Canine Behavior/Barking


We have a 7 year old pembroke corgi who has been with us since he was 9 weeks old, he's always been a bit of a barker (like when we leave or if he sees another dog). All of a sudden he's barking more often than not. He barks when we come home, when we leave, if we pick up the other dog (7 year old rescue, new to the family as of this year), if we go in or out of the car, there's noise outside, etc. It's really irritating because it's out of the blue and so shrill/sharp. We've tried giving him treats when he's quiet but I think this has made him associate treats with barking (as soon as he's done barking we'd give him a treat), we tried giving him a toy to take out his aggression on, and we've tried telling him to be quiet. I'm not sure what else to do.

Any suggestions is greatly appreciated,

Well, barking is normal communication for a dog.  YOU HAVE NOW TRAINED YOUR DOG TO BARK (no treat should ever be given unless the dog responds to a low vocal command, such as "quiet" or "ssshhhh" and this takes time and patience).  You know what you're trying to teach but you have to know what your dog is learning!

Your Corgi may have begun over barking because of your new rescue dog.  He is making a statement of social hierarchy and now has a canine "pack member" (is the other dog barking BEFORE or AFTER your Corgi?)  

I want you to try this for the next two weeks even if it is highly inconvenient:  unless your Corgi is barking because of a definitive reason (someone passing, knocking at the door), he is under stress.  If he randomly begins to bark for NO APPARENT REASON, get up immediately and leave the room until he stops; re-enter, ask for "sit", food reward, go on as usual.  This should help the dog to associate that his communication is having the exact reverse effect from its intention: not getting attention but in fact LOSING your presence.  Of course, your other dog will become confused by this.  In a multiple dog household, when treating one dog you are treating all your dogs.  If the other dog follows you out of the room, that's JUST FINE.  In fact, it's good; if he does not, that's ok too.

Take the dog to the vet: let's have a baseline analysis of his hearing and eyesight.  Even at age 7, a dog's eyesight can begin to suffer some wear and tear and that will make a dog more reactive to sounds or "sights" he can't interpret as easily as he used to.  Most of the things he is barking at ("when we come home, when we leave, if we pick up the other dog (7 year old rescue, new to the family as of this year), if we go in or out of the car, there's noise outside,") are normal; barking when you leave the house is stress related.  Are you leaving your two dogs home alone TOGETHER?  Do they have full run of the house?  The Corgi is a work driven dog (a very big dog in a small body) and is, after all, a guarding dog (not merely a herding dog).  When you "pick up" your other dog, you are doing something quite dominant (in the dog culture); your Corgi is objecting either because he perceives it as overtly dominant or requires more certainty regarding his place in your social hierarchy.

Try leaving the room, as suggested; have the dog checked out and share with the veterinarian your concerns.  There is presently a collar that contains a calming pheromone that can be used before you leave the house.  Ultimately, I think you might have to assess "who is who" in temperament between your two dogs and most likely a version of "Nothing In Life Is Free" will be helpful.  Report back using Followup feature.  This means: save the email containing the link to this answer.   When you are ready to respond to any effect your leaving the room has had, or what the vet has determined, go back to that email, follow the link again, scroll down to "Ask A Followup Question."

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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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