Barking: Doodle's version of talking back?

I've seen a couple posts about barking but our situation seems to be a bit different, please be patient if it's a repeat - we appreciate your help!

Bernie is going to be 5 months old in about a week, so we're thinking we may be entering his teenage years and his barking can best be explained as the canine version of talking back.

He barks AT us. But he's not a barker in general. Very rarely things outside upset him, and he'll grunt when someone is at the door, but we're okay with those types of warning noises, especially when I'm home alone.

But the barking AT us is getting obnoxious, and my husband gets extremely annoyed by it. When I'm home with him during the day (I work from home) I just ignore him - but when my husband gets home from work he doesn't have the patience to wait it out - so we definitely need to get on the same page with a solution.

Essentially Bernie barks when he wants attention. We know that. When my husband and I are hugging, when Bernie decides he wants to play, when he knows I'm taking a picture of him, when we're eating and make him back away from us, when I'm getting dressed in the morning and the dangling sock sliding onto my foot just looks too tempting...everything lately. It's a really defiant, attention-getting tactic.

When he's within reach we grip his snout shut and say 'no bark'. But usually he's not within reach and when we approach him he darts off. When we try to make him 'sit' so we can approach him and correct him he barks at our sit command hand signal. The darting off becomes a game, so we're torn, do we chase him in order to follow through with the snout grip?

There is one thing that works, but it feels like we're acquiescing to his tantrum, so we only do it when it's late and we're worried the neighbors might actually hear his barking. If we get on the floor at his level and call him over very sweetly and kindly he tends to quiet down and slowly walk over to us, like the bid for affection satisfies him enough to shut him up. Is this giving in? We feel like it is, like he'll figure out his tantrums result in sweet, loving owners who want to give him rubs.

I guess more than anything I want to know if any of you have experienced this, if you were able to correct it, and most importantly, if they grew out of it? If they grew out of it I may be able to convince my husband to ignore him for the time being.

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  • Wow, Bernie is such a cutey!!
    Our Ayla pup (5 mo) is starting to bark more at us too! Her first few weeks with us, she was not vocal at all- very shy. She is real quiet on the walking trails, & dog park, too. A few days ago, i was having lunch by myself, in the diningroom next to the balcony, where you can see the walking trail behind me, Ayla started barking at me. I had to look behind me, because i was wondering who she is barking at, but it was me! She seems to be always hungry, but her barking really surprised me! Should i give her a treat when she stops barking, to train her? And if so, should i wait till there is a long pause in silence, or the instant she stops barking? She is still learning down/stay, not successful yet. So she is on a leash attatched to a barber chair (that spins) next to diningroom when i need to eat or do dishes, as she is still having "accidents" in her sleeping play room.
  • He's beautiful!

    All I can say is....our Nugget is 4 years old and she barks at us with a "yip" bark when she wants us to quit doing what we're doing and give her a belly rub. And you know what, we usually do. We look at it as a sanity break for all of us.

    Good luck.
    • I totally agree with you, we just need Bernie to take it down a few notches - but yes, he's an awesome sanity break and we're so happy to have him as a part of our family. We should all be so lucky that the most frustrating part of our day is teaching our dogs a few manners!
  • What Sandra said is 100% correct. Physical corrections will suppress behavior but will never train a new one (that you'd like anyway).

    The "he still barks even when we ignore him" is called an "extinction burst"(google it). Ever hear a child say "mom!" and the mom ignore him? He repeats "mom! mom! mommy! MOOOOOOOMMMMMY!" always getting louder and louder and more repetition. Why? Because each time his mom thinks to ignore him, he has to extend the amount of time nagging, until finally he gets what he wants, even though it took much longer. What this does is teach the child (or dog in this case) "If I wait long enough and just keep doing what I'm doing- EVENTUALLY it works!" So any impatience basically trains Bernie to keep barking longer!

