Min Pin - Chihuahua mix - small dog - big barking issue
Our male MinPin/Chihuahua mix (approx 2 yrs old - about 16lbs) has a barking problem. At home he is normally pretty well behaved, has a love/hate relationship with our 2 cats (which is a funny situation in itself).
Here is the issues:
A) 95% of the time anyone walks by our house he goes nuts! Barks non-stop, hair stands up on his back, throws and shakes toys, or whatever he can get his teeth on. This is 100% of the time when the person has a dog. He just goes crazy if he is outside for a potty break and someone is walking their dog by our house. We will try to run at the other dog, but has only once tried to nip. Also related to this - If he sees a squirrel (he knows what that means), or a cat outside he will paw at the windows to the point where he has damaged 2 or 3 screens for our windows. Sure these can be repaired, but why should I have to constantly dish out $ to do this....
B) If someone comes to the door (pizza delivery, mailman, etc.) he again barks uncontrollably. Guard dog instinct???? He did come through as a good guard dog last summer when some neighbourhood punks decided they would hop our fence and go pool hopping (2 nights in a row in fact) in the middle of the night. Good dog!
C) Biggest issue!!!! If we have friends, or family over (aside from a couple people who he is very used to now), he does the same thing - Non stop barking. It's an issue to the point of not wanting to have friends or family visit or stop by because he won't stop.
We have tried to squirt him with a mister/squirt bottle. Doesn't always work, in fact sometimes we have practically soaked him. Tried - citronella collar - didn't work well at all. Tried - sonic collar - he actually kept barking, totally oblivious to the beeping of the collar. We could here the beeps from the collar, but he kept going.
Other than getting Cesar to my house, or hiring a behaviorist (is that a word?), which we cannot afford, I think last resort is a shock collar. Do these work like they say on the packaging? What is a good one to get for him?
Any other suggestions?
I am pretty sure that the Min Pin - Chihuahua combination is a perfect mixture for lots of barking to begin with.
Good lord, I have the exact same breed mix with the exact same 'issues'. What I have noticed is that Julia's problem is actually fear based and not due to aggression. Though she appears relatively 'secure' she actually is not at all.
The issue with smaller dogs is that having hands on with them are not that easy as they will scurry to avoid any correction. I personally am no longer agile enough to bend down quick enough to correct...impossible.
What I have done however is bring her everywhere possible to get her more comfortable in different conditions and/or scenarios. This has helped tremendously where she is less reactive.
When I have visitors, I point to her crate and she will go in now. She will however bark and when she is calm, I invite her out. She needs to build a report with visitors which means I tell people not to look at her, nor talk to her and especially not to touch her. I ask them to pretend she does not exist. In a few minutes she will approach and react much better than she did (which was to take a bite).
It is work in progress. I will have Julia for 3 years this summer and progress has been slow. My BF who is a certified trainer has made progress with her since we have united our family together..so the improvement has been noticed more so now. Even at that, we still have issues with her in regards to charging dogs outside that are not within her pack.(yes she is leashed). This is something that we are trying to continue to correct as this could be very dangerous for her and the animals within the pack during our walks outside.
I hear your pain, but do not use a shock collar on these dogs. They are very delicate physically and emotionally. This will not fix your issue in fact it will make it worse.
Honestly - I would contact a trainer to evaluate the situation and provide training tips. You may not require a behaviouralist as a good trainer can teach you tricks to divert his attention and also show you how to correct little dogs properly.
well said ben max, i agree big time in the crate, as mine are barkers too, they need maners and to be taught, mine go in the crate when someone comes over and when they can behave they can come out, good luck to you ,brenda and the pins - 1
I am pretty certain after reading an article, and even watching Dog Whisperer, that this is a dominance (pack leader) thing that is causing the behaviours I mentioned. But still it has to stop somehow.
We want to go camping this summer with him, but can't if he does this. Last thing we need is for someone to get nipped, or have complaints about his barking all the time.
