This is a Frequently Barked Question.
FBQ: How do I stop my Pyrenean Mountain Dog from barking?
Clowie: All dogs bark and there can be lots of different reasons for barking. The most common reasons are anxiety, boredom, excitement, or a perceived threat. Everyone has their own ideas about how much barking is acceptable, but most of us have neighbours and have to control our urge to bark sometimes. As it’s such a big topic, I am going to concentrate on my main reason for barking and how I trained my bipeds to understand me, so that I need to bark less.
Pyrenean Mountain Dogs have a reputation for barking at passing butterflies, or a falling leaf! We take our protection duties very seriously, so there is some truth in what is said – we are always on the lookout for a potential threat. And some of us simply like the sound of our own voices!
I didn’t bark very much at all as a puppy, this is normal for a Great Pyrenees. (I wrote more about this in “The calm before the barking storm“) We tend to start barking when our protective instincts kick in, as we mature. When I did start barking, I found I enjoyed it and would carry on until I was absolutely sure that I had barked the threat away.
Lots of trainers advise teaching a dog to bark on command. This means you can work on asking the dog to stop barking as part of a training session, rather than at unexpected times. This seemed to make sense and so my bipeds tried to get me to bark on command, but they failed. The suggested techniques rely on exciting a dog until it barks. I don’t bark when I’m excited, I make a small, excited noise in my throat and sometimes do a little, bouncy jump – very demure!
My barking was all about what I perceived to be threats to my household. I didn’t find many security threats because I had met everyone that comes to the house – including the postman. I found I enjoyed barking when I did find a reason and it was hard for my bipeds to get my attention. If they spoke to me normally, I didn’t hear them because I was making so much noise. If they raised their voices I thought they were joining in and that made me bark louder!
There were two places that I liked to bark, just inside the front door, peeking through its panes of glass, and outside by the side gate. I enjoyed spending part of my day by the side gate – it was made of wrought iron and I could see what was going on in the road from there. Every time I barked one of my bipeds would come out and attach a lead to my collar and take me indoors, without saying a word – that wasn’t much fun! It didn’t take me long to decide to keep my barking to a minimum when I was outside.
Indoors was another matter. When I heard something to bark at, I would stand where I could see through one of the clear panes of glass in the front door and fill my lungs and bark and bark. Sometimes one of my bipeds would wave a treat near my nose to get my attention and then ask me to sit. It’s hard to bark when you’re sitting with a treat in front of your nose!
Sometimes I was so determined to bark that I wasn’t interested in the treat and I ignored it and carried on barking. Then one of them would touch my head to get my attention and lead me away from the door. I should say I’m extremely relaxed about being touched and this would not be a good idea with all dogs – leaving a line attached to the dog’s collar would be a better idea if the dog is not calm about being touched unexpectedly.
They gradually introduced the command “quiet” to tell me to stop barking. I gradually barked for a shorter time, as I knew they looked to see what I was barking at before they told me “quiet”. Now I usually only give a couple of short woofs and one of them will say, “Thank you, Clowie”.
I only continue to bark if it’s something out of the ordinary and I think they haven’t understood, but as my training of my bipeds progresses I only need to do this very occasionally.
I still have a few FBQs that I haven’t answered yet, but if you have a question for me then please leave it in the comments or on my other social media. I will put your name when I answer it, unless you ask me not to.
See you next Wednesday!
I’ve also explained why young Pyrenean Mountain Dogs often don’t bark very much and what to expect when they do begin – “The calm before the barking storm”
I am also asked about barking at night and explain how my bipeds reduced it – “Why barking at night can be a good thing”