7 month old reactive barking

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OttosMama
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Joined: 08 Dec 2020, 10:46
First Name: Georgie
Dog #1: Otto
is a: Black Mini Dog
Born: 0- 0-2020

7 month old reactive barking

Post by OttosMama »

Hey there!
My handsome man is 7 months old and is a reactive barker to strangers (he absolutely loves loves any other dog). It started when he was around 5 months old and myself and a behaviourist think we've established what the trigger was. I'm currently working hard on desensitising him to strangers - we started at around 15m and on the whole, people can now walk past and he generally will just keep sniffing or looks at me and he gets a high value treat.

I've read the other posts on barking and wanted to know - where are you all at?

I do find it stressful and upsetting (I hate the thought of Otto stressed) but am trying to focus on the fact that he's come on leaps and bounds. He still gets triggered by people looking at him, talking to him or talking to me. He's also not a fan of me sitting down and someone walking towards us (say, a nearby bench). Let's not even talk about someone in the house or the garden haha. His recall is pretty good, but at the moment unless the park is pretty quiet/empty, he stays on his long line as he has been known to run after people/chase after them barking furiously.

I know he's still young, but I don't want to just hold on to the fact that he may grow out of this (which so many people tell me) because I know alot of it comes down to training and desensitising. Any other tips beyond what I'm doing/experience etc will be so greatly received!

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zeta1454
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Re: 7 month old reactive barking

Post by zeta1454 »

I am sure that others will be able to give more advice from experience but just to say that training is often a long-haul process especially when you are dealing with an issue that may stem from a negative or traumatic experience. While it is certainly not true that dogs will just ‘grow out’ of barking, Otto is going through adolescence and this will be having an impact on how responsive he is to training and how reactive he may be generally. Even previously relaxed and confident puppies can go through a period of reactive behaviour and forgetting training during adolescence so it may be a factor to consider in Otto’s case too.

If you have good advice and support from the behaviourist and you are seeing progress in Otto’s behaviour I think it may just be a question of keeping going and trying to be patient. I would not be expecting significant behaviour change until he is at least a year old and if there is a particular trigger that started this, it may mean long term awareness that certain people or situations may be seen as threatening or stressful for him. For some dogs, a deep seated anxiety / trigger point may need managing rather than trying to totally overcome it and avoiding situations which are known to be particularly stressful, if that is possible.
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Dawnspell
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Re: 7 month old reactive barking

Post by Dawnspell »

As Leigh says its not something he's just going to grow out of. What they practice today becomes the normal behaviour of tomorrow. So as you have been doing manage the situations so he has less opportunity to bark and less barking will become the habit. Each time he barks it reinforces the barking behaviour. He will also be picking up on your anxiety one thing I've found useful is if you stand facing them when giving the treat that is actually quite confrontational, try standing sideways when you give the treat. It calms your body language. Also stillness is something that spooks dogs, its similar to us in a space if someone is just stood doing nothing it freaks us out far more than if they were walking towards us. Which is probably why he reacts more when you stand still and hes still. Try to keep him moving doing sits or spins or some other reliable behaviour that he likes doing.

I havent had a problem with barking on walks but Jasper is a woofer at home. I've started implementing calming behaviours and it has helped a lot. Hes gone form if the door bell rings racing at top speed out of the office, hurdling over the settee, barking all the way and then lunging at the glass door where he could see the person and not stopping barking until they'd gone. To the other day the door bell went he was in the office he stood up, gave a gruff, he was going to go. I said "calm" (thats his marker word for everything is ok ignore) gave him a treat he settled back down.
Think about your environment the bell was the first trigger, seeing through the glass door was a second trigger so I pulled the curtain across so he cant see. That removed a trigger and helped straight away.

If youre interested heres a link to free ebook on calming that are some of the things I do and are still working on with Jasper.
https://game.absolute-dogs.com/calm44148328
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Schnauzerluv
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Re: 7 month old reactive barking

Post by Schnauzerluv »

My boy is 9 months old and I think his teenage antics are kicking in. Just like Jasper, Ozzy doesn't bark on walks, but at home (especially if daddy is due back from work) he gets very anxious/excited and goes between the garden fence and the front window watching for things to bark at. That's just so you know where we are at lol.

So I guess my stradegy is to keep him more occupied with mental stimulation or physical excersise during that time.

I continue to stay with him and distract him from barking and reward for being quiet. I'll either play with him or offer him food reward and a big verbal celebration.

For prey in the garden, he doesn't bark, but he's allowed to chase the birds and squirells out of the yard. Don't worry, he could never get to them, way too many trees around. But after he sees he can't get to them or they are gone, he'll run back to me. You bet I will reward him for being quiet and coming back to me. Usually he is frustrated so I will play a game of tug with him.

I just make sure that any good behavior is rewarded even if he always is good with it, I let him know how pleased I am with him. Even an offered 'sit', 'lie down' or 'look at me' is always rewarded.

OttosMama
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Joined: 08 Dec 2020, 10:46
First Name: Georgie
Dog #1: Otto
is a: Black Mini Dog
Born: 0- 0-2020

Re: 7 month old reactive barking

Post by OttosMama »

Thank you all for taking the time to post a reply!
Over the past 3/4 days, Otto seems to have suddenly just chilled out when we're walking. Don't get me wrong, there are still certain people that he'll bark at, but I know why - passer-by staring at him/walking fast and looking directly at him. I'm definitely being kinder to both of us in terms of chilling out too and accepting dogs communicate by barking. His pulling on the lead seems to have really stopped too, so hopefully we're turning a corner.

My 'look at me's are always with me standing beside him as it's mainly when he's walking on lead next to me, but I definitely can see that other people's BL can be a trigger for him.

Thank you for the e-book on calming behaviours. I've just downloaded it and will be trying out some new things with Otto this week. I think implementing the word 'calm' and rewarding that behaviour will be something Otto will love too as he loves being rewarded for good behaviour.

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