- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Dog Behavior Help? *I'm new here*

June 22nd, 2011, 11:56 AM
Hello everyone,

I'm new here and I really, really need some help. I'll describe the entire situation as best I can, hopefully someone has some insight that I'm just not seeing. It's going to be a long post, so bear with me please :)

Four years ago we brought home a cute, cuddly, black and white pomeranian puppy we named Abby. We introduced her to the five cats living with us and they accepted her and treated her like part of the "pride." Since then our home has merged into a pride/pack (depending on the animal's point of view I suppose.)

Abby is a sweet, good natured dog. She doesn't bite and is not aggressive in the least.

The problem we are having with her, and have been trying to deal with since she was about 6 months old is the constant barking and not listening to commands.

I am guessing that the constant barking is demand barking because she does it whenever she wants something. However, if I tell her to go to her pillow (a doggy bed in the living room) to wait for me to get/do what she wants, she refuses to go to it and continues barking at me. The point of the pillow, I should explain, is for her to go to it, sit quietly and wait while I act on getting her food or whatever. Basically I'm trying to train her that quiet and calm gets you what you want. It worked for about a month before she started defying me when I would tell her to go to it. I never once let her get away with not going to the pillow before she got food, a toy, or potty, she just reverted back to standing in front of my chair and barking at me non-stop.

If I ignore the barking (which I usually do) and repeat the command "go to your pillow" she barks louder, runs to the kitchen floor, turns around, and bolts toward my chair and launches herself at the footrest and tears/bounces herself off of it.

This is the most extreme example of how she refuses to listen to commands. There are others such as "sit" and "stay" that she refuses to do, and instead just barks at me without stopping.

I've worked with her and tried to train her to wait quietly for something by reinforcing the quiet times with the reward. If I have to correct her, I spray her with water from a water bottle because I don't believe in spanking. We've even bought a collar that sprays her with lemon water when she barks to try and curb the constant noise a bit, but I only put it on her as an absolute last resort. In fact, I detest using it.

In addition to the constant training with Abby, I take her for walks, on the walks I don't let her walk in front of me in a dominant way, I praise her when she's good, I play with her when she's quiet, and basically try to reward the good behavior. I love my dog and I want to do right by her.

I'm willing to try anything to try and get her to make the connection that quiet = good things.

I would appreciate any insight into the situation that anyone could give me. Thank you.


June 22nd, 2011, 10:42 PM
Welcome to the forum, we would love to see pics if you have some to share.

Are you sure Abby actually hears you when you talk to her? Does she respond by looking at you, a head tilt, coming when called etc when spoken to? If not has she been tested for deafness?

One key thing in teaching a new behaviour/command is to ensure the dog understands what you are asking of them. Often you need to start with smaller steps and work your way up.

To this end the first thing I would do is change the words you use to tell her to go to her pillow, the phrase you are using now is not having the desired effect. So when you start over to re-teach her what you want, using a different word/phrase may help her understand better & not just tune it out/elicit the current behaviour.

Hopefully someone w/more experience will be along shortly to give you some guidance.

June 23rd, 2011, 09:12 AM
I think I would drop the 'go to your pillow part of it'. It seems like if she barks, you respond by doing something (meaning I bark something happens). I would just implement my routine (feeding, bathroom, walk time, play time etc..) on a consistent routine (as much as possible; I realize life is not 100% scheduled) and try not to give any reaction to her barking. And when we do start one of those activities. for example feeding, I would just stand with the bowl in my hands, if she was barking, and patiently wait for the barking to subside (they do tire themselves out barking) and the instant it subsides drop the food. Same as the walk, I would pick up the leash, if any excitement starts, I would just stand patiently for the excitement to stop, and the instant it does, say 'good job' and put on the leash. I know you said you ignore; I wouldn't exactly ignore; I would give her my full attention; By standing, facing her squarely, and looking at her; If it was just random (we are not going for a walk or whatever), I would wait 'patiently', not frustrated or angry, and wait for it to subside and then treat the instant it does. I think its just clearly communicating what you want. Basically I have implemented that with my dogs, (I only do things when they are calm), and I try not to use any voice b/c it ads to the excitement; I just stand there and wait, till I get the state of mind that I want ; which is relaxed calm submisstion to the activity. I will let you know that I do not really have barking high energy dogs so I am sure your wait is longer than mine - English Bulldogs :)

June 23rd, 2011, 09:18 AM
can I ask how much exercise your dog gets?.....he may be little, but has a great store of energy that sounds like it has to be burnt off

June 23rd, 2011, 10:02 AM
[QUOTE=growler~GateKeeper;1015041]Welcome to the forum, we would love to see pics if you have some to share.

Are you sure Abby actually hears you when you talk to her? Does she respond by looking at you, a head tilt, coming when called etc when spoken to? If not has she been tested for deafness?

I would be happy to share pictures, but I'm not sure how to do that...

Yes, Abby hears me. We talk to her all the time and she does the head tilt, comes when you call her, etc. She's a very healthy dog :)

June 23rd, 2011, 10:19 AM
I would be happy to share pictures, but I'm not sure how to do that...

Hi ALC and welcome!