[QUOTE=JKC27;983662]I am pretty certain after reading an article, and even watching Dog Whisperer, that this is a dominance (pack leader) thing that is causing the behaviours I mentioned. But still it has to stop somehow.
We want to go camping this summer with him, but can't if he does this. Last thing we need is for someone to get nipped, or have complaints about his barking all the time.[/QUOTE]
There is a very fine line between dominence and other issues. I think you better look more closely at it being possible fear aggression. This can be overlooked very easily as people think that the word 'fear' would mean that the dog is retreating which in some cases ...it is not the case at all.
Maybe a behaviouralist may be a good option afterall in order to find out exactly what type of behaviours your dog is exhibiting. Unless you know alot about body language and what all signs actually mean - then seeking someone on the outside will be beneficial.
If you mis-diagnose exactly what types of behaviours and why this could actually can and will confuse the dog when you are trying to correct or help the dog overcome the behaviour.
Remember - when I say correct...again this is not to insinuate anything physical. Correcting can be done with absolutely no contact.
I just wanted to also add that alot of these collars or devices are band aid fixes that do not always work. Infact, the dog's behaviour can manifest into 'new' undesireable behaviours as a result.
We do have an expert here at Pets whose name is Tenderfoot. She may be able to help you pinpoint what type of behaviour being exhibited and how to remedy it. The most important thing is finding out what the root cause is before it is addressed.
Thanks for the referral, BenMax!
Small dogs can be yappy. They tend to have a bit of a Napoleon complex - they feel the need to make their presence known to everyone who enters their territory.
We are not big fans of calling these kinds of behaviors 'dominant'. It is more a matter of the dogs thinks that they are in charge of the house and that it is their job to alert the pack and the intruder of their presence. The dog is claiming the house as theirs. This is due to lack of structure, rules, boundaries and leadership in the dogs life.
Out of respect for you he should be quiet when you ask, not because he is afraid of a shock collar or spray bottle. This is about reclaiming your home and teaching your dog how to behave.
The first thing we talk about is recess. How much time is this little guy being engaged by you and how much time is he doing his own thing? The more time he spends in recess the more he believes he is in charge of his world and the more his brain is in the habit of being reactive. This kind of behavior is very reactive, often insecure and very adrenalin based. He doesn't even think about what he is doing - its just a knee-jerk reaction.
But if he is in the habit of listening to you because you are engaging his mind frequently throughout the day, then he will listen better when you ask him to stop barking. He will also start to look to you for advice when he is thinking about barking instead of impulsively barking without consideration for you. The more you act like a leader/teacher the more he becomes a student/follower.
Little dogs tend to be higher energy dogs, and each time they impulsively start on a barking rage the more adrenalin enters the brain and the more excited they become. But the more you engage their mind by asking the dog to do lots of things throughout the day the more calming chemicals like Seritonin are released into the brain and the calmer your dog becomes naturally.
We have to run to a training now and will check the board later. Let know us what questions you have.
Thanks for the post Tenderfoot. As always, you are insightful and even just taught me a little something.:thumbs up
What about my theory on fear based behaviour. Do you see any of this in the OP's post? I am asking because alot of what she has written is something that I have been dealing with or rather dealt with in regards to Julia who happens to be the same mix breed.
Very true by the way about the Napoleon complex. I have seen this with many of the tiny breeds that I foster. Great point!
I know that your original question was to Tenderfoot but it sounds to me like a learned fear behavior mixed in with barrier frustration.
Barrier frustration develops when dogs are able to see people or other dogs move steadily in front of them and are unable to interact except by working themselves up through barking. Dogs are uncomfortable with direct fast movement or approach (i.e. a person walking briskly by with their dog) as polite canine body language dictates slow arcing movements with a series of stops and calming signals.
The dog perceives this pair as a threat and begins to alert. They, of course, keep moving by and out of the dog's sight. The dog learns "those folks were scary but I told them to leave and they went away" and this creates a vicious cycle of the dog becoming more and more worked up by seeing people through the window.
