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We have a 3 month old puppy who is 50% Anatolian Shepherd and 50% unknown (though we suspect some bloodhound). She is very gentle at playing, loves meeting and playing with new people, and has never had any sort of aggression problem. We had a new person over our house just the other day and she wanted nothing more than to sniff around them and get pet.

I take her out each morning before work to 'go'. However, our neighborhood can be somewhat busy. When a jogger is running by, or a neighbor is getting into their car, she begins to 'ruff' at them, and it sometimes turns into a full bark. I take her out relatively early, and am already on shaky ground with the neighbors for unrelated reasons, so I'd rather not have my dog waking them up every morning. This also sometimes causes her to forget about going potty making accidents more likely. And, of course, I want her to be happy and comfortable.

Based on her personality, I assume that she just wants to meet and play with these people. Her body language is alert, but doesn't seem scared. And this makes me sad as its working contrary to her desires (the barking makes people not want to come meet her). However, this is my first dog and I know when to admit my own ignorance.

I read one website that suggested she may be trying to warn me, and to praise her and then give her the command 'stop barking', then if she barks again yell at her to startle her and use negative association to teach the command. However, this doesn't 'feel right' to me, and yelling at her is not necessarily realistic either outside (where it will wake neighbors) or in (where the rest of the family is sleeping).

What is likely causing her barking, and how can I get her to stop?

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    She's most likely not warning you. If you say her body language is happy and excited, she probably just can't contain it and let's some of it out by barking. Fixing this behavior is tough but it happens over time. First, how long are you gone for? You mentioned having accidents. She's 12 weeks old, and at thst age, she really shouldn't be left alone for around 3 hours... Maybe less. – jeremy Aug 4 '14 at 16:57
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    Similar question: pets.stackexchange.com/questions/1797/…. I may right an answer for yours, but in the meantime check out the answer above. Some of it should be applicable to your question. – jeremy Aug 4 '14 at 17:00
  • @Jeremy Thanks. Someone stays with her all day. However, she sometimes goes 2-3 hours between outings and doesn't always hold it. Unfortunately, she hasn't learned yet how to tell us she needs out. – Nicholas Aug 4 '14 at 17:06
  • @Jeremy I'm only guessing on the body language; it's very hard for me to interpret for dogs as I'm so new to them. She isn't shaking, which she usually does when scared. However, sometimes instead of trying to get to the person she'll stand in one spot staring at them, and letting out a bark every 1-2 seconds. She doesn't back away. – Nicholas Aug 4 '14 at 17:07
  • I see. Now we're entirely off topic, but have you been trying to teach her to tell you when she needs to go out? This is typically done by teaching them a trick like "touch" (with paw or nose) and having her do that every time before she goes out for business. I use a bell instead, and ring it myself before taking them out, and then they get the idea (#6 in this post). – jeremy Aug 4 '14 at 17:10
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First, I disagree with the training method that the website you found provided. I have barking issues with my current dog, and when talking to the trainer about it, the following was suggested (I have an article, maybe I can try and find it later). For now I'll write a little pseudo-article below.

Positively Correcting "Random Barking" in Dogs

Correcting a dog's barking tendencies is often hard. A lot of times, people try to yell, talk, or comfort their dog when he barks. Typically, all three of these are surprisingly counterproductive. Dogs feed on attention; it doesn't matter what kind. If they learn that barking gets them any kind of attention, they might as well not stop. Follow the steps below to learn how to positively correct your dog.

  1. First, choose a silent command. A lot of people start off by yelling "hush" or "no bark" at their dog, and now their dog is used to this command, making it useless. Choose a different command in this case. You may choose "silence" or "attention." If neither of those resonate, go with a second language -- just don't use something you've already used over and over again.

  2. Teach this command to your dog randomly throughout the day by saying the command and giving them a treat. Nothing more. Simply say the command, feed the treat. Do this numerous times in one hour, take a break, do it again, etc... When your dog gets to the point where you can say the command from one room and he perks his ears up and looks at you, waiting for the treat from the room next door, do it at least for a few more hours. This gets him really, really used to it. Then move onto the next step.

  3. Begin saying the command when he barks. However, do this only in minor situations. If you're in the house and he randomly lets out one bark, immediately say the command and give him a treat when he looks at you. Repeat this over the course of a few days. Once he gets it, move onto the next step.

  4. Now say the commands in more heavy situations. Try it when he sees a squirrel or if somebody is at the door. If it's working, you may begin trying to use it on a walk.

  5. After a long, long, long time of doing this, he shouldn't be barking as much and all should be calm again in the neighborhood.

The most important part of this method is to always give him the treats. Never use the command if you don't have treats until after step 5. You can't expect him to listen if you don't have treats. Once he's well-rounded, knows not to bark, and knows the command, you can say it without treats. But this won't be for a while.

In the meantime, I suggest getting her acquainted with a few neighbors. On a weekend maybe, take her on a walk and introduce her to neighbors you normally see in the morning. Explain that she's extremely happy and excited to see everybody, but sometimes she replaces the excitement with barking, which is obnoxious. You can suggest that in order to help you out, since she's met the neighbors and knows that they're cool, before she begins barking at them, they do a little wave and say hi (not necessarily coming over, but greeting her from a distance, letting her know they're friends). It's important to do this before she barks, as once she starts barking, she may associate barking with getting greeted.

Anyways, tell me how this sounds and leave questions; some of it may sound confusing.

  • This makes a lot of sense and I will try putting some of it into practice. Introducing the neighbors may not be possible for unrelated reasons, and the pup usually barks before they see us or I see them walking down the street. I'll still have to find a good, small treat she likes; everything we've used so far is too large for that many little rewards. Thanks! – Nicholas Aug 5 '14 at 12:20
  • I see. I mention introducing because usually when my dog goes into barking mode at someone and the person goes "hi puppy" he immediately backs off, goes into excited pup mode, and can't stop wagging his tail. If you're looking for good treats, I recommend chewy ones, not crisp ones, that you can get from really any store. Tasty choices are any type of meat or fish, like duck breast, salmon, lamb, etc... Pupperoni is great also and I've yet to find a dog who rejects it. I mention chewy because they're good to rip up. If there's a 1" x 1" treat, I'll rip it up into 8 different pieces. – jeremy Aug 5 '14 at 20:48
  • You can also bring the barking about by putting it on command. That way, if you say speak (for example), the dog barks, giving you an opportunity to practice hush. Also, using negative association in this context is only likely to increase your problems, as the dog will likely only learn that the neighbours are bad, because every time he sees one he gets disciplined. – ThomasH Nov 26 '15 at 11:00
  • How do you keep the dog from barking to get a treat? It seems to me there is a risk to associating "I give a small bark and look at my human, I get a treat!" – Layna Dec 17 '15 at 10:17
  • @Layna I suggest two ways: 1) Initially, continue to use the hush command even when the dog doesn't bark and treat the dog. This way the dog won't associate barking with the command. 2) If you notice your dog barking at you then waiting for a treat (as opposed to barking at something outside/an obvious stimuli), simply do not treat. – jeremy Dec 19 '15 at 3:51

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