    Do not say ANYTHING to him when he barks! Saying words to your dog is the same thing- addressing him, giving him eye contact, and the attention he's seeking. If you tell him "no bark" a)dogs don't speak English. He would have no reason to know what you're saying b) you're giving him attention! Get up, leave the room, do not look at him!

    Also, he is a 5 month old PUPPY! With ENERGY! Tired puppies don't bark! I would also heavily increase his exercise and amount of chew toys. Anxiety from pent up puppy energy will certainly make him demand bark because his needs aren't being met and this is the only way he knows how to go about that.

    He's smart- if you aren't proactively running him enough and paying him enough attention BEFORE he's past the point of no control, he knows exactly what works. Your job is to be proactive and give him what a puppy needs before he has to turn to you and remind you himself! :)

    Good luck! I want more pictures! :)
    • Thanks Leann, we're going to go the silent route. I generally abide by the "mama dog" rule of thumb, and treat him the way a pack leader would treat him when we're correcting unwanted behaviors, but he's definitely thrown us off with how defiant he's been with this part of his training. He's picked up so much so fast, we can't help but take it personally when he seems to be picking and choosing which rules he'll follow!

      We'll try to get some pics of him being a good boy =)
  • I had the same problem with Cagney in her early years... he did outgrow it but it was soooo frustrating at the time. He would take off .... would not come near for the life of him ... bark at us like he was talking back... he seemed to drop it all on his own.. I was very worried that he would always be so obstinate but he turned out just fine. I think it is just like a rebellious teen or kid... it should work its way out... just give some diversion...even put him in another room... go inside if you are outside... coax him with a treat to get him into another room ... anything to show your displeasure with his behavior...
  • I will be glad to hear what advice u get. Going thru the same thing. Bama even barks when phone rings or sees one of us coming. I just stop and look very serious and tell him "no bark". I ordered the training DVDs from David dikemans ,maybe it has some help. Let u no. I will be watch for others for answers. Good luck. Earplugs for Christmas!
    • Agreed Heather! I think we're going to start telling him 'no speak' then leaving the room if he doesn't stop almost immediately. We want him to know we disapprove of the barking specifically, and we're not leaving the room because he wants attention. I love giving him attention - but not because he's throwing a tantrum! Good luck with Bama, please stay in touch!
  • First, let me say that Bernie is quite a cute boy. It certainly sounds as though Bernie is doing a wonderful job training both of you to give him attention when he would like it. These doodles are such smart dogs! The problem with grabbing his snout is that, although it might work once or twice, he will start to do everything in his power to avoid your hand coming near his snout and you probably don't want this! You are on the right track in ignoring him when he barks. The problem is if sometimes he is ignored and sometimes he is not, you are in effect working like a slot machine in a casino; sometimes he hits the jackpot so it's worth trying until he gets the reward. If it is too difficult to just ignore him, just get up and leave him alone in the room (go into a room with a door and close the door behind you so that he is shut out). Do not say anything to him, look at him, or in any way acknowledge his presence; just get up and leave the instant he starts barking. You may return in about 10-15 seconds. You may expect his barking to get worse at first (after all it has worked before...perhaps if he just barks a little more you'll react). Persistence and consistency are very important here. If sometimes you leave and sometimes you don't, the barking will persist. Hope this helps.
    • Thanks Sandra. I agree consistency is key, leaving the room is a good idea, it's something we both can do and I think my husband will go for it. Bern has proven to be quite stubborn, so even when we ignore him he'll keep it up for quite some time (seems he likes the sound of his own voice!) and this is when my husband reaches his breaking point, so being out of his sight may help a lot more.
      And thanks for the reminder about the snout. We've used the same technique to teach him to be 'gentle' when playing, to remind him not to mouth us, and it's worked - we do it quite gently - but maybe we should be happy we've gotten it to work for one correction and not push our luck using it for this too, it could backfire and be completely useless if he starts to resent it!
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