Barking when not around me

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Barking when not around me

Postby dougan » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:07 am

My 16 week old Brittany doesn't bark at all at night, and from what we can tell, if we crate him and leave the house, he doesn't bark while we are away.

But if he knows we are around and can't be by us, he barks and won't stop. Some examples:
-Put him at the end of a 20 foot lead and weed my garden about 20 feet away, he won't stop barking
-Put him at the end of a 20 foot lead and then go into the house to grab something, he won't stop barking
-Put him in the crate while we are still in the house-- for example he barked for a half hour when I crated him so we could get ready to go to a wedding.

Is there something I should be doing to stop this behavior? In general, I do not consider him to have separation anxiety. If I crate him and "leave" by going into the backyard, he is very quiet and just fine. He doesn't show any of the other signs of separation anxiety like wetting the crate, shaking, etc. It's just when he knows he can be right next to me but can't. This issue is becoming worse as he gets older, so that is why I am concerned.

Oh, and I'm pretty convinced that he likes the spray bottle. So that is not effective. :)
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Re: Barking when not around me

Postby Barb Wright » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:58 am

It's not a laughing matter to you I am sure, but I had to chuckle when I read your post. You are being scolded for not including him in what you are doing, and I dare say that you are responding in some manner such as speaking to him to "be quiet", rather than totally ignoring him. Any response from you like looking at him, speaking, a gesture of any kind toward him is getting him what he wants, attention. Since there are times when you just can't or do not want to include him in what you are doing you need to find something tantalizing for him to do.....a raw beef knuckle bone will occupy most any dog for quite a while; a Kong filled with peanut butter or kibble will keep his mind and body busy for a while; tether him to you so he can "help", he may soon get bored with that and be more willing to settle. He is still young, but he is manipulating you.....these Britt pups are just too smart and it's a challenge to try to stay even one step ahead of them. Seeing as this seems to be the only issue you have he sounds like he's got a lot of good traits going for him, so just figure out a way to keep him distracted when you don't need his "help". Teaching them to "settle" when you just can't include them is a valuable tool, It is a training matter and will take time and many repetitions to instill, especially since he is still so young. So put on your patience hat and try to work on it a bit each day.

If you need some training tips I am sure some of our members will have some ideas for you, or there are a couple good books to pick up to help guide you. "The Power of Positive Dog Training" and "Positive Perspectives: Love Your Dog Train Your Dog", both by Pat Miller. I highly recommend both these books....positive training methods work wonderfully with the Brittany.

One of the great things about the Brittany is that they do want to be a part of whatever you are doing.....that is what makes them such a super companion dog, a real "can do" dog.
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Re: Barking when not around me

Postby dougan » Sun Jun 08, 2014 4:31 pm

Thanks Barb. It's reassuring to see that this is normal behavior.

I rarely scold him to be quiet when he is in these situations. Once you leave he just barks louder for more attention. If I do scold him, my approach is typically to scold him once and then ignore him instead of repeatedly giving him attention.

He is turning out to be a very good dog in general, like you said, aside from this one thing. Well, he's a biter, but we are working on that one too. :)
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Re: Barking when not around me

Postby Cindy » Mon Jun 09, 2014 3:04 pm

We are at the beach for a week and Layla is a barking fool!! She sounds like she might kill someone if they walk by her along the beach but we know she's just "talking" and expressing her dissatisfaction at being tied up when she could just bust loose and go for a walk with these completel strangers. :roll: We've never had a verbal Brittany before and I must admit, it can be a little annoying. So I will be staying tuned for tips to stop this talking. When we first adopted her she was like this at the dog park but now that she knows everyone she "usually" keeps her mouth shut!!
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Re: Barking when not around me

Postby dougan » Tue Jun 17, 2014 4:15 pm

Unfortunately this issue continues to get worse. We've been doing a lot of work to not make the crate a bad thing, and not to leave him in there too long, so he won't have negative experiences. But in the last couple weeks he's transitioned from being quiet and content when we are not home to barking when we are gone. When he gets crated I will be quiet upon my return home, and listen outside and hear him barking-- he does not hear me arrive in these cases so it means he's been barking without any provocation for who knows how long. We haven't been leaving him in there very long lately, but he had a 3 hour stint in there today and I came home to barking. I can only imagine he was barking on and off for 3 hours straight.

Additionally, he used to not have any trouble getting in the crate, but now whenever we try to get him to go towards the side of the house that has the crate, he resists. He will kennel on command sometimes still, but he is very reluctant.

This behavior happens at any time, including 9pm at night after a day of play and just getting back from the dog park.

