as simple as marking the quiet behavior and later labeling it. Because as soon as stress is added back into the mix the vocalizations will come back. You also can't simply take the stressor away because the end goal is teaching the dog to deal with it. This is not the same as ignoring it, BTW. Basically I would teach the dog that the source of stress is something that HE can manage all by himself. Once the dog understands that the world isn't gong to end his confidence will go up and he will learn to handle other stressors with similar coping skills all by himself.

I would come up with a list of what stresses the dog and begin a program of obedience at relatively low levels of stress, teaching the dog to slowly tolerate the source of the stress and focus on you and your rewards. Gentle corrections may be in order, because sit does indeed mean sit, but DON'T hammer the dog and create avoidance or you'll do more harm than good.

What specifically stresses the dog?

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Postby katiek0417 » September 6th, 2008, 12:37 pm

I think it's important to know what kind of stress is occurring, Demo. Here's the thing. Is the stress a result of fear? It's much harder to get a dog to think when it's scared. There was no way you were going to get Rocky to be quiet when he was stressed out - and forget putting corrections on him b/c you were getting eaten up....so we did a lot of rewarding him for being quiet...and it did work...
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Postby TheRedQueen » September 6th, 2008, 12:54 pm

I understand what you're saying Demo...and I agree. :)

Bringing my dog back up...Elwood just plain got excited about stuff. Anxiously excited (if that makes sense)...because he was a middle-ranking dog...so he was always a bit unnerved by everything. As I said, he'd respond to known cues, or to unknown requests...(get up on this new piece of equipment)...but there was often an undertone of whining in his voice. A lot of times, it was just a wheezy breathing type of whine...really low under his breath. But it drove me crazy! lol

He was confident in some circumstances...flyball was the big thing for him...or just playing ball or frisbee in the back yard. No whining then. But his confidence would crumble in some places/locations/events, and the whining would happen. Usually was EXCITED about being in the new place...but whining would still occur as there was a undercurrent of anxiety. I used to use gentle corrections at this stage of my training...but he'd just take them, and whine again. Taking him away from the situation...more whining because we were leaving. He'd whine sitting in his crate during time-outs. He'd whine in the car, he'd whine in class, he'd whine in the house. (btw...numerous vet checks...no pain problems...) He just whined under his breath most of the time. When he was really pleased, he'd grab a toy and chuff...he was always noisy. ;)

Basically...most of life and the world stressed him to some extent. This was not a dog that sat around the house doing nothing either...he was a frisbee dog, a flyball dog, a therapy dog, etc. He did stuff...confidence was raised, stress levels lowered...then the whining would start anew.

Can dogs develop the same bad habits as people...are they wired that way? I know someone who sings under her breath when stressed...and another person who whistles quietly when stressed...reminds me of Elwood.
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Postby amazincc » September 6th, 2008, 1:12 pm

So... working up from a known command to a new one is not do-able in a stressful situation? Wouldn't "giving the dog something to do" (something she's familiar w/already, anyway) get her to focus less on the anxiety-causing situation, thus making it easier (eventually) to address the unwanted behavior or teach a new skill/command?

Mick will never cope well at the vet, ever.
But by making him sit (or stay, or whatever) and having him do something other than just "be anxious" I was able to teach him a follow-up command, like rolling over on his side and laying still. At least long enough for the vet techs to be able to do what they needed to.
Just asking him to obey me and to not whine/growl/lunge wasn't working for either of us, since he didn't pay any attention to corrections when he was all fired up.
I guess timing was also very important. I'd have to catch him before he got all worked up in the first place.

I hope I explained this coherently.
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Postby airwalk » September 6th, 2008, 1:26 pm

I love this conversation because this seems to be a source of a lot of Magic's vocalization. He is excited or anxious about meeting other new dogs, about getting to play, about going out, about getting in the car...about most new things and then he begins vocalizing. Sometimes bark, sometimes whine.

Literally I, and the staff at work, feel like he simply cannot help himself. A bit like an ADHD child off meds, he tries, he knows, he just can't.

Giving him known commands - he'll comply. He'll sit, down, stay...and he'll stop barking (momentarily) but then it's like he just cannot help it, he has to vocalize to some level, even if it's just a low level whine.

Rewarding quiet has helped some...correcting the vocalization hasn't changed his behavior at all. We've tried corrections from a simply voice command - to sit, down, stay, shake...to he is learning to speak, to harder physical corrections to crating and each makes a teeny inroad, but nothing lasting and nothing major.
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Postby katiek0417 » September 6th, 2008, 1:38 pm

amazincc wrote:So... working up from a known command to a new one is not do-able in a stressful situation? Wouldn't "giving the dog something to do" (something she's familiar w/already, anyway) get her to focus less on the anxiety-causing situation, thus making it easier (eventually) to address the unwanted behavior or teach a new skill/command?

Mick will never cope well at the vet, ever.
But by making him sit (or stay, or whatever) and having him do something other than just "be anxious" I was able to teach him a follow-up command, like rolling over on his side and laying still. At least long enough for the vet techs to be able to do what they needed to.
Just asking him to obey me and to not whine/growl/lunge wasn't working for either of us, since he didn't pay any attention to corrections when he was all fired up.
I guess timing was also very important. I'd have to catch him before he got all worked up in the first place.

