More Barking

Between Loki and Jujube, Loki has always been our resident guard dog. He'll let us know whether we have visitors, whether the neighbors are checking their mail, whether children are playing in the street, and whether a leaf is blowing in the wrong direction. Luckily for us, Baby doesn't wake up from Loki's barking. But just because it doesn't bother Baby doesn't mean it doesn't bother our neighbors. Yeah, nowadays, every time we let him out into our backyard, we hope and pray that he doesn't bark, lest our neighbors complain... again. We brought up the issue of barking with our dog behaviorist.

"Has Loki barked more since Baby was born?" she asked us.

"Huh, I don't know. I never really thought about it in relation to Baby's arrival." I thought about it for a minute or two and then assented, "I guess so."

"Sometimes dogs bark more with the arrival of a new baby because there is now an additional person in the household. A new baby to protect."

Huh, weird. So Loki barks more to protect our baby and yet things like this happen? Huh, okay. That's kind of interesting.

To help with the barking, the behaviorist recommended that we let Loki bark for a couple seconds, then go to the window and check out whatever is going on, reply to him with "oh, it's only the neighbors," and then tell him to stop. The idea is that it's Loki's job to alert us, but then our job to actually take care of any potential harm. So we should acknowledge that he's done his part and then we do our part.

I imagine that if we ignored his barking and told him to immediately stop, then his anxiety would escalate and he would think, "But no! Really! Listen to me! You have to come look! There's a man with a machete and a ski mask running down the street towards us! We are all in mortal danger! You have to listen to me! You have to listen to me!!!" So, you actually have to check out what's going on in order to calm him down. Now, this rationale may or may not be true. I've just made it up. But it makes sense in my head that the more you ignore, the louder the alerting barks will be.

Have any of you had a similar experience? If you have had a new baby join your (dog) household, have you found that your dog barked more?


Anonymous said...

Your theory fits our experience. If we check out what Zuko has alerted us to (while giving him a sit-wait command) he immediately stops. His barking has never been often nor a problem.

K9Trainer said...

Fits my experiences, too. Kitsune has different levels of barking, from, "Hey who is that out there?" to "OHMYGODCOMECHECKTHISOUTSOMETHINGISOIGOINGON!"

I don't mind the couple of mild woofs he makes in the first instance, but the second is seriously LOUD.

In those cases, I usually open the door, let him see what is in the hall, and if someone IS out there, I tell him, "They are allowed to be here! Enough." And that typically settles him. Sometimes no one is in the hall, and he stands there looking bewildered. He usually does have to give one last soft chuff to get a last word in though.

jen said...

Yep, sounds like our Kitsu.

We get up and look outside, then simply say "Thanks Kit!" if its nothing.
He's sort of always on edge though, and we don't got no babies :)

Anonymous said...

That's so nice.

JR said...

Our Shibas do the same thing. If I go check it out and let them know it is okay they usually stop quickly. If it is a noise or something on TV I just let them know I heard it too and it is okay. Sometimes our female barks out of anxiety. In those cases I find giving her attention helps her relax.

Aleja said...

sounds about right. my shiba lilly barks at EVERYTHING that goes by our house. from squirrels and leaves to someone walking on the other side of the street. don't know how to get her to stop though? i'm pretty sure our neighbors can't stand it

Aleja said...

sounds about right. my shiba lilly barks at EVERYTHING that goes by our house. from squirrels and leaves to someone walking on the other side of the street. don't know how to get her to stop though? i'm pretty sure our neighbors can't stand it

Unknown said...

we have found our Shiba Senshi has multiple types of what we call "alarm barks". People running down the street (jogging), and other pedestrian traffic tends to be a more playful sounding bark. However, some people get his dander up and they are the ones we watch out for. Beyond that he has alarm barks both for other dogs, deer, and bear (we live in Montana and have apple trees). In all of those cases when he barks outside, we simply step outside, assess the situation, and let him know it is okay. We then recall him to come back to the house and shower him with praise for being a good guard dog...lots of good boys for him! He is an otherwise quiet dog, unless he is playing with the kitties or our newest animal control rescue Shiba we named Odin.

Busana Muslim said...

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ShibaInuCanada said...

Our Shiba Inu Merlin has had terrible barking matches with our neighbour Husky-mix, often with two local Collies joining in on Merlin's side, creating a canine cacophony.
After I read your post, I tried what you suggested and went out 10-20 seconds into the barking, ostensibly to take a look at what my Shiba alerted me to, and told him that it was all good and to be quiet, and he immediately calmed down. THANK YOU!
For more adventures of Merlin, please visit the website I created: Shiba Inu Canada

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