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Dog barking at only certain people of his choice

January 4th, 2008, 06:38 PM
Hi! I am sure this has been asked a few times but I think my situation is different. My dog skipper (puppy 7 to 10 months) and I and my son live in an apartment he is a small dog perfect for apartments. The problem is that some times he will pick and choose who he is going to bark at. His bark is pretty scary even for a small dog. There are alot of elderly people here and some are complaining about his barking (the super has been here already). We have had this dog in here for a week now I don't know his past history because they found him running the streets in Sudbury.

We have tried the pop can shake he thinks its a toy I have to water bottle ready but by the time I can get to him he has stopped barking so there is no point spraying him cause he won't know what he did wrong. I have tried a mesh muzzle but he has it off by the time we hit the first floor on the elevator. I am now trying the Halti but he still can bark. Please keep in mind I am a single mom and spending $150 for a spray collar seems alittle much.

January 4th, 2008, 07:38 PM
Skipper hasn't been with you long enough to learn what's expected of him - not to mention he also needs time to adjust.
Who is barking at (certain age group? People who react to him?)? Is it prolonged barking or a single bark? Is he fearful, excited or attention seeking? Does he only bark when he sees people (or when he hears them too)??

Apartments are very hard for dogs who are reactive or in the habit of barking because its impossible to set the dog up for success. In the case of attention seeking barking you cannot ignore the dog and for reactive dogs they are always past their threshold.

I don't like using positive punishment because it waits for the dog to offer the wrong behaviour and since barking is self-rewarding it has to be a pretty harsh correction for the dog to stop. Instead, I use positive reinforcement, rewarding the dog for the behaviour I want so that behaviour increases.

A mesh muzzle needs to be introduced slowly and sized correctly. A dog needs to be desensitized to them so they don't try and get out of them. But a muzzle should never come off that easily in the first place. Either way, a muzzle isn't actually addressing the problem - it sounds like your dog will still choose to bark whenever he doesn't have it on. I can see you using it as a short-term tool but it needs to be faded quickly.

You need to work on attention... Without focus you have no control over Skipper. Teach him to watch you instead of his triggers (things he barks at). Some dogs need to start extremely slowly - you may not even get outside your apartment at first. The idea is to wait for calm behaviour/focus - only then do you get his leash/open the door or walk down the hall. Get food and toy rewards together so you always have plenty of reinforcement. Teaching him to carry something in his mouth may help since he cannot bark.
You also need to start a socialization and desensitization process - you want Skipper so familary with his triggers that he feels no need to alert you to them. Depending on why/when he's barking you can have people ignore him while you wait for the opportunity to reward him; if he's barking out of fear you can have people ignore him but toss treats (positive association).
Exercise is also a key to reducing unwanted behaviours - a tired dog is a good dog! Not to mention the extra socialization he will get from increased walks will help move things along.
I'd also find a good positive reinforcement obedience course. The trainer's will have more ideas and it will help you and Skipper bond. You will learn how to read him and how to handle situations (timing and consistency). As Skipper learns basic behaviours his trust and confidence will increase and it will be good socialization for him!

Good Luck!

January 4th, 2008, 08:00 PM
Skipper is a very good dog. He gets praise when he does somethings right especially when we make it in and out without the barking. We went into petsmart today he barked once to make his pressence know lol and that was even though there was alot of people and other dogs there.

I take him out for walks 3 to 4 times a day but he can only walk for so long. He was found wondering the streets of Sudbury on there coldest winter day so we don't know how long he was really out there but when he is out to long he raises his paw and walks on three legs I pick him up and we go in right away. He got a clean bill of health from the vet.

I don't like haveing to resort to the water spray or pop can or the spray collar but I am afraid of losing him if people complain to much.

He barks randomly there is nothing they do to trigger his barking. Its random people any age any race young and old.

I want to put him in training alittle costly but I am hopeing there are other steps I can take to see if they work. I know having a dog takes alot of patience and money. I know I haven't had Skipper and that training doesn't happen over night I see improvement but I am running out ideas that could work.

January 4th, 2008, 10:49 PM
From your post I am assuming he barks when in your arms in the elevator or lobby. If this is the case put him on the ground, a stern no and make him sit. Repeat this and give him a tiny treat when he complies. He looks like a Papillion mix? Really cute by the way. Alot of little dogs are notorious barkers and he might think he's defending you when in your arms from those people who are probably staring at him.:)

January 5th, 2008, 06:05 AM
Hi thank you very much. A lady at my work asked me how I take him out I told her I walk him out she suggested yesterday try carrying him out, so far he has yet to bark at anyone in the building but when I was finishing my smoke outside people walked past him and he barked he was on the ground so far little things are helping.

January 7th, 2008, 09:13 AM
My sister used to live in an apartment with her two rowdy labs. She always, always took them down the stairs (instead of the elevator!) because that would tire them out a bit, so they'd be less likely to bark.

I have mixed feelings about holding dogs. I understand that some dogs feel threatened because humans are bigger then them (and therefore look down on them and assume the dominant role). But on the other hand, I think dogs need to learn that they can't alway be picked up (think muddy paw season ;) )

Good luck!