This then, understandably, magnifies when those people don't just pass by but actually make it into the house. Using aversive devices will only compound the problem by increasing the fear reaction. Punishing the behavior yourself will similarly have no bearing on your dog's emotional response and any "improvement" will only occur in your presence. The dog will quickly learn that it is only a bad idea when you're around as barking is a self-reinforcing behavior.
Your dog has learned to fear people through the window and strangers entering the house, if you can change their emotional response to these stimuli you will stop the barking.
People at the window:
Start by putting blocking out the windows where the dog can see out. This will help with the stress level and give you full control over what the dog will see. Using rewards, create mock scenarios where you have a friend or family member (one that the dog does not react to) walk slowly by a window and reinforce the non-reaction. *point of note* many small dogs have fairly poor distance eyesight. If your pup is still reacting in this scenario you may have to start by working even closer to the person, maybe even outside, so that they are recognizable.
Work up gradually. Add speed, funny costumes, multiple people, anything to build the complexity. If your dog starts reacting you have gone too far too fast and need to step back a bit.
This isn't perfectly analogous but here is a video on fear barking to sound. The principles are the same.
People in the house:
Many of the same ideas apply. Start by having family members come in and out, or even knock at the door from the inside. You want the dog to have no reaction. I know it seems a bit silly to reward them for something like a knock inside the door by someone they know, but you are conditioning them to have positive feelings towards every aspect of a guest's visit. The idea is that you will gradually build with more casual friends or costumes so that the dog is always comfortable. They will learn that strangers mean good things and that they don't need to protect you or themselves when people come over.
The other thing I would suggest would be to give your dog a job when someone comes in the door. A place command is very useful, as it is an activity that is incompatible with approaching the new arrival.
Again, take it in small steps :)
Think of it like getting over a phobia. If you were afraid of spiders would you rather:
work on it by touching a rubber one for a few weeks to gradually building to the real thing
have someone throw you in a tub of them so you could scream it out.
(and do you think that if someone kept throwing you in and telling you to "trust them, you'll be ok" that you would feel any differently about spiders?)
You want to set your pup up for success so until they are much less reactive I would suggest working on crating and take them upstairs (in advance) in a quiet room whenever you have guests.
Good Luck! :thumbs up
Very interesting millitntanimist! I will personally look into this.
Tons of great info!:thumbs up
Thanks BenMax :)
I hope it is helpful
[QUOTE=millitntanimist;983997]Thanks BenMax :)
I hope it is helpful[/QUOTE]
It certainly is very helpful and maybe the OP may be able to indentify the issues and/or behaviours provided with all that is posted.
So many people have different levels of experience and insight that it is always so welcomed to read different ways of looking at things and different methods to address.:thumbs up
millitntanimist & tenderfoot & BenMax:
Thanks for the insight. As stated in the last post, I will give specific examples of what our little guy is like.
The main issue is incessant barking.... but here it goes.
A) As mentioned, he goes crazy whenever some walks by the window, especially when there is a dog, or if a cat of squirrel is seen outside. He will bark a lot, and I mean a lot. Also hairs on his back will stand up. He usually grabs a toy (or sometimes a shoe), whatever he can get his teeth on and shake it around and sometimes throw it - surprising how hard he can throw things sometimes. He doesn't respond to NO, or a squirt bottle type of correction. I think for a while, my wife would grab him, and hold him and take him away from the window.
B) If my parents come over, or the pizza delivery guy shows up, he will again bark uncontrollably. Again, I could squirt him until he is soaked and it wouldn't phase him.
C) If we have him outside (not in the fenced backyard) for a walk/pee, whatever... if another dog walks by, it is instant - go crazy - bark - try to lunge at the other dog or person. Sometimes he tries to "hide" in the grass once he sees someone approaching from down the sidewalk before he starts his little tirade.
