OUR BARKING DOGS vs. My SANITY
November 8, 2009 5:58 AM   Subscribe

What other things can we do to stop Our relentlessly Barking Big Dogs from yapping constantly! HELP!

I'm losing it here. I hate having to yell at our barking dogs all the time! We've tried EVERYthing! NOTHING works! collars of all sorts... doggie-speak techniques...a fake bird house that emits high pitched sounds when they bark... they're even bad inside this week... I am so bummed. We have a 3 yr old Great Pyrenees neutered male and a 2 yr old neutered Newfoundland female. All of these things have helped for a while but then these two just get used to them and carry on as if nothing had been done. These dogs can be and are sweethearts but the barking is making me very irritable and tense.
posted by mickeefynn to Pets & Animals (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
By the way, we live right in-town in a neighborhood. But even if we didn't, these guys are way out of line.
posted by mickeefynn at 6:02 AM on November 8, 2009


I started training my dog with a squirt bottle- you get one "No!", then I show you the squirt bottle, then I spray you with the squirt bottle. Now I barely have to squirt her anymore- just seeing the bottle makes her calm down.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:02 AM on November 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


This just kept popping up all over the place:
*Because of their natural instinct toward protection, Great Pyrenees can develop an excessive barking problem. *

More on the breed and the approach to their training

Re the Newfoundland - all the sites out there indicate that this breed is sweet and low on excessive barking which makes me think that the Pyr is setting off the alarm and the NewFoundland is picking up the vibe from him. I think some behavior therapy for the Pyr is in order. You may be able to find some resources at this GreatPyr forum from people who live, breathe and know this breed and can be of greater assistance.
posted by watercarrier at 6:14 AM on November 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You probably know this, but along with whatever techniques (coins in a can? have you heard of that one?) you are using, don't ever, ever give them anything they want when they are barking. Food? You don't get the food until you stop barking. Then instant praise and food. Same with walks, petting/attention, treats and toys. If they aren't just barking from external stimuli, they are barking to get you to do something. Don't do it! Until they are silent. And then silence is rewarded at once.

I feel for you, because this is a tough one. Good luck!
posted by taz at 7:39 AM on November 8, 2009


When you yell at a barking dog, they just think you're barking with them which encourages them to keep barking. Don't yell at them. They don't speak English. What I have found works for me is a "Dog Whisperer" trick. It was very effective on a neurotic dachschund of my mom's who barked NONF*CKINGSTOP. When dog is in a barkfit, grasp the skin at the base of their skull/back of the neck firmly. Look them straight in the face and in a low, very firm and confident voice I say "no barking." Apparently the neck grasp is similar to how the mother dog would grab them as a pup to chastise them for misbehaving, so having your fingers holding them there reminds them of their mother's teeth. The low firm command is an authoritative growl. It's not painful and is not cruel. After a few rounds of this, the pain-in-the ass dachshund got the message. You may need to repeat on occasion as a reminder. My own dog is not much of a barker, but if she does forget herself all I have to do is the low/firm "no barking" command and she quiets right up. I've never even had to do the neck grasp on her.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 7:45 AM on November 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, I should toss in the caveat there... only do the neck grasp thing on a dog that is not emotionally overwrought or in fight mode, on an animal that you know and trust. Do not do this on dogs you don't know as it could result in having your arm/face/other body parts forcibly removed.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 7:46 AM on November 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Stopping the barking will be much easier if you walk the dog more. I don't know how much you walk your dog now, but usually more exercise is a general fix-all for bad behavior. Also, if you're dog doesn't know the "speak" command, try to teach them that. Dogs are better able to be quiet on command if you teach them how to bark on command.
posted by lubujackson at 7:56 AM on November 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Teach them the ENOUGH command.
Allow them to bark once or twice to the bark trigger (my dogs' is the doorbell). Interrupt the barking with a distraction. I used a soda can i'd put pennies in and smashed. It has a nice loud metallic sound dogs really dislike. DO NOT THROW the can AT the dog--just on the floor or shake it to stop the barking. As you shake the can, give the "enough" command. The millisecond they have stopped barking give them lots and lots of praise and a super special treat. Rinse and repeat above.

This doesn't cut out ALL barking, but it allows you control over how much they bark. My oldest is a fantastic guard dog and a very mean sounding bark. I don't want her to never bark, because her barking is useful. But I taught her the enough command so that I could limit it.
posted by hecho de la basura at 8:01 AM on November 8, 2009


My Great Dane was always wonderfully silent until I moved to a new place, then she started barking at every little noise. We've been working on it with some success. First, you have to figure out what sets them off. Mine has two modes: warning when she's inside, and excitement outside. Those need different responses.

