Okay being the proud owner of Buzz, (who, if there was a Hall of Fame for Barking Agility Dogs, would be one of the first inductees) I feel it would be remiss if I didn’t come to the defensive of the other owners of barking agility dogs. Yes, I agree, there are some dog owners out there that are inconsiderate and just let their dogs go off for no reason, or worse yet, actually encourage their dogs to bark at ringside. But that is not all owners of noisy dogs.
Yes it is a training issue. But as I have previously stated, it is a training issue that is dramatically more difficult to solve with some dogs compared to others.
So before we make all of the owners of these noisy dogs use a scarlet leash or run in their own sound proofed ring, let’s walk a mile in their turf shoes for just a moment shall we?
The native New Zealand Huntaway dog is a breed of dog that were bred to bark with every step they take as they herd sheep. So clearly barking can be firmly genetically wired throughout some dog’s DNA. If you have a hard wired behaviour such as “barking while working” it will be far more difficult to get that dog to work without making noise. I am not saying impossible, I am saying more difficult and in the end it may change who the dog naturally wants to be.
I consider myself a good dog trainer. But I decided the length of time it would take to teach Buzzy to do agility without barking was not worth the effort. So I established criteria that we both could live with. That is, Buzz could bark running agility but never at me and never while on his way to work. I did not allow barking during obedience or any other activity we did together.
So, if Susan Garrett, a person that makes a living educating dog trainers world wide, could not get her dog to stop barking I don’t know that we should be flogging others that have tried their best but also failed.
Your dog may not bark while he works, but that doesn’t mean you could have gotten the next person’s dog to do the same.
Genetics are a fascinating thing and so is karma. So the more you finger point and complain about someone else’s noisy dog, the more likely the stars will be aligning to send you one of your very own! 😈
Now, I am not giving you barking dog owners permission to let your dogs be a jack ass. I still think everyone needs to consider the needs of others while compromising with their barking dog. If you can’t train through your problem at least please take ownership of managing the issue.
For instance, when I used to trial Buzz at an indoor trial, I always checked the rings and tried to not warm him up if there was another dog in the ring working on a clear round. I always waited until there was a fault. Buzz was beyond barking really. He was hysterical, ear drum splitting screaming that would get more than one person believing that some dog must be caught in a leg hold trap somewhere. I really must try and dig up some old Buzz footage for you all to enjoy.
If I had to do it again with Buzz, knowing what I know today, I do believe I would have a much better shot at keeping him quiet. I guess we will never know!
So why not honor all those that made a great go of it with a barking agility dog. You know, training a dog that wants to bark is an extra stressor that most people do not ever have to deal with. I think there should be a Barking Agility Dog Hall of Fame for those dog and handler teams.
But because they (the owners of these dogs) not only had to endure the stress of their dogs barking, but also the shame others inflicted upon them for not shutting their dogs up, they deserve more. They deserve a Barking Agility Dog Hall of Agility Super Stardom (or B.A.D. H.A.S.S for short). Together we can name all of the great Bad Hass dogs throughout history, those dogs that just had to bark while they worked. I will start the list off but everyone else please jump in and contribute the name of any great agility dog you know of that joyfully barked while they worked.
Susan Garrett & Buzz (I did say he would be the first inductee, as matter of fact, Websters may consider using his picture to define the term “barker” in their dictionaries.)
Linda Mecklenburg and Spiffy
Julie Daniels and Spring (a littermate to Spiffy and both were first cousin’s to Buzz btw . . . hmmmm).
Chis Parker and Mayhem . . .
. . . now I won’t name all of the ones I know, you Europeans you have had some great ones over there, come on, induct them into new Barking Agility Dog Hall of Super Stardom.
Today I am still grateful for dogs that are quiet while they work. I love Buzzy like crazy, but think it couldn’t hurt to send up another gratuitous shout out just to hedge my bets for next time around!
Oh yes, the barking….my 14 mo old border collie is a barker for sure. It doesn’t bother me much that she barks during the course, but it does bother me that she strains at the leash and barks maniacally while she is waiting her turn. She is not competing yet – just training. I try to get her to focus on me – which she does as long as no other dog is running or being called by it’s owner. But once the action starts, she is a bit crazy. Any thoughts?
