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Canine Behavior/Incessant barking


QUESTION: Hi again Jill,

I have yet another dog which I need your help on please.

I am helping a client with a Chi X JRT. I'm getting on fine with different issues in the home and already the client is seeing changes which he is pleased about.  However, although he warned me that the dog barks incessantly I wasn't prepared for the walk that followed (what is it with me getting barky Jacks?! lol).  He pulls terribly on the lead (which normally wouldn't be a problem for me to teach walk to heel, however, ALL the time he is walking he is barking. Obviously at people and dogs but even if there is nothing around.  Because he is well over the stress threshold nothing I do breaks him out of it for a single second so that I can reward it.  I have been doing obedience training and a bit of clicker training in the house for different behaviours but on the walk I wouldn't be able to click even if I did have a behaviour I could mark because he is to stressed to care for a reward.  All I could do on this walk was teach walk to heel with the old methods of stopping when pulling and saying good heel when he stopped at my hip and OK to walk on again and repeat +++ but all the time the barking never stopped.  I have been reading the two books you recommended to me, BAT and Click to calm but need help with barky boy please.
Thank you so much once again.

ANSWER: The dog is responding to being flooded with stimuli: sounds, scents, activities, just about anything.  He may very well have some sort of doggie ADHD.  You might try this, but be prepared for many very long sessions:

Put the dog on long training leash with body harness
The moment the dog starts barking (which might occur as you step out the door!)  stop walking, go to the end of the leash, turn your back.
Now: this dog may persevere and never stop barking, I have NO Idea best guess is, although it may take a long time for the first few sessions, he WILL stop, he WILL look for you.  The moment he stops, click: scoot down to his level with open arms and when he gets to you give him a really juicy treat (string cheese, chicken hot dog bit), get up and say "come along" and continue walking.  The moment he starts barking STOP, go to the end of the leash, turn your back and repeat as suggested above.

If he is being flooded and his cognition is totally impaired (at this point), no matter how long you try this (day in day out, and his owners must DO THE SAME EXACT THING when you are not there), it will not work.  In that case, you need a veterinary behaviorist for a good "look-see" regarding the dog's neurological health and (pretty sure) a prescription.

If he is being flooded but cognition can be reinstated when he realizes you (and his owners) are FAR FROM HIM (at the end of the training leash) and with your backs to him, then persistent treatment of this problem will extinguish it, over time.  Now: this could happen the very first time time you try it (I have extinguished active dog to human on leash aggression in one two hour session), or it may take constant, daily effort on the part of his owners (who absolutely MUST follow your directions: they are doing something that encourages this and rewards this, I have no idea what it is) and a once a week session with you, for weeks, possibly longer (I doubt it, though, if the dog's cognition kicks in and he looks around for his handler).

This dog is not unusual.  I have a neighbor whose Yorkie does the exact same thing.  The only time that dog stops barking is to urinate or defecate.  Obviously, one has to reward this carefully so the dog associates his silence with the reward, rather than his urination or defecation which will only increase his territoriality and need to make his presence known.  Fortunately for me, she doesn't know I live here LOLOL.

Let's try this.  Report back.  Begin in a location where there is the least possible stimuli present (library or school parking lot on a Sunday).  Use followup feature.  OK?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Jill and thank you for your very quick response and helpful at that.

I am seeing this dog again on Tuesday so I shall let you know how I get on. I'm in the UK so as kind as your offer to call is I doubt very much you'll want to call me over here, lol.

I remain hopeful... inside the home in just one session he was very responsive, a really bright little button and seems keen to learn. But, as you say, the barking started the second we stepped out of the front door.  Because (as I said to you in my first email) it is not only the incessant barking but the pulling on the leash I am guessing if I put him on a long line he will just run off ahead til he reaches the end of it.  I am also guessing that even if we turn away he will not even notice. On the one occasion I was able to click whilst out I offered him a really yummy ham-flavoured soft cheese as the treat but he wasn't interested, he had already started barking again so we shall see how the open arms plus treat goes but I WILL do as you suggest and come back to you.

Thank you so much for your time!  Fingers crossed.

Thank you again,

Well as you know as an experienced trainer, a dog that "won't bait" is a dog in emotional distress or on autopilot.  Shorten the training leash so he can't get more than 5 feet away.  plant your feet.  Refuse to move.  Do not acknowledge until he STOPS BARKING, click, squat down, open your arms, offer high value reward.  If he's properly conditioned to the clicker, approximately (maximum) 30 repetitions of this will "connect":  cognition returns as he stops reacting, click/reward for not reacting and not vocalizing, then down the line we can add a cue to that non vocalization and reward it.  Easy fix?  Maybe, maybe not.  You might find yourself standing in that doorway for a very, very long time the first few efforts (and of course, you have to trust the owners to do the same, a tricky thing as we both know).

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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