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!