I hope I explained this coherently.


No, it's absolutely do-able. I don't like to teach anything new when the dog is overly stressed or fearful. I use something the dog already knows, and I tell them to do that...that way I can correct them if they break that command...but I don't try to teach something new until I have them under control doing what they already know...does that make sense?
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby amazincc » September 6th, 2008, 1:44 pm

Yes... that's what I was trying to say, in my own convoluted way... lol

Mick does know "sit" and all that, so I didn't "correct" him for being anxious... but for breaking a command/not listening. It taught him to focus more on me and less on all the stuff that scared him.
It's such a process though... definitely little tiny baby steps and you need a ton of patience. :P
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Postby TheRedQueen » September 6th, 2008, 1:49 pm

I guess I'd like to know if anyone has gotten rid of that low-level whining...like my Elwood, and it sounds like Magic has the same issue. It's probably fear based...but it's not overtly fearful... You can't correct it (I was unsuccessful at least)...and it's hard to capture "quiet" when the whining is continuous. Barking...that's easy compared to that. At least the dog takes a breath to bark again. Other vocalizations, haven't had a problem with those...but the under the breath whining...couldn't get rid of it. Fail! :giggle:
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Postby SassyCassie » September 6th, 2008, 2:38 pm

Well Cassie learned to bark frequently when taking her first class at the building while agility or flyball was going on................something active where other dogs were barking ALOT. Now i can't get her to shut up. So i suggest you join the novice class next week and Cassie will teach your little one to bark.
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Postby call2arms » September 6th, 2008, 2:38 pm

Thanks for the constructive advice, all!

Wowww. Jessie had been better in the car (major stressor) for a while (since we got the new car, new setup for her in the car and whatnot) but this morning I got into an argument with BF (stress!) and she drove us nuts in the car. My hopes for a magic car that solved everything are gone...

Today she was horrible. She would stick her face over the rear seats, I would ask her to lay down and you'd just see her nose sticking over the seats, still whining... 2 hours straight. It's not just soft quiet whining, she really seems like she's distressed and can't help it... We tried playing at the park till she's almost dead, Acepromazine (does not work anymore - her body got used to it, the dose will not go up!), clicker (she doesn't even hear it in the car), food, her favorite toys, ignoring her, giving her the quiet command, even the marrow bone (ew) in the car. Nope.

BUT, she is quieter on the highway, for some reason as soon as there are stop lights and turns, she gets more anxious. And, she is always better on the way back, too.

Needless to say, with her like that, my bf (who's not a fan of dogs to start with) does not want to ''go around the block'' every day to desensitize her, and I don't drive.

So usually we just sit in the car like two stiff manequins wanting to strangle her, and we don't say a word for 2 hours.

edited to add: she never, ever puked in the car, no drooling or physical signs of nausea.
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Postby TheRedQueen » September 6th, 2008, 3:21 pm

My Elwood was worse in the car too...anxious to the point of diarrhea. Trust me...cleaning up diarrhea off the door panels on the side of the PA turnpike...with no clean-up supplies to speak of- is NOT fun. :puke:

One thing that worked for Elwood was to put him in a crate that he couldn't see out of ...I don't know if that's possible for you and the new car. Once in his "den", he was quieter. :| Even in the dead of summer, he traveled in the metal monkey cage. Otherwise I would have killed him.

And hey, mods...can we split this topic please? lol
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"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby katiek0417 » September 6th, 2008, 3:38 pm

TheRedQueen wrote:I guess I'd like to know if anyone has gotten rid of that low-level whining...like my Elwood, and it sounds like Magic has the same issue. It's probably fear based...but it's not overtly fearful... You can't correct it (I was unsuccessful at least)...and it's hard to capture "quiet" when the whining is continuous. Barking...that's easy compared to that. At least the dog takes a breath to bark again. Other vocalizations, haven't had a problem with those...but the under the breath whining...couldn't get rid of it. Fail! :giggle:


Cy whimpers (the low level whine) in the crate if he wants to be out with me...I just tell him "no" and he quiets down right away...
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Postby TheRedQueen » September 6th, 2008, 4:16 pm

katiek0417 wrote:
TheRedQueen wrote:I guess I'd like to know if anyone has gotten rid of that low-level whining...like my Elwood, and it sounds like Magic has the same issue. It's probably fear based...but it's not overtly fearful... You can't correct it (I was unsuccessful at least)...and it's hard to capture "quiet" when the whining is continuous. Barking...that's easy compared to that. At least the dog takes a breath to bark again. Other vocalizations, haven't had a problem with those...but the under the breath whining...couldn't get rid of it. Fail! :giggle:


Cy whimpers (the low level whine) in the crate if he wants to be out with me...I just tell him "no" and he quiets down right away...


Sure, I can get rid of whining too...with a quiet, or no command...but for serious whining...anything? I never realized how annoying it was until Elwood came into my life. The others all whine for things, but not constantly.
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby Hundilein » September 6th, 2008, 10:02 pm

Erin, I have no suggestions, but when you find the magic cure, please share it with me. You've heard Renee. She sounds a lot like Elwood. And it makes me nuts sometimes!
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