This article and comments do truly make me feel a bit better. I have a 4year old Pembroke with whom I am starting to run competitively. She is lightning fast and lives to run agility. The run is her reward. She barks from the minute I drop the collar inside the ring until she finishes the run. She has a good sit-stay but will bark right through that as well. I know some of my problem is not cuing her fast enough for her run and we are attempting to improve distance work as there is no way humanly possible to keep up with her. I have tried everything to stop her from barking from stopping and walking her out of the ring when she starts to reaching down and picking her up. She understands “silence” and will stop for a second or two. I am hoping with continued experience the barking decreases but only time will tell. Thank you all for sharing.
The key part of this article for me is this:
“Now, I am not giving you barking dog owners permission to let your dogs be a jack ass. I still think everyone needs to consider the needs of others while compromising with their barking dog. If you can’t train through your problem at least please take ownership of managing the issue.”
At least here in the Northeastern US, there are a fair number of handlers with excessively barking dogs who are NOT considerate of others. I am not talking about those dogs that bark when they are doing their own run, but dogs that are allowed to bark incessantly while waiting to run (don’t get me started on the handlers who purposefully let their barking dogs watch other dogs run, just in order to get their own dog “amped”); and also dogs who are constant stressed barkers in a crating area, getting the stress hormones freely flowing in all the dogs around them.
I think there is a question to ask in addition to “Is this behavior a problem for me?” and that is “Is this behavior a problem for those around me?” and if so, look for training and management strategies.
I’m very aware that there are a lot of people with barking (and reactive, and overly friendly, etc.) dogs who ARE aware and respectful of other competitors (thank you!), just wish there were MORE of them out there!
I see nothing wrong with dogs that bark on course, although it is not my favorite, and to me it usually seems to indicate a dog that is too aroused to think straight. But I see a lot wrong with imposing continual barking on those around you while waiting for your turn to go in. My husband only comes with me to a trial occasionally. When dogs start to bark loudly and continuously, he leaves. That affects both him and me. It also very strongly affects my dogs, who become so aroused by the noise that we cannot get away from that they are difficult to control and cannot think. Somehow the feeling seems to be 100% that other dogs should not react to the barker and 0% that the barker should be prevented from causing the problem. Even the 50-50 approach would acknowledge that we ALL have problems…. but ALL have some rights and needs, too.
Raven is trying to pad her resume to get a spot in this prestigious group!
hi all well done on your achievements. I would submit dash but he has not started. He did however submit high pitch yips which even using ear plugs doesnt help with the decibels. when taking him to watch flyball he nearly drove everyone crazy. I will train him in flyball and agility wish me luck. The herding instinct is a possibility as his bloodlines are just that.
One more comment: I truly believe that the dogs that are focused barkers are doing it because of prey drive. They are chasing the handler which is exciting. I have coyotes behind my house and I hear them almost every night doing just this type of barking when they are chasing down their prey. I think it is a good thing in an agility run. However, I do see another type of barking occasionally where the handler is not moving fast enough for the dog and the dog seems to be frustrated by the slow movement. This is not ideal on a run.
In general though I think barking can be good so long as the dog is still very focused on the run and the handler.
Why would anyone be upset about a dog barking while doing agility? I think that is absurd. My dog initially did not bark during runs. But as he got more confident he started barking when his prey drive got turned on. What is wrong with that? I think it’s great and a sign that he is really excited and ready to run.
Scooter my Mini Schnauzer could fit the bill…he is the most laid back Schnauzer until he hits agility! He is quiet in obedience…he has his CDX & one leg from is UCDX.
He is even quiet on the start line…I say okay on lead out and it is all over!!!