It seems the only time he doesn't "snap" is if he is exhausted from playing with the cats (or a family member who brings there little dog over sometimes), or running around a lot outside.
He isn't alone much (maybe 1 hr per day, at times a couple hours on the weekend).
He gets a fair amount of exercise and interactive time with us. He plays with the cats no problem, and they let him know when they've had enough (that can be quite funny). In winter - he does go outside much to run around, as it's been quite cold and very snowy this year (the snow is deeper than he is tall right now). I think a part of this is the result of him being babied by my wife. Letting him jump up whenever he wants, letting him lick (isn't that an "I own you" type of behaviour), etc.
He is only 2 years old, so I know we can "fix" these things, but it's been hard so far.
Is there any of questions I might be able to answer for our experts here?
We don't mind him barking once in a while, but we can't even talk to the neighbour outside without him going crazy the whole time. If he wants to bark to alert us to the idiots trying to climb our fence to pool hop at 2AM fine, we want that, but the other stuff is so frustrating.
A and C sound like barrier frustration and fear reaction, B is a transfer of that behavior (see above post for solutions). When did this behavior start (especially the barking at people entering the house)?
2 is the age of maturity for most breeds, which often means that this is when dogs become reactive to people or situations that bothered or terrified them as puppies. It also represents a progression. Instead of simply showing avoidance behaviors, they escalate and become pro-actively aggressive (because avoidance behavior did not stop the things that made them upset - they try harder to make them go away).
Your best solution is to change your dog's emotional response to the stimulus - when they are no longer afraid this will stop the barking.
I've had MinPins for years and what I do with mine is a three bark rule, and then I simply thank them for alerting me to the big danger out there and redirect them to something else, sit, down etc. Make it into a game and a job they have done for you. MinPins are notorious for barking and being little guard dogs, so reward your dog for doing so, only three barks! It takes time and work but it can be done.
When the pizza guy comes to my house, they all have to run and sit on the mat, thus they then get a treat, same if someone comes to the door. They are all little piggies and happy to work for treats. Make your little one work. You will be shocked at the difference, water sprays etc is nothing to the stubborn little *******s, BUT being as smart as they are, make it a game and fun, you will love the change in your dog.
MinPins are traditionally a working breed, make his little butt work!!!!
What are the chances introducing a second dog will help him mellow out?
A neighbour has to leave town, and they don't want their one dog anymore. She is a 2 yr old tea cup chihuahua - jack russel mix. I am dead set against having yet another animal (2 cats, plus crazy dog already). I don't see how this would help the situation at all. She is very calm, submissive, doesn't bark much, and is pretty much the same size. NOT FIXED.
As for when the behavior started - pretty much once he reached his full size. I try to treat him like a dog, my wife and daughter try to treat him like another child.
In all honesty unless you learn how to manage the barking and learn to accept some....Teaching your Pin to work and the other posters all have really great tips and insight for you to try.
The only thing you will succeed in doing is increasing your dogs barking because you are adding another pack member to protect.The dog will also teach the chi to bark more! If you are not willing to work extensively with both then don't get another one!Good luck!
Spot on, Rainy :thumbs up
Good advice Rainy.
I have the same breed mix as the OP. I also have a foster shih zsu that would not bark, snarl or growl if his life depended on it....
Now fast forward to 9 months later - the shih learnt undesireable behaviour from the min/chi. We have been working on not one but now two dogs that feed off of one another. Having 5 dogs in total, it takes one little terror to get the whole pack going consisting of dogs from 5 lbs - 155 lbs.
Until you get this behaviour under control, do not bring in another dog. Things will escalate and you may be dealing with 2 dogs with bad behaviour rather than all concentration on one. Take it from someone who knows only too well.
My Chipin Barking!!!!!
I have the exact same problem. He barks at everything & tries to go after other dogs when we take him for a walk. What can be done??? When someone walks by our door he goes Crazy Barking... We live in a APT.
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