Being that we are just wrapping up 6 days of camps in the last two weeks I need to make a comment about dogs that bark.

Yes I realize this may be a bit of the pot calling the kettle black because if you have seen any video footage of my dogs you will know that Buzz did, and Encore does love to announce their joy of life while working. It is not something I enjoy, nor something I even consciously “allowed” but clearly I need to take full responsibility of it as something I “trained” or it would not be there.

With Buzz I made the decision early on I would allow barking only while working and never in between nor could it be “at” me.  I also never rewarded behaviours while shaping if he barked. Sadly what that criteria lead me to was he was the first dog I owned that did very few tricks. It was just too hard to live up to my own rule so I did little shaping of tricks with him!

With Encore I thought I had the problem licked. Being that she is related to Buzz the drive to bark was certainly strong, however I worked hard to make sure she did not bark at all on course as a youngster. I just didn’t allow it right from the start . . .  or so I thought. I did, however allow her loud excited squeal while weaving. That turned into barking pretty well anywhere.

So I have made my mistakes, but never have I allowed barking prior to work, or while I worked another dog.  In my opinion there is barking while still being compliant and working, and then there is just being a jackass.  While you are trying to talk to an instructor and your dog is just barking for no apparent reason, that is not necessary and trust me it can make you unwelcome very fast. I am not being prejudice I know from experience how people equate barking dogs with rude owners.

So what about you? Do you have a time when it is okay for the dog to bark and others when it isn’t? What do you do to stop it?Personally I think the easiest thing to do is to put a muffler on it. When not working the dog give him a toy to hold in his mouth, just know that you are not training, you are just managing (which is okay with me). But let me hear all of your ideas, maybe you could help save someone the embarrassment of being at a workshop with a dog that others get annoyed by while trying to listen to an instructor.

Today I am grateful for quiet dogs. Feature is the first Border Collie I have ever owned that keeps the yapper closed while on course (however she does have opinions at other times). I really do view the silence as a huge blessing, because as a trainer,  history would point a finger at me to let the world know I am not any sort of an expert on how to stop a dog that wants to bark while working.