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Canine Behavior/Barking Dog

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Question
Hello,
I have a well behaved 7 month old lab/rottweiler mix. She is easily trainable and picking up commands really well. She loves all animals, and loves people.
Recently, she has decided to learn to bark. We have a large backyard which is fenced in. We also live across from a grade 7/8 school. During the start and end of school, as you expect, there are many parents, kids, teachers, etc outside, in vehicles, running around. My dog has decided that these are people she should bark at. She has never barked at people before, and she is not aggressive, just wants to say hi.
I have read that removing her from the situation is the best way to stop the barking, but I dont really want to bring her inside around the school schedule. I also do not wish to use a barking collar on her, since she is such a well behaved dog and she picks up well to positive reinforcement and not correction.
Are there any other solutions you could advise to me, to help me with my issue at hand.
Thanks you very much
Crystal and Sophia

Answer
Hi Crystal and Sophia -

I am sorry that you are having trouble with your dog.  Barking can be a difficult situation to deal with.  There are different types of barking - Request, Fear, Alarm, and Boredom to name a few.  It sounds as though your dog is not only maturing into an adult, but finding her "voice."  It is hard for me to decipher what type of barking your pup is doing since I cannot observer her but it sounds like it's either Alarm - hey mom, there's people outside our house or a "hey, I'm over here, hey!!" attention seeking kind of bark.
The best thing you can do if you do not want to remove her from the stimulus (school traffic) is to redirect her sttention onto something else and praise her for ignoring the kids and not barking.  Example - barking at school traffic, you redirect her onto a toy and praise her for making the right choice.
Other things to consider: removing her from the stimulus- changing her schedule so she can be inside during her most vocal times, taking her for a walk at that time so she is not in the yard barking etc.
Sometimes removing the visual stimulus is enough to curb the dog's barking.  Is your fence solid or see through?  If it's see through you can try hanging some type of panel to block your dog's view of the school.  I recommend doing this on the outside of the fence so your pup can't get to it.  Make sure it is secure so she can't pull it through the links or try plywood or cardboard.  If this cures the barking you can put up something more visually appealing afterward.
Hopefully if you haven't already, you will be getting her spayed soon.  This can also help with barking, especially if it's territorial based.  I have included a link to an article below that has some tips on barking.  Good-luck.

http://www.animalbehaviorcollege.com/press_release_details.asp?articleid=71

Canine Behavior

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Jennifer Ganser, LMT, ABCDT

Expertise

For canines I can answer questions related to behavior, obedience training, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) For equines I can answer questions related to behavior, barn management, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) I am not a veterinarian and it is not within my scope of practice as a licensed massage therapist or certified dog trainer to diagnose health conditions. Please contact your pet's veterinarian for illness related questions and emergencies.

Experience

I am a licensed massage therapist for people, horses, and dogs and a certified dog trainer. I teach group obedience classes as well as private lessons. I also work with horses and help barns establish good management practices.

Organizations
Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) National Certification Board of Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)

Education/Credentials
2009 - graduate of Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy 2010 - certified in canine/feline first aid + CPR by Red Cross 2012 - graduate of Post University equine program 2012 - graduate of Animal Behavior College Obedience program

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