The Barking Dog

Barking Dog

Oh Derby! Why do you have so much to say? It figures the speech-language pathologist would get a chatty dog, which is the nice way of saying a “bossy barker.” Derby apparently thinks I need to know when things are different from what he wants or thinks should happen. If someone other than me walks him… he just barks his head off. It’s hard not to think he’s gossiping about me!

He’s a well trained dog, and you can check out my posts on puppy training, adult dog training, and Canine Good Citizen training. He can sit, stay, lay down, come, roll over, get it, drop it, and give high fives all day. He cannot control his need to talk. Clearly he thinks I need advice, and he’s just the dog to give it.

How to Stop a Barking Dog

1. Ignoring

I first tried to ignore the bossy barker. When barking, I would turn my back on him until he was quiet. Then the idea is to reward him with attention and toys when he is quiet. He’s a smart dog. He would just walk around to face me again. Clearly he thought what he had to say was important. I would turn around again. Repeat. Silly dog, and I’m sure he was thinking Silly Human.

2. Teach “Speak”

I tried teaching Derby to “speak” on command. He can do this, but he doesn’t really like it. He prefers to speak when he has something to say. Then I taught “quiet.” This really made no sense to him. He had something to say, and there was no way to say it when “quiet.”

3. Say “No”

I enlisted the help of a personal dog trainer. I can’t have a barking therapy dog! We worked on “no.” This does help if I can get my voice loud and deep enough to over-power whatever story Derby is trying to tell me. Then I say “quiet.” This works if Derby isn’t too invested in whatever he has to talk about. He really wants to please, and he knows that “no” means he should not do something. But… he can only keep it quiet if he didn’t really have much to say anyway. Sometimes he can only keep quiet for 30 seconds, but it’s better than nothing.

4. Citronella Collar

The citronella collar is used in desperation. This… works. He hates it. He won’t say a thing with the collar on. It makes him very sad to even see the collar. I have only used it a handful of times, but it really breaks my heart to put it on him. Dog trainers do not suggest using it.

So I have a “bossy barker.” I’m still going to attempt to take him through the therapy dog training. Derby is only 3 years old, so I’m hoping with diligent training of “no/quiet” on my part and maturity will help. Anyone have any suggestions for a chatty dog? I’m open to trying anything.

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