These are random musings of my life journey, the people, animals, places, and events which have woven, and continue to weave, a tapestry that is me. We all know there is no real destination, only the ongoing experiences which blend together, creating the trail. Each step gives a glimpse of what is to come, without allowing me to see the end result. It is exciting. I have a home base that is mine, that gives me a place to rest. This is it. This is where my heart is, no matter where I journey...................

Saturday, December 18, 2010


We've been working on a new set of control commands in our house. OK, to be honest, I'm working on it, and the dogs are, well, being dogs. I think they've tried hard to ignore me, but they just can't,  because I'm devilishly persistent! And in spite of their resistance, I believe they are getting it, by jove!

The new command?  "NO BARK!"

They all have such a bad habit of barking. It began with them barking at the deer. Then barking at the birds. Then barking at the leaves. Then barking at the wind. Then barking at apparently nothing. Over the months, as their other behaviors improved, it seems that their energies turned to that one category, and it was driving me up a wall. I don't mind a bit if they let me know "Stranger on premises!" That's a good thing. But when they are barking for no recognizable purpose, it is time to retrain.

There are several problems: (1) when the barking is frequent and doesn't stop, I can't tell when there is a true alarm; (2) once they start barking, it seems they continue just to be doing something, not knowing when to stop; (3) when one barks, the rest feel they have to join in, like a one-upsmanship free for all; (4) they are often barking at nothing that I can discern, so it just noise; (5) IT'S IRRITATING!

So a couple weeks ago, I began anticipating, as well as I could, when they would bark. If one dog was outside and barked, I knew at least some of the others would rush out to "help." As soon as they stirred, I began saying sternly, "NO BARK!" At first, they paid no attention, so I followed outside, ordered them in repeating "No bark," the whole way. I've become quicker to intervene and they've become more responsive, so that at this time if I say "no bark" as they go out the doggy door, they usually don't bark, but just turn around and come back in. When there is actually a deer or a roaming dog in the area, they do continue, so at least there s a reason. But if it is deer, I bring the dogs back in. If it is another dog, I let them bark; I want to know if there is a trespasser, two legged or four legged.

In the evening, I sometimes have to close the doggy door, because their barking seems worse and they pay less attention to my commands. I'm sure that is when the deer and other forest denizens are moving around out there, and they are stirred by those sounds. I still don't want them to bark without restraint, even if there are critters. I hope they begin to understand that deer are not something that needs barked at. The deer ignore them, anyway! C'mon, guys! Save the barking for the coyotes or the wild cats!

Anyway, I've noticed in the last few days that their body signals are already changing as they start toward the door. They jump up and begin running, but often, they slow down before the words "no bark" can get out of my mouth! They know I'm gonna tell them to hush, so they are responding to the training without my command! I'm psyched!!!!

Times like this, when I realize my work is showing results, are the best.

I also read some old entries about Sammy when I brought him home. He was the first to be rescued and the most emotionally damaged. Wow, what a challenge he was, but such an adorable little guy that he was worth every moment of the work.  I'm so glad I have him. The others, also, of course, but Sam .... a special place in my heart for his journey and for just what a special boy he really is.  :)

I'm a happy puppy momma!


  1. I remember working with my first lab about nighttime barking and running in the woods.

    Craig insisted that he spend the night outside, so of course she would take off after deer etc.

    Standing on the deck and yelling at her did no good.

    I soon learned she had to be tied up to her dog loo (on the deck) at night to keep her under control. Once I stopped yelling at her when I couldn't enforce it the problem stopped.

    She was only tied up when we all went to bed at night. It was time for her to be in her dog loo too.

    Eventually I was able to convince him the dog needed to be indoors at night. By then she had taken over her very own family room couch.

    Additional dogs never were kept outside at night.

  2. It's really hard to stop a barker. IMO, it is the hardest behavioral change to extinguish. I think it is just their nature, at least many of them. My Lolita is part terrier, and she is certainly vocal! She is actually doing well, the worst barker and the first one to be trained pretty well on not barking.

    If these were outside dogs, I don't have any idea how I would train them!

  3. We have trouble with deer too. Our command for Misty to stop barking is to quietly say Shhhh with finger to mouth and then to say thank you. Does it work?Not always. You have a much harder job, hope it keeps working.

  4. That's interesting, Freda, because I've used that (Shhh and finger to the mouth), too, and it works part of the time. However the "no bark" seems to click for them, and it works about 80-90% of the time. I'll take anything that works!

  5. I hope that I can remember this come spring. I can't leave my door or window open without the dogs barking at EVERYTHING and sometimes what appears to be NOTHING!!! It gets so irritating that we end up having to close the door. It's constant. They are fine unless the door or the window is open. Then it's a free for all! I must give this a try. Glad that it's finally working for you Lyn.
    Love Di ♥

  6. Di, I'll try to remind you, but .... that's as tricky as training dogs!!

    It's important that when you start it, you physically move them away from the door, and perhaps even close the door for a couple minutes, then try opening it again. It only took a few times of that for them to begin "getting it."

    I'm so glad they caught on! As a matter of fact, Lola went tearing out the front doggy door a few minutes ago and began barking on the deck. I knocked on the window and said "no bark," and now she is sitting out there, just looking around. shhhhhhh! Don't tell her it is working!

  7. I was at a park the other day and I watched this boy around 8 yrs old. His mother left him with a spray bottle filled with water, two small dogs, and his (I think) younger brother. Everytime the dogs would bark the 8 yr old would spray them with water and yell no bark. He did this three of four times and the dogs would stop barking. Then he got bored and sprayed his brother and when his brother started crying he sprayed him again and yelled no crying. That brought mama back from wherever she was.

  8. The squirt bottle is a good idea. I used to have to use that when we lived in the house in KC with Sophie. She would sit by the back door and anytime anything moved outside she would bark. I am happy now because there is very littel for her to bark at now.

    You are such a good Mama.

  9. CATS repond much better to control commands. I have NEVER had a cat disobey my commands. They are much more self sufficient.
    Happy Holidays!

  10. Pepper, I use the squirt bottle to curb their aggressive behaviors. Mostly Max and Sam, when the begin circling each other and growling, they get squirts. They d.o n.o.t like it!!I like the verbal command for this, because I don't have to chase them to the deck to squirt the, just say "no bark." Much easier.

    Caroline, awww, thank you. I try to be a good one. :)

    comedyrocks, uhhh, yeah. I need to know your secret. LOL!

  11. I dont understand how they will know the difference between a deer and another animal that they can bark at to alert Mom in the house that someone/something lurks.

  12. I don't know that they will, Ruth, but I'm hoping that they will generalize what they do with humans now .... if someone comes around, they bark; when the person gets close and they recognize them, the barking turns to happy yipping until they come into the house, and then it is usually quiet; if the person doesn't come into the house (stands on the steps or on the deck, but outside the house itself), they continue to bark with warning. I'm hoping that they recognize the usual "hanger-outers" amongst the deer in that way, too.

    Am I asking too much? ;D

  13. UMMMMMMMMMMMM yes Ma'm I think so LOL but good luck anyway LOL


If you have something to say about it, just stick out your thumb, and I'll slow down so you can hop aboard! But hang on, 'cause I'm movin' on down the road!!! No time to waste!!!