Dog Training/barking

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Question
We have a 2 year old Lab/Springer Spaniel mix, (Zoee)  At home she's very quite. Just barks at some people when they walk by and does not over do it. She has two dog friends she runs off leash with ( in a fenced area) When they play together Zoee backs contenusly at the other dog.  The other dogs don't bark back.  They play great together and it's good exercise.  How do I get her to stop barking? When there playing at some points they could be up to a 1/2 to a whole football field away from us. She get's several walks a day.  Never barks on any of those.
It's very annoying to me and I'm sure the other dogs also.
How do I disipline her to stop barking?
Thanks for your help.

Answer
Some dogs are more vocal than others and it sounds like your dog is barking mostly during playtime, and that isn't unusual. Barking is a common dog behavior and there are a number of reasons why dogs bark. With your dog running and playing away from you it would be challenging to train for a quieter play behavior.

Getting your dog to bark less takes time, effort, practice, and most importantly, consistency. There is no instant cure, but with time you will see progress. I have found it simpler to teach dogs what "QUIET" means and remember that yelling at your dog just makes her think you are joining in the barking party.

Here are two methods one teaches quiet and one teaches speak. You'll need to start with the dog close to you and than add distance as the dog moves farther away from you.

When your dog is barking, say “Quiet” in a calm, firm voice (like you would use at work). Wait until she stops barking, even if it’s just to take a breath, then praise her (I like the word "YES") and give her a treat. Be really careful to only reward when she is quiet -- that's the consistency part. Never reward her while she’s barking since she already is really good at that activity. Eventually she will figure out that if she stops barking at the word “quiet” she gets a treat. Be sure it is a great treat like cheese, small bits of chicken/lamb/beef so it is more worth being quiet than barking.  

The other option is teaching your dog to "speak" and when she’s doing that reliably, give herm a signal to stop barking with a different command, such as “quiet”, while holding your finger to your lips in the shhh-style. Remember dogs often pick up body signals faster than voice commands so the visual of your finger to your lips is often helpful. Practice these commands when she’s calm, and like the quiet command above, in time she should learn to stop barking when you tell her "quiet" -- even when she wants to bark at something.


Give these two techniques a try and let me know how it goes and if you have additional questions.

Good Luck!

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Kathleen A. Riley-Daniels

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I am known for my originality, creativity and flexibility in dog training, and I specialize in everything from training and handling skills to behavior challenges. All breeds, personalities and skill levels are welcomed including handlers and/or dogs with physical limitations. I encourages students to work outside their comfort zone for enhanced learning and utilizing skills that best fit the needs of each team. Keeping the focus on fun, play and praise. My enthusiasm for training is contagious and all efforts of both dog and handler are rewarded. If you are looking for assistance in house training or other training areas, please visit my web site or blog first and see if the information there is helpful to you: http://www.outlawchinooks.com/ or http://RileyTrainingCenter.blogspot.com or YouTube Channel http://bit.ly/bhTHTb

Experience

I have trained and participated in many canine performance events including obedience, rally obedience, field, herding, tracking, conformation, weight pull, training and judging 4-H, assistance dog training and wrangling for movies. I teach private and group lessons, workshops, seminars, camps, lecture internationally and have written award winning articles for numerous publications. I was voted one of the Twin Cities Top Dog Trainers by the readers of Twin City Tails Magazine, I am a certified in Animal Nutrition, Animal Training and Behavior and am an evaluator for the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen program.

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Various local, regional and national breed clubs.

Publications
Have worked as an editor, on staff and as a volunteer on a variety of community, local, regional, national and international publications.

Education/Credentials
College degree and life-long learning with multiple certifications in training, behavior, nutrition and education. I am a life-long learner and I accentuate the positive for both dogs and handlers and my training methods are specifically designed to bring teams to their full potential by customizing training plans and focusing on training exercises that best benefit each individual team.

Awards and Honors
Voted one of the top trainers in the Twin Cities.

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