For the warning barks, I tried to realign her behavior so she still does what she feels is her job. When she barks, I glare and shush her (a power-librarian shhh, but no yelling), and call her to sit beside me. Then she either gets reassuring petting or we go investigate the noise together. It's worked pretty well, she rarely barks inside the house now because she knows she can get my attention by coming to me and staring intently.

The outside barks are trickier, cause they're more of an excess exuberance thing. For that, I keep a loaded Super Soaker by the door. Squirt bottles don't have much of an impact on big dogs, but the water gun has real stopping power. Shooting your dog: it's effective and cathartic! We got to the point that the shhk-SHHK cranking noise is enough to shut her up.

I'm sure it's more difficult with two dogs. The dynamics are not the same, they wind each other up and you're outnumbered. To get some of that alpha power back, you might need to divide and conquer. You should try to interact with each dog individually instead of dealing with them both as a unit. Whatever you do, don't yell! That just adds to the LOUD NOISES vibe, it feels good but it doesn't help, they just think you're joining in.
posted by Freyja at 8:13 AM on November 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Someone I know had success stopping their American Bulldog's incessant barking with a shock collar. When the dog barks, they get a little jolt. The best part is that works ALL the time, even when you aren't around.
posted by gnutron at 8:35 AM on November 8, 2009


Seconding watercarrier's advice. It is normal for Great Pyrenees dogs to bark a lot. There is nothing you are depriving them of. I know. I had one. They are the barkiest of the barky dogs.

This breed was trained as guard dogs. They bark when they detect an intruder. This means in practice, that if someone steps on a leaf a block away, the Great Pyrenees starts barking its head off.

For ours, we would just pet her and soothe her and keep her inside as much as possible and...just be very patient. This is not working for you I guess and I can't specifically advise you except to urge you to ask for help from others who are familiar with this breed.
posted by vacapinta at 8:36 AM on November 8, 2009


The shock collar is by far the most humane alternative, and as mentioned, is the only thing that will work when you're not around. I've tested it on myself and it's not at all an extreme shock (slightly above a 9v on the tongue in my estimation). In my experience the dog only needs to wear it for a week or less and they're trained for life.
posted by Locobot at 9:05 AM on November 8, 2009


Thanks to all for your concern and humane suggestions. We did try a shock collar but may not have accessed the best one. Any suggestions on a brand? I'm sure the barking continues when we're not at home as well.
posted by mickeefynn at 9:37 AM on November 8, 2009


Shocking a dog for doing what is natural is not humane no matter how you cut it. Many people who've adopted this breed find it's too much to handle, especially if they live in town and have opted to give them up. Maybe that's the solution for you. Giving them to someone with a yard, maybe with farm animals where he could be free and do his Pyr thing without fear is the most humane thing to do.
posted by watercarrier at 9:55 AM on November 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


The shock collar is a terrible idea if you have more than one dog. No matter who is wearing it, it goes off when any dog barks. So you are essentially punishing one dog for the actions of the other, even if they are both wearing shock collars. I do not like them at all for many reasons, but I think that is the most pressing one in your case.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:08 AM on November 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Keeping a dog in any kind of enclosure and feeding it anything but raw meat is also not natural, but we consider those things to be humane... It's also natural for dogs to shit and piss where they please, I guess you don't scold your dog for doing those things watercarrier? Admittedly I don't know the breed, so I can't say whether a collar will actually work. Also a shock collar is going to train the dog to never bark which may not be desirable either. If you've already tried one then it's probably not the best solution. I'm guessing uprooting and moving to the country to suit your dog's preferences is not an option. I would try some of the good squirtgun/rattlecan suggestions above.
posted by Locobot at 10:10 AM on November 8, 2009


Nthing that the Great Pyrenese is your "problem dog." Newfies are good watch dogs, but they also seem to want nothing more than to please their owners so once they learn a command they obey it. My friend owned two Newfs who were gentle giants, but once the next door neighbor changed his work schedule and started coming home at 2AM the dogs would leap to their feet and bark ferociously. They eventually learned (in about a month) that neighbor was OK and not an intruder and ceased their nocturnal announcements.

