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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We picked up a mother/daughter pair... a four year old Boston Terrier/Pug mix (I guess they call 'em Bugs) and her six week old baby, whose father was a purebred Chihuahua. The pup is now about five months. Mom is a nearly ideal pet... quiet, and snuggly. The baby, although hyper, is a thoroughly lovable animal... but over the past few weeks she's picked up a serious barking problem. It's mostly tied to her desire to play... she wants to wrestle with her mom, and mom is an extraordinarily lazy animal who is mostly just happy to lie around. So the pup barks. We can distract her with a rope sometimes... but since what she really wants is to wrestle, it doesn't always work. Also, if she's in one room and the humans are in another (there are some rooms in which she is not allowed), she barks. It's driving everybody bananas. Exacerbating the situation is my wife's mental health condition, which makes her sensitive to repetitive noise like that. This issue HAS to be solved.

I've been ranging up and down the internet trying to find training solutions. The going answer seems to be... wait her out, then reward her when she shuts up. Trouble is, that can be HOURS. We can't outwait her without having everybody in the house ready to rip one another's heads off. I'm sure there's a way to do this, but I'm also sure I don't know what it is. Also be it noted that I live in the middle of nowhere and there isn't an obedience school in reasonable driving distance. Can anybody suggest or link to a training solution for this problem?
 

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What kind of exercise, training, enrichment, etc. is the puppy getting on a daily basis?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What kind of exercise, training, enrichment, etc. is the puppy getting on a daily basis?
Sorry for the very delayed response. Xmas kind of threw everything for a loop. In the interim the problem seemed to briefly get better, but now it's gotten radically worse in the past three or four days. Now if she isn't getting attention she barks. PERIOD. To answer your question she gets a decent amount of exercise... tug of war with a rope is big around here, and we walk her as best we can given the MN weather. If by enrichment you mean love and attention, quite a bit of that as well. Training is mostly focused on housebreaking at the moment. In the past I've had lazy large dogs that basically train themselves; this furry ball of energy is a little beyond my experience. Mostly she has GOT to stop barking. It's a serious problem.
 

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Waiting it out means click when she takes a breath. She'll go what was that and look at you. You treat and she barks again. Catch the next .2 second break and click and treat. At some point you will click at exactly the right moment and she'll get it. Then you can start waiting for very slightly longer breaks between barks. Doesn't matter if she got a dozen barks in between that click and you getting the treat to her, what counts is you clicked when she was not barking. Since she probably does everything at lightning speed you'll have an easier time catching the breaks between barks using a clicker than your voice.

When she barks drop the toy and avert your eyes. If she gets worse turn away. If she gets more intense leave the room acting very upset that you can no longer play with that noisy dog. Not mad, more disappointed. When she stops to take a breath turn back and pick up the toy. Especially with a puppy you need to have very clear distinctions so she gets the correlation faster.

One evil way is to act like the barking means give her something she doesn't particularly like. Wipe her feet or face or pick up her toys and put them away.

I feel for you. My two are pure bred yappy dogs. Mostly they bark at something so simple management works.
 

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My chihuahua mix boy is mixed with corgi, retriever, and some type of bully dog. His bark is as loud as a large dog’s, but sounds between a corgi and chihuahua in size. Unfortunately, he got the talkative chihuahua trait. Because of this, everyone around him almost goes deaf if he decides to bark. I also will have to move into an apartment in the future, so I need to keep barking to the minimum. Anyhow, nothing would stop him from barking as a young dog, so I had to go last resort and physically close his muzzle (firmly but gently), whenever he decides to bark. I would firmly say “quiet” each time I did it. I reinforced the habit by giving him a treat once he responded to “quiet”, and stopped barking. Today, he responds to “quiet” immediately, and I no longer deal with a barking issue, and VERY rarely need to ever touch his muzzle. I would personally try other things before this. This technique really is the most direct and “dominating” way to get a dog to be quiet, and it can even come off as overbearing to a dog. Make sure you know your dog quite well before doing this training, as well. I know a lot of dogs who would bite your fingers off for attempting it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ok, I'm working on the clicker training, but can anybody suggest a short-term placebo? It's getting worse literally by the day... she's barking almost all the time now unless somebody is actively engaging with her. SOMETHING has got to give, and soon.
 

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The longer it goes on the more habitual it will be and the more difficult to stop.

In a real nuisance barker I use an electronic bark collar but I do NOT recommend this for this dog at this time because of the following:
1.) The age of the dog.
2.) The size of the dog.

The issue too with a bark collar is that the dog learns that they must shut up when it is on and the collar cannot remain on for more than a few hours any given day due to neck irritation.

Another option is surgical "debarking" which (again) I absolutely do NOT recommend.

I would try a small crate (plastic?) that the puppy cannot see out of. The crate needs to be in a room where the other dog does not go and has little "people traffic." Silence is the "ticket" for release from the crate. I would try this and start there. I would also do the "silence=click and reward" but your timing has to to be dead spot on or you end up rewarding FOR barking.

In the end if you cannot train the problem you may have to rehome the dog (and I do not say that lightly).
 
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