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Bark, Bark, Bark--HELP!

by cathy brown

My little rescue baby, Carty, is a barker. He barks in the house, out of the house, at dogs, at cats, at anyone passing by. When we are on a walk, he barks and barks and barks at any other dog and the occasional cat he sees, near or far. Nothing, so far, has seemed to stop him (it's been 2 wk). He doesn't respond to NO (although this works for most everything else), or SHHHH, or QUIET. I have also tried the combination of no bark and a leash tug. And I have tried just stooping down, petting him calmly while telling him "it's okay," in case he is simply feeling threatened. Nothing deters him. Worse, Lucy never barked much, and now she joins Carty in a doggy concert--and she won't stop either. Does anyone have any behavior mod suggestions for this little guy? He's a real sweetheart in every other way, but the barking is making me (and half my neighborhood) nuts. It is especially distracting when I am on the phone with a client and he is downstairs barking away at the top of his lungs--I can't hear and the client want's to know what's up--not so professional. I am sure that if I get the right combination of ingredients here, we can resolve this problem because he's very eager to be a good boy. I'd appreciate help from any of you who have found the magic bullet! Thanks.


Please bear in mind when reading topics pertaining to health issues, that many of these questions were answered by helpful Maltese owners with no formal education in veterinarian medicine. When in doubt seek a professionals advise.

When training in obedience we were told several methods to discourage barking. Use a squrit gun to squirt the barker and shout the dogs name and "NO BARK" was one. I do find this one hard on show coats however. Another was to fill several empty pop cans with about 15 pennies and seal over with tape. When the dogs are barking you pitch the can as close to the dog or dogs as possible without hitting the dog and shout the name and "NO BARK". This one is helpful when they are out in the yard.

I can relate. Ironically, my little buy's registered name is Sir Charles Barkley!!! I have solved the problem though; I hope this works for you. Barkley and I went to obedience school when I first got him. The instructor told me that following these steps in order is important and you must be consistent. First, sternly tell your dog "Quiet". If the barking continues, walk over to him/her and sternly repeat "Quiet" while holding his/her nose and mouth. If that doesn't work, repeat this and sligjhtly shake the nose. If all else fails, squirt a small amount of bittersweet (they sell it in pet stores) into your pet's mouth while saying "Quiet". They hate the taste. I only had to squirt Barkley a couple of times. Now I just say "Do you want me to get the spray?" and he stops. My family thinks it's a riot that I merely show him the bottle (still nearly full after 2 years) and he's quiet. This product also works if your dog chews rugs, etc. Just a little squirt on your rug and they'll stay away!

I also belive in the pennies in a can, However I did not throw the can at my Fergie, I did just enough to make noise with it. In a few days he stopped. This works great! Good luck!

I use a super soaker squirt gun and squirt the barker in the face and shout "No Bark!" All I have to do anymore is pick up the squirt gun and the barking stopps immediately. I differentiate between warning barking--someone at the door--and nuisance barking--barking just to bark.

If you aim for the face, it shouldn't damage show coats. I have four in show coats and their coats are just fine--and people can hear themselves think (and neighbors have NO reason to complain.) It even works on our German Shorthaired Pointer, who runs into her doghouse and peaks out to see if I have put the squirt gun away (:)
-Linda (Snow Angel)

Hi! I started out choosing the words I would use to mean to stop barking. I chose "NO BARK!" I use these words only and no others when I expect them to mind. Then after saying "NO BARK!" and being ignored I squirted a drop of bitter apple spray on my finger and put it in Tucker's mouth. It only takes a drop. Too much- such as a full squirt into the mouth results in the dog throwing up. I only had to do this twice and now he knows. I also have a squirt bottle of distilled water to spray at him if he is just a little bit testy with me. I don't know why I have this distilled water also. It is more of a playful warning but all I have to do is show him the bitter apple bottle and he shuts right up.
-Donna Skaggs

Hi, I also do what Valerie does. My breeder suggested a broom. And I say, "Do you want me to get the Brooooom!!!?" It sure is persistance.......as when someone is in the yard or porch...they must tell me. However, it is quite wonderful right now with no delivery men, as they are on strike... My husband gets several deliveries a week.....and it usually is a race here for me to get to the broom before the delivery guy rings the doorbell !!
-Bel and the m & m girls

Cathy, when I used to teach obedience what we would do with a problem barker was to teach the dog to bark on command. By instructing your Maltese to bark, its much easier to teach "shush" (because the dog didn't really want to bark in the first place). Now we have a 2nd problem! How on earth do you teach your dog to bark on command?? Here's how......