Normally newbies have to wait a day or two to post pics, but I have some pull here ;) and just clicked a setting for you. It should work today (perhaps and probably now) but for sure by tomorrow.

To attach a pic by direct upload just click manage attachments when posting a new thread. Then choose the file from your computer but know that the file needs to be about 150k or less.

Hope that helps!

June 23rd, 2011, 11:07 AM

Thank you! That is good advice. She will listen to the command sometimes, but I'm sure I'm just not doing something right to get her to make the connection. I will definitely try your suggestions!

I take Abby for a walk with me nearly every day (there are some days when I can't do it, of course) and since it's also exercise for me, we usually go for a mile or two in the woods or around town where we live, sometimes we job for a little while together. She loves every minute of it too :)
Hopefully someone w/more experience will be along shortly to give you some guidance.[/QUOTE]

June 23rd, 2011, 11:08 AM
Thank you Marko, I'll go and do that right now :)

June 23rd, 2011, 11:32 AM
Here is a picture of Abby. I'll put some more up later :)

June 23rd, 2011, 11:33 AM
Wow, that's huge! I didn't realize it would be so big lol I thought it was a small picture!

June 23rd, 2011, 04:34 PM
It sounds like your training is inconsistent.

You are either not rewarding enough or not rewarding at the right time.

Stop everything and give her a break (vacation from all training for about 1 week) then re-train using a clicker. -great video.

I see this alot with clients who reward at the wrong time, or not rewarding enough. The dog is confused.

Keep everything the same, the verbal commands and hand signals.

June 23rd, 2011, 10:05 PM

I've had other people tell me to use a clicker but I have no experience with one. The dog we had before Abby didn't need a clicker to be trained. My dad did all the training, though, and he has passed on as well. I've kind of been thrown into this with no idea what I'm doing.

I'll watch the video and see if I can get a clicker. I figured I just wasn't rewarding her at the right time, but I'm not sure when the right time is. *sigh* I'm just overwhelmed by it right now...

June 23rd, 2011, 10:14 PM
:lightbulb:i had the same problem with my dog i found out that a dog thinks of them self as the leader of the family so to keep your dog from behaveing this way you have to show them that you are the boss and not the other way around and using a clicker can sometimes just annoy the animal and make them more aggregated

June 23rd, 2011, 10:50 PM
Thanks Kameron, thank you everyone!

I'm going to make sure I'm rewarding her at the right time and I'm going to see how much clickers are, so we can get one. Hopefully this will help curb the behavior. She is such a sweet dog, I just want to teach her some "manners" as we call it in our house, lol

June 24th, 2011, 09:14 AM
I love clickers, they make it easier for the dog because they make a really consistent sound, but they are just a way to mark behavior.
You can just as easily use a "YES" or a "YEAH" . . . or "BANANA" for that matter, it's all just sounds to the dog anyway. It needs to be something you don't usually say to your dog so you don't accidentally reward the wrong behavior, and you need to get your timing down (although, you need your timing down either way.).
Think of your marker like a camera. When you mark a behavior, it's like taking a snapshot. You are saying "this behavior, right this second, is what I want."
I've heard someone suggest (and I think it's a great idea :thumbs up) watching a favorite T.V. show and picking a word you know will appear frequently. When you hear the word, mark it. This will help you hone your timing.
No barking is a tough skill for a Pomeranian, it's what they were bred for ;)
I agree with 2Greatbulldogs and would suggest going one step further. When your dog is barking for attention you can always remove yourself, the source of attention, for a few seconds and wait for quiet (just go into another room where the dog can't follow). If the dog is barking for attention from another person in the house, you can always gently lead them into another room (again, just for a few seconds until the barking stops). As soon as they stop, they get rewarded with what they want: attention.
Don't worry if it takes a few repetitions of you coming and going for them to stop the barking, it takes time. Barking is a very hard behavior to change because it is also self-rewarding, you need to be consistent and teach the dog that they never get what they want while they are barking. Then the behavior will extinguish itself (though, your pom will always bark at something).
One more suggestion, and this will be one for when you start doing more training, is putting a "speak" and a "quiet" on cue. Many people assume that a dog understands a "be quiet!" when they have never been trained but my experience is that this just acts as an interrupter and only stops the dog for a few seconds.

Also, forgive me but I have never seen a dog become more aggravated by a clicker :P They sometimes get frustrated when they aren't quite sure what you want, but that is usually just a matter of going back a step so they can succeed again.

June 24th, 2011, 10:25 PM
No barking is a tough skill for a Pomeranian, it's what they were bred for ;)

I don't expect her to stop barking altogher, I just want her to dial it back a little bit lol. This is an excessive barking behavior. I've sat there and tried to ignore her barking for over an hour and she wouldn't let up, no exaggerating. She wanted up on my lap and I wouldn't reward the barking with my lap, so my ears paid the price.

She also loves to bark when she goes outside to go potty, even if it's after midnight. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but we have neighbors that complain about barking dogs, so I try to keep the barking in check when she's out of doors if I can.

Those are all good suggestions from everyone. I might ask a friend of mine who uses a clicker to help me out in person...