I don’t have the heart to correct it because he has so much fun and loves agility! This is the award for all his hard work in obedience…which definitely is not as much fun for him…but he loves me and will do anything for me 8)
Did anyone ever find a way to curb their dogs barking? I have a 14 month old sheltie that scream barks through the entire course, so much so that she can not hear me – and I can’t hear either! We’ve been trying different things but she seems to be so crazy-hyper that nothing works for too long. My other sheltie barks – but within reason. Would like to find something to at least calm her barking a little.
My Sheltie Nellie LOVES to bark during agility. I don’t think that’s a huge problem. Shelties are known for being a shy breed, and Nellie is not an exception. She’s getting better, but we still have challenges around a crowded, dog & people filled trial environment. I don’t like people getting their dogs to bark ringside, but with a dog like Nellie, I would love for her to be that excited. We’re not trailing, so she doesn’t have much experience. When she does, I think that her fearfulness will go away.
I’m under the opninion that Belgians in general are hardwired so that the mouth goes off when their feet move, but noone as much so as my friend Julie’s Aua, who single handedly caused my other friend in the elite class obedience ring to fail her programme at our last show! 🙁 If any obedience class should ever be trained to work through a distraction like this it would be the Elite class, but still… I think it’s too much to ask!
Please enjoy this example of Aua’s worst:
PS: nothing triggers my own Artemis like the sound of Aua in the ring, even if it’s just the sound from a YouTube-vid *lol*
My dog dosen’t bark ‘in’….the ring. But she barks when we are standing in line. I try to discourage it. Sometimes I stay back, don’t ‘get’ in line. Stay connected with her, do lots of hand touches….but the second we are not doing something….the very SECOND we stop…she starts in again. She would bark the whole time in the line up area if I let her. On a good note!…..she stops once she is at the start line. I’ve noticed her daddy does it too. And he’s not barking at anything in perticular. Just barking. maybe she gets it from him? But….I know for sure mine is barking at the anticipation.
I may never perceive a flyball match the same 🙂
I do believe that some lines (and breeds) have a genetic tendency to bark. My eldest Motion (her father’s line is extremely vocal) came home at 7 weeks and spent the first 2 weeks screaming non-stop in her kennel. Up to the age of 1 yrs old, if you put her down for a nap (yes, she was really tired) she would immediately hang upside down from the top of her kennel and scream until she fell asleep. At 5 yrs old Motion immits a constant low volume symphony letting you know exactly what she’s up to, feeling, or thinking. It isn’t irritating, it just is Motion. To Motion her voice is an extension of her thoughts and feelings. Even while competing in rally obedience Motion has a VERY quiet conversation with me. Thank goodness for loud dogs ringside otherwise she might not have her titles! Of course, I don’t feel being naturally more vocal is an excuse for poor manners (crate screaming, barking at handler, etc.). Motion has excellent manners- she’s just very vocal.
Hello my name is Kristine and my Aussie Bosco is a barker while playing agility. LOL
Like others have mentioned, he does not bark while in his crate or waiting his turn or in my house or in my yard (except to alert me), only while playing the game he loves so much. My instructor and I have been working on getting him to play quietly and have had some success when doing small sequences and keeping him calm but as soon as the Mama starts running and he is amped up, he is as noisy as ever. I have a wonderful picture of him barking thru weaves with split flying everywhere, I love it (the picture, not the barking or the spit). The barking does bother me but not enough to quit playing agility with him. He also doesn’t bark “at me”. And you should hear him scream when going thru a tunnel!
Funny, just last weekend at a seminar with Tracy Sklenar I “shushed” him while working and Tracy just laughed at me (and wished me luck in trying to stop him, LOL).
Seri’s working on her resume for this hall…
FWIW, she didn’t start till she was over 2yrs old and already competing, and she is not allowed to yell “at me” either. But man she’s got some lungs!
I always measure “how long is this going to take to get rid of” versus “how much does it actually bother me”? Hence after fighting for a few years over Drifter’s PITA outside-the-ring behavior, I decided as long as he listened INSIDE the ring I’d deal with it. Same with Seri’s loud mouth.
EEEK! My post was referring to video that my students provide me with after they run and was not directed at anyone on this list. I guess I should have been more clear, I would never critique someone’s run publicly, that is just bad taste and totally unprofessional. Sorry for the lack of clarity.