The success of this requires you to use a lure to prompt your Maltese to bark at the appropriate moment. The doorbell ringing or another dog walking by will prompt most dogs to bark so let's work with the doorbell. Station a helper outside your frontdoor to ring the doorbell whenever you instruct your Maltese to bark. Ask your Maltese to "speak" and when he barks, precipitated by the doorbell, praise him. Be enthusiatic: maybe bark along with him ;-) . Since he has probably never been praised for barking, your dogs attention shifts a little toward you. After a few good woofs, instruct him to "shush" and then waggle a treat in front of his mouth. It is next to impossible for him to sniff and woof at precisely the same time. Let your Maltese quietly sniff for just 1 second and then give the treat. In no time at all, your Maltese will learn to anticipate the doorbell ringing whenever you tell him to bark and will bark before the doorbell rings. At this point, he has learned to bark on command. Also, you have used the treat as a lure to entice him to sniff (and be quiet) following your request to shush and then, you reinforce your dogs silence with gentle praise and the eventual food reward. With just a few trials, your Maltese will anticipate the likelihood of sniffables following your request to "shush". Always speak softly when instructing him to shush and reinforce his silence with whisper-praise. Now its time to teach him when to bark and when to be quiet.....

Invite a few friends over and instruct them all to non-chalantly walk by the house 5 or 6 times beore walking up to the front door. When the first person walks by the house, it will take all of your attention to keep your Maltese shushed. But continue, because it will be easier when the same person walks by the second time and again on the 3rd pass by. Praise your dog, rewarding him for his silence. Repeat this on subsequent passes, but when the visitor starts up the walk, eagerly and urgently instruct him to "Speak!" .."Speak!" and bark along with the him ;-) . Then instruct him to sit and "shush" as you invite the person in. Your dog soon will learn to watch passerbys in silence and give alarm when they step on your property, but to shush when you invite them in.

It is generally, not a sound policy to instigate shush training when your dog is barking like a banshee. Chances of success? Close to zero. That is why its better to teach your Maltese to shush at a time when he shows little interest in barking. I hope this helps you some. Good Luck.

Thank you Jay. I will start tomorrow. With six little barkers, sometimes I can not hear myself think.
-Marsha A.

Thank you one and all! Thank God today was Sunday--neighborhood kids away and all small animals indoors! It was blissfully quiet. I will try your suggestions and see if we can't calm my little Mr. C. down. He is a dear little one except for this one issue. I'm sure glad we have this wonderful place to get help--thanks again and again Jay. (Marsha, glad to see you back--hope you are feeling ok after your surgery).
-cathy brown

I have had my baby for 2 months now. he is 6 months and 10 days old. i am not working so i spend all my time with him, he follows me everywhere. I mean everywhere which is ok but he is getting very possesive. Now he barks at anyone who comes near me. Even my husband who is starting to get a little upset since he can't get near me without Spike barking at him. It was cute at first but nw i mean my husband really can't get near me. ANYTIME. ( if you know what i mean.) spike sleeps with us. And I think its too late to put him in the kennel at night. He barks and barks. I don't know how to tell him to stop barking at people. He just doesn't understand. I will probably go back to work in October. I really think its going to be hard on him. Any suggestions about the possesiveness?

It is never to late to teach a dog to sleep in kennel if they ever a in it usually. Casper and Miss T use to sleep with me then 2 yrs ago I was ill and it was hard enough for me to sleep more than 2 hrs at a time which meant we were all up every couple of hours. The first night they were a little confused when I told them that it was time for them to go night night but now when they see the signs of bedtime approaching they get in their houses and wait for me to tell them how wonderful they are while I close the gate.
-Carol A

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