I’m not sure what to do with my rough collie. I understand her need to herd–we often let people walk ahead of us, just so she’s satisfied. Her issue is barking at anything on wheels, but not cars bikes. The vacuum cleaner is her enemy. She growls, and snaps and nips. Even if I’m upstairs and she hears it moving, she goes crazy. The other annoying one is if anyone sneezes! She goes nuts! And squirt bottles/mops! Makes cleaning tough!What techniques do you recommend? Right now, I apologize for sneezing, and I put her in the yard while I vacuum, to remove the stimulus.
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Certain dog breeds bark more than others. In fact, some types of dogs were actually bred to be barkers. This may be so they could alert people about dangers, protect homes, or even scare prey out of hiding for hunters. On the flip side, the Basenji does not bark at all (though the breed can vocalize in other ways).
Demand barking is easiest to extinguish early. The longer a dog successfully demands stuff, the more persistent he’ll be if you try to ignore him. However, ignoring him is the best answer to this behavior. No treats, no attention – not even eye contact. The instant the demand behavior starts, utter a cheerful “Oops!” and turn your back on your dog. When he’s quiet, say, “Quiet, yes!” and return your attention – and treat – to him.
If you are not sure what your dog is barking at or if he seems to be barking at everything, keep a bark diary. You may start to see a pattern, for example he barks at 3pm when kids are getting out of school. It might be useful to ask your neighbours to do this also, so you know when he is barking when you are not home. Your neighbours also then know you are attempting to resolve the problem.
Each type of barking serves a distinct function for a dog, and if he’s repeatedly rewarded for his barking—in other words, if it gets him what he wants—he can learn to use barking to his benefit. For example, dogs who successfully bark for attention often go on to bark for other things, like food, play and walks. For this reason, it’s important to train your dog to be quiet on cue so that you can stop his attention-related barking and teach him to do another behavior instead—like sit or down—to get what he wants.
If things like other dogs or people are your pet’s trigger, you need to expose them to these stressors. Again, reward them with treats when they are behaving, and let them know that barking means no attention or tasty food.
Try to agree on a concrete solution. Rather than expecting your neighbor to put a stop to all barking, it might be more feasible to agree on a practical solution that works for both of you. Here are a few solutions that might apply; you can adapt them to your situation as necessary:
NILF stands for nothing in life is free and should be a way of life for most dogs and definitely if you are having any issues with your dog. Basically the dog is on a work to earn program and has to do something to get stuff. You should be your dog’s benevolent leader. NILF will help you get there.
If your dog is barking due to stress, fear, or anxiety, consult with a qualified professional behavior counselor who uses positive modification methods, and try to manage your dog’s environment to minimize his exposure to stressors while you work on a program to counter-condition and desensitize him.