We crate him at night when he sleeps, and he is generally OK with this. Aside from that, we dont' really crate him much, and he usually goes in there willingly. So I don't know where this separation anxiety is coming from. It seems like he's already gotten to the point that he hates being left alone so much that when we have him with us for 8 hours, a 15 minute crate session is hell for him because he fears it enough.

Any advice is appreciated. I've done a lot of research and we are doing a LOT of work to try and not make his crate a bad thing. I don't think the crate bothers him, I think it's being left alone.
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Re: Barking when not around me

Postby Barb Wright » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:18 pm

Couple thoughts here......thinking that if it is possible you should set up a web cam to find out just exactly what happens when you are gone. It is pretty hard to sneak up on a dog that is waiting for you....they can hear cars or movement from a long ways away, also, if the situation is right they can smell things great distances. With the web cam info you would know if he does really settle once you leave.

If you are crating him when you are still there (other than the regular nighttime crating) he may be resenting that. I doubt it is fear or even SA, but rather It may just be wanting to be where you all are and be included in what is going on. That would be a typical Brittany trait. He is still such a young pup, and you are dealing with training issues for the most part. For a while I would avoid crating him when you are there, rather find ways to distract him such as with a bone or a Kong filled with treats if you need him to stay out from under foot. Or if possible just tether him to you if possible, that way he is included but not getting into mischief.

Just a note: most dogs with true SA are destructive, because it is really a panic attack. Just barking is more a display of attention seeking and/or just plain discontent with the current situation.

Have you tried a different style crate from what you are using? It matters to some dogs what style crate they are in....some like the "cave" effect of a travel kennel, others prefer the wire and/or X-pen type. You might try to borrow a different type crate just to see if that makes any difference.

He will continue to go through phases as he matures.....most issues are training matters which require lots of time and repetitions to instill. You are dealing with a very bright and personable pup who is smart enough to try to manipulate you...it's an innocent selfishness and as he matures he will adapt to your life style. Just be patient and consistent, the two most important concepts in dog training. Anyone who has raised a Brittany puppy will tell you it's all worth it :)
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Re: Barking when not around me

Postby dougan » Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:51 am

Thanks a ton, Barb. The way you are describing his behavior makes a lot of sense.

I am pretty sure I sneak up on him-- I bike to and from work and my bicycle's pretty quiet, and I hear him before I even get off the bike.

That webcam is a really good idea. I will try that tomorrow, I have to crate him for 3 hours or so while I am at work. Although it'll be pretty rough for me if he is sitting there barking to have to watch it for 3 hours :(

He'll throw temper tantrums and "attack" his crate mat someones when he gets crated, but not really true destructive behavior.

Speaking of mischief, yesterday I gave him his dinner and a big bowl of water and left the room to grab some things. When I came back he had taken it ALL down and looked like a sausage because he was so full. I tried to get him outside becuase by how wide he was, I was sure he was going to puke. I almost got him out but it all came out at once, all over our rug. :) And this is the genius that's successfully manipulating me. :)
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Re: Barking when not around me

Postby britlover » Thu Jun 19, 2014 7:51 pm

Another way to monitor the barking is to get an inexpensive voice recorder that has a voice activation feature. I bought one from either radio shack or best buy years ago, it's digital and can record many hours, but with the voice activation it only records when there is noise. It really comes in handy when I am fostering a new dog and want to monitor their behavior when I go to work for 8+ hours. I can look at the amount of time without even listening to the tape to see what the total elapsed "bark time" was. When I see that the total time is consistently under 5 or 10 minutes over many hours I put the recorder away until the next new dog comes along, or until I want to monitor for special situations like thunderstorms or fireworks.
Good luck!
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Re: Barking when not around me

Postby emily » Sun Jun 22, 2014 7:33 am

hi! my brittnany is ten and has started doing this A LOT since we moved into a new, smaller, neighborhood. hes a house dog too, (just a family pet) so its very annoying. he probably did hear something and is genuinely alarmed! but one of us has to get up off our lazy butts and scold him still. hes gotten better but its still annoying. now he only barks at the doorbell, a loud car down the street, the mailman pulling up is his loud diesel truck at 7 in the morining while im trying to sleep. but hey, you have to train him not to, whatever it is! :D
in our old house, we trained him not to come by the font door when someone was there (sit, stay, at about a 15 foot distance,before answering the door! so cool :lol: , the pizza and chinese delivery guys complimented us, an almost every UPS guy! :) ) which was very, very, hard, (hes curious and it often required turning around and yelling "stay" randomly in the middle of a conversation with someone) and to not go to certain areas of the house, also very very veyrveyrveyryerveyrveyryeyve hard, but he did it! so if you think can train it out of him, you can try!
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