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Stop barking at other dogs.

Species: Dog
Breed: Collie
Age: 2-5 years
hello

when my dog is in the yard, she will bark at other dogs passing. she is a nervous dog and scared of everything. I try to associate something good with another dog passing like a treat but before I can give her the treat she is already running and barking at the dog as it passes. I do not want to use a bark collar or leash corrections. what can I do?

thanks


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This is a very tough question to answer and I'm not sure that I can solve your problem over the internet like this. But I'll give you some of my thoughts.

First of all, when a dog has a habit of barking at things (dogs, people, etc) it is an extremely difficult behavior to break because it is very self rewarding. Imagine, if we had no concept of social skills how great it would feel to be able to just yell at people whenever we wanted. There is a huge endorphine rush and then, when the dog finally passes your house there is a reward because essentially the dog is thinking, "YEAH! I yelled at him to go and then he went! I did my job!"

So, to solve this problem you will need very intensive training. If I was leading a training program like this it would start out with steps like this:



-Start by seeing if you can teach the dog to bark on command. I know it seems weird. But, it will be easier to teach her not to bark if you can teach her to bark to start with. So, to do so, get her really worked up and when she barks say, "Good bark!" and give her a treat. Then try again saying, "Bark Lilly!" and when she barks give her a treat and say, "Good bark."

-Once you've got her barking on command then teach her to bark repeatedly. So, you say bark! And when she barks say bark again! Reward her for barking. I know it seems counterintuitive, but again, you won't be able to teach her to stop barking unless you can repeatedly teach her this.

-Once you've got her barking on command then teach her the command "quiet". The idea here is that you say, "BARK!" and she repeatedly barks and then you say, "Quiet!" and once she stops say, "Good quiet" and give her a treat. You will need to repeat this a lot of times for her to get the idea.

-Once you feel she really has it then start doing the training in the yard.

-Once she's got that then enlist the help of a friend with a dog. Start off with no dog in sight. Do a few rounds of "Bark" and "Quiet". Then have your friend walk by with the dog and continue to do "Bark and Quiet". Don't get upset at her and don't tell her off if she doesn't do quiet well. But if she doesn't go quiet then no treat. You will need to have your friend and the dog walk by many many times over several days in order to accomplish this.

It's hard work, but there is no easy solution to this problem. I am not a fan of bark collars or other similar methods.

If you feel she is very anxious and this is contributing to the problem then you can talk to your vet about using an antianxiety medication such as Reconcile.

I hope that helps!

Dr. Marie


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.