Your comments re the Huntaways remind me of the day you, John and I spent at the Mission Estate in Hawkes Bay watching them film the herding TV show. We went for the drive, the view and the wine – and got to see NZ working dogs in action.
On another note, to me, the mark of a great dog is that he makes you feel something when watching. Everything I’ve ever seen of Buzzy makes me smile – how special is that…………
PS: Can’t wait to see you back here!
Funny Fiona, that is exactly what I was thinking when I wrote it!
I am glad Susan posted this post.
I currently do not have a dog who barks on course, however the newest addition (puppy) may prove me wrong….we are working to curb her anxiety/excitement barking while we are in the initial foundation phase of her working with me….but no guarantees here. I have only just begun in this sport and by no means think I have the answers about how to handle this topic fully.
I have my thoughts, as do others….and we all seem to come from different perspectives on the topic, many people sharing their weaknesses and ideas for ways to handle different issues, we all struggle with.
So while we don’t all agree on “how” within this behavior and training topic, I would wager we can all agree on the “why” we all got into this sport…..
To have fun, teach our dogs to have confidence, and to learn to run as a team….a two partner team, where both individuals (dog and handler) need to decide on their level of enjoyment, safety, and add their individual flare to a sport which is becoming more and more competitive.
Reminder this needs to be a good time with your best friend and the best time you can offer them as well. Now thinking with this statement in mind asses the areas of need and areas of strength you and your partner(s) have to work through over the time you have with them and jump into working those areas….both (areas of need – for increased understanding for your dog and Strengths – for building the fun into the work).
The thing I love about this sport is that I am always finding new things/ways to train something and always am training these with my dogs best interest in mind….I owe them this.
Tasha Merrill and her tall yellow Lab, Edgar, from Richmond VA area…a few years ago.
This is a delightful subject!
Like you, Susan, I have to be very careful at the practice jumps and mindful of the disturbance. Timing is everything and I have to severely limit our jump warm up so I don’t “wear out our welcome”!
I nominate my bc Fenway for the Barking Dog Hall of Fame. His Brothers and sisters should be also nominated and its proof to me that agility barking is hot wired. Fenway simply has a lot to say about everything with groans, tips, chortles, yodels and all different types of barks.
He is now getting famous around MD and someone recently said they love watching him because he will let everyone in the area know he’s running and having a blast. He even barks to the beat while doing weaves!
Rebecca made excellent points about the difference between frustrated barks caused by bad handling and exhuberant happy barks. Fenway is my biggest critic– he keeps me sharp and on my toes. I always know what, where and when I made a mistake!
THANK YOU! My Beagle mix barks the entire run! She has been “clocked” at more than 60 barks per run. I think agility for her is “the chase” and she loves it and is “on the hunt” and barking like a good Beagle should in that situation. However, she also has an obedience score of 199 to her credit (obviously no barking there!). But she should definitely be inducted into this Barking Ahll of Fame!
Hey Lori – I know a nominee for the local hall of fame and his name starts with a T…. 🙂
Hmmmm…. I am thinking maybe I was being a little too brave in posting that run here. Not sure if I am tough enough to take more flack at this point in time over his barking. He is a lot of fun and really calm outside of the ring, shows no anxiety and is growing with me. When I make mistakes he stops barking and waits patiently, never bark AT me. My goal is now to get him excited enough to bark in practice so that we both learn to run with the barking and I have been able to get him to do so. I did not submit the video to have my handling dissected though nor my training as this was night time after a long day of travelling and I had recently been sick and I know I am far from perfect. He is a happy dog. My girls is more anxious and does not bark.
