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I just love this shot. Kristie Moser took in last weekend in Orlando. It is just a crack up. Encore doing all the talking, then there is me, lips pursed, as if trying not to compete with her voice.

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A lot of great comments about barking this week. Here are a few more thoughts.

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I think a big reason dogs bark is that they have been allowed to. Reheasals of any performance improves the performance so if you don’t want a barking dog, don’t allow the rehearsals! Sure there is a time and place for a dog to vocalize (like when someone comes into your yard) but for those that don’t like the barking, look to the times they are allowed to vocalize.  Feature would have loved to bark while I worked Encore, so I never allowed her to be anywhere in eyesight or ear shot when I trained Encore. It only took me a couple months of Crate Games to get her comfortable with me working another dog and her laying in an open crate or on a table.  (However, I did notice this weekend though that she is now not happy in a closed crate so will have to work that before our next trial.)

Those rehearsals included puppies screaming . . .  for any reason. Use stuffed kongs or raw meaty bones given to a dog before you start to work and be sure  that he can NOT see or hear you work your dog.

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Although I do agree with Rebecca’s eloquent comments about dogs being allowed to obsess and mouth on a toy while they watch another dog work potentially leading to aggression. I disagree that all dogs that do this will automatically bark when working when the toy is not present. I know of several that do not (including Feature).

But yes, the mouthing, toy shaking etc, is displacement behaviour and I in fact, did curb it in Feature for several months when she was younger when I saw her responding to the odd dog in a way that could easily escalate to aggression. She now is allowed to do it and does get along with all dogs ringside or otherwise, quite well.

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However I am NOT in favour of allowing any dog to bark and go crazy while another dog is working. Geeez, aren’t these critters supposed to be our family pets first? How does that contribute to the behaviour of your family pet? And as Rebecca pointed out, the top dogs in any sport have a grace and fluidness rather than a franticness about them. Don’t allow displacement frustration replace good old fashion drive training. There is a MAJOR difference. One requires thought and a progressive training plan. The other only requires you tie a dog to a fence and let the chips fall where the may. You can see why some trainers will offer up that advise, it requires little effort on their part and it may create what you want (however beware of what else you get in the process!)

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Focus on reinforcement of quiet rather than the punishment of noisy. Look for solutions not problems.

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If you are going to use a “muffler” be certain to give it to the dog before he has a chance to bark not in response to his barking. One may prevent the barking (and contribute to building upon a rehearsal of success) and the other is rewarding the barking.

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Any vocalizing has the potential to lead to barking. So do not reward responses with any vocalizing (humming, squealing, etc), regardless of how cute you may think it is as a puppy.

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Yes I believe some lines of dogs within a breed are more prone to bark, but I do not think genetics is a good excuse to have a barking dog. That is of course if you care, some of you don’t!  Check out the sea lions on the warf in San Francisco. Barking fools they are! Yet when those creatures are on stage at Sea World they don’t make a peep unless they are told they can.  Here you have a strong genetic desire being re-directed by good animal training.

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So I guess what I am saying is that A) I was/am not a good enough dog trainer to get Buzz and Encore to not bark in the ring or

B) I didn’t/don’t care enough about it to make the effort necessary to change the dog’s drive to bark.

I think with Buzz it was more of A and with Encore it is more of B.  Regardless of the fact that I do NOT like the barking, I have learned to not allow it to bother me. Funny though when Terry Smorch ran Encore in Snookers last year he told me it rattled him when she started barking. Not that he couldn’t get used to it as well, but it did surprise and unnerve him momentarily.

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For those that haven’t seen it, here is a few runs from the weekend in Orlando. I have covered up Encore’s barking with some choice music!

Today I am grateful for a chance to workout with one of my favorite fitness coaches here in Florida.