Also Nthing the "enough" command. I have no experience with a Great P, but when we first adopted our greyhound, Trai, he would bark incessantly at the doorbell, or when he heard the mailman step up on the porch, etc. Each dog has his own favorite "thing" when it comes to its owner; for example, I noticed that when I raised my voice and cooed "baby talk" to him, he'd stop what he was doing, cock his head, raise his ears and then bury his face in my tummy or chest for petting. So I developed a habit: when he'd first bark an announcement, I'd go to the front door and look out the peephole and then tell Trai (in the midst of his barking frenzy) "Good boy! Thank you!" Then I'd switch to baby voice and start oozing "Oooh, whose mommy's pwecious widdle baby?" stuff, and he'd abruptly halt his barking and trot over for petting. Eventually, "Good boy, thank you!" became his "Enough!" command. Hopefully you can find a similar "thing" with your Great P that will catch his attention and stop him from barking.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:39 AM on November 8, 2009


I don't understand why you haven't mentioned a muzzle. I do like the idea of teaching the "enough" command. But as an adjunct, we bought a nylon muzzle for our collie. not the wire cage hannibal lecter mask - a muzzle that wraps around his snout so he can't open his mouth. I started it not as a punishment and put it on only for a minute for the first few times. then one day when he wouldn't stop barking I put it on for five minutes. it is super embarrassing for him. now we just have to show it to him and he runs and hides, and stops barking. and when we use it we make a big deal about taking it off and how he's such a good dog to know that the muzzle means quite and we give him a belly rub. (I don't ever leave it on him when he's alone because I'm worried he might choke if he has to puke.)
posted by cda at 11:21 AM on November 8, 2009


The shock collar is a terrible idea if you have more than one dog. No matter who is wearing it, it goes off when any dog barks.

This simply isn't true. We have 3 dogs, 2 have problems with barking. We've spent hours training, and they get a long walk every single day. Sometimes a collar is all that will work.

The collars have a slight beep that's a warning before going off. The dogs can be next to each other, and even the loudest bark doesn't set the other's collar off. Ever. This simply does not happen.

Believe me, I hate the collars, and rarely use them. However, the dogs are no longer being shocked because they know what the collar does. So we can take the battery out and the dogs still do not bark. One, who's especially smart, will eventually figure it out. But once the batteries are put back in and she hears the warning beep it's safe to take the batteries back out.

Two quick notes:

1. My opinions are only regarding a collar working correctly. We never use the collar when we're not around, and I would never use one when we aren't home.

2. The squirting with water is cute, but for many dogs won't work. Our dogs basically lick the water going down their nose and bark for more.
posted by justgary at 3:15 PM on November 8, 2009


Have you tried teaching the dog "sit" and "stay"? Teaching it TO do something is far more pleasant than teaching it NOT to do something, you can teach when you and the dog are in a good mood, and once it's well ingrained, try it when the dog's distracted and barking. Use plentiful dog treats.
posted by emilyw at 3:30 PM on November 8, 2009


Dogs tend to bark incessantly when they are bored.

DO NOT yell at them, that won't be a long term solution. The "Enough!" command is good. The first times you implement it, open the door, call "enough!" and have the dogs come inside. This will break the cycle, and remove the dogs from an environment they enjoy. Do this for a while, and then try calling enough without opening the door and bringing them inside. They will learn that the enough command means they're being naughty and should stop, and that you hear them.

Also, get them a Booda ball or treat ball, a Kong or two, maybe set up a jump and teach them to jump it. (My shepherd would jump the jump on his own for fun!) Put treats or peanut butter in the toys, and introduce them to the dogs. Play with them with the new toys a LOT. When the pups then play on their own, they remember you playing with them, and they feel happy, which encourages them to play more! Get a tug rope, and teach them to play tug together. Keep them too busy to bark unless there is a real reason.

Every time they start to bark, check on them. Are they barking at someone going by? Or a squirrel or bird or just the sky? Knowing WHY they bark will help you fine tune their barking towards positive ends (barking to warn of intruders ONLY). Break that cycle of bored barking.

Find a window or place where you can watch the dogs without being seen. An area where you can open the window is really ideal. EVERY TIME you see your dogs open their mouths and start barking at nothing, you need to break that cycle. My dog trainer used a piece of chain that was kind of attached in a loop. You throw that, or a can filled with rocks, or other NOISY device, TOWARDS (NOT AT!) the dog so it lands near them. They MUST NOT see you throw it! This is a great way to get the dog thinking "Hmmm, every time I bark, an unpleasant noise happens!" They will eventually stop.

I don't think a spray bottle will work too well on your Newfie... Plus, when the dog sees you coming, they can be good. They need to learn to be good when you AREN'T visible!!

The shock collars work on the same principle of breaking the cycle of barking. It may or may not work, and isn't really a good first choice to break the pattern. Plus it HURTS, and may cause damage, should NOT be used when the dogs are alone, and won't solve the problem in most cases anyway!

Break the pattern, cure the boredom, solve the problem! Good luck!
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 4:17 PM on November 8, 2009


The shock collar is a terrible idea if you have more than one dog. No matter who is wearing it, it goes off when any dog barks.

This simply isn't true.


I stood there and watched it happen repeatedly with my two dogs and one shock collar bought out of desperation for a crazy hound dog who would never shut up.
posted by mygothlaundry at 4:09 PM on November 9, 2009


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