I hope this does not come off as offensive and of course all are free to completely disagree. Not all barking is stress but sometimes it is. There are some really fast barking dogs out there that make their lines not because of the handler but inspite of. Here is a more detailed explanation of fast and frantic barker. The afflicted dog is struggling with criteria and realizes that it is being trained in a motion based system and must drive the line that the handler is (poorly) setting, add in poor start line training (basic impulse control), and failure to train truely independent contact performance regardless of running, 2o2o etc. If you watch a clip and the barker is spot on holding their stay, driving the line and never head checks towards the handler, keeps criteria on all independent obstacles and runs fast and clean then wooopppeee if it aint broke dont fix it. In fact celebrate the awesome teamwork and accomplishments of the dog and handler. Those dogs are the ones that are the barking HOF material. If on the flipside you watch a clip and the barking dog is all over on its startline criteria showing many displacement behaviors, paddling the feet, creeping, lip licking, chattering etc takes the opening line fast and furious but has no proper set point, smashes its body around, and the barks change often combined with head checks etc there is a training problem there and barking is a huge feedback to the handler that the dog while very aroused is also very confused. One way to tell is to listen. If a dog is running with a bark that has a given rhytm then all the sudden it runs its barks together you can be certain that the dog is unsure and seeking info from the handler. Watch dogs run together barks when approaching a 2o2o while simultaneaously head checking to the handler. I am not takling about barking that occurs specifically only in certain predictible situations like vocal weaves or is attached to a learned behavior. The dogs that bark out of stress are recognized by their body language as I stated above. Their heads come off their line of travel and head check the handler or raise up ruining their next set point for jumping. I guess my point is that handlers really need to notice and recognize if the barking is or is not a problem based on performance criteria. If you analyze your training and your barker is giving you feedback that suggests you need to do a better job of training then take the time to break down behavior and fix it.
For instructors here is a question from your competiton classes how many barkers are showing stress vs. know their stuff. In my classes 90% or higher of my barkers are not clear in their criteria. Most of those barkers become silent as the training improves. For the rest of them that are born to be loud and maintain competitive excellence it makes me smile 🙂
Was just going through the comments and your’s just blew me away.
All I can say is WOW! and what a brilliant analysis.
I also submit a link for your consideration… Jag is just three and he never barks at home or outside of the ring or going into the ring… He was at your seminar in Vancouver and he did not bark there either. Just in competition! How could you possibly stop that? He won’t even bark when the rest bark at dogs on the street. A lot of people hate it when he runs and I feel defensive at times but I am not willing to correct him in a trial, he is a soft boy. I have never seen a dog bark it’s way through the weaves like this but I saw Buzz at Saskatoon Nationals and he did!! (I know, my fronts are late..LOL)
Thank you for the insight. I have an Aussie that is very vocal, Agility or Flyball. I have found that sometimes she is actually telling me something. Now thinking about the herding aspect…. Thanks!
I submit for your consideration: Reuben the agility coonhound.
Buzz’s teeter performance gives a whole new meaning to 2o2o!!
I would definately submit my girl, Sandy, to the Barking Agiltity Dogs Hall of Fame! She is across the Rainbow Bridge, gleefully running her own courses, barking the whole time!
The Nationals at Palgrave was fun, the line up was Sandy, then Buzz or Buzz then Sandy. I was having a hard time keeping her quiet when Buzzy ran his course, and having to be on deck made it worse. But it is also one of my best agility memories of her.
I would like to see a Buzz run, too. That picture of Buzz on the teeter is fantastic. But why is the woman in the background running? It looks as if she’s jumped out of her chair and was making a mad dash. Was that the judge?
hhhmmm. Would Hamlet qualify as an inductee?
Great posts lately and congrats on great runs in FL. Awesome list…made me get a little misty and SMILE thinking about all those great dogs. Spiffy, Spring, Mayhem, Buzz….great ones for sure!
ABSOLUTELY Renee, Hammie is a shoe in, on the first ballot!
Thanks for this post, Susan. While I read the other blog posts on barking, I was thinking exactly what you’ve said here — that in some dogs it’s absolutely hardwired, and I’m not sure ANYONE could completely train it out of them.
Hi Susan, I would love to see (hear?) Buzzy doing agility!!
No local candidates come to mind but please add Encore to the B.A.D.H.A.S.S. greats, she is my favorite awesome barker to watch :)))
I’d love to see (and hear) some footage of Buzz at his best (and loudest) 🙂