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Has anyone had good luck getting their dogs to stop barking at ghosts? 

It's open window weather and it doesn't last very long so I'm trying to take advantage. But the girls keep spazzing out barking at, as far as I can tell, nothing. I'm sure there is something out there. A squirrel, a bird, once I saw a cat. But nothing I want to know about. So far the only solution that sort of works is to close the curtains, which sort of defeats the point of having the windows open. 

I've never tried to train a no bark command. I don't really understand how it's done. I've heard stuff about teaching them to bark on command so... they only bark on command? They're don't generally bark so much that it bothers me. It would just be nice if I wasn't just starting to fall asleep when they decide they need to tell me there is something (nothing) outside. 

Thanks! 

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I absolutely believe that they think they are doing their job telling me that they hear something. 

I think this is a good suggestion! And that's basically what I do with them during the day. But Karen's right - it's really hard to stumble out of bed in the middle of the night and try to calmly train the dogs. And yet, putting my pillow over my head isn't very effective either. 

They seem to do better with the curtains closed. So that's the route we're going right now. But I'm going to keep working on it.

The trainer that we use for our dog's education says that dogs bark for 2 reasons: 1) they want to make something come closer to them (for our dog that's usually a high-pitched bark) and 2) They want something to go away from them (usually a lower pitched, urgent bark, paired with a stiff body, high tail, closed mouth) 

When our dog barks in the house, it's almost always anxiety-related. She is scared of noises she hears or things she sees out the window. At first I thought "no! my dog is so friendly! She's not scared of people outside!" But then I started to pay more attention to her body language both inside and outside the house. Turns out-- yes, she is friendly when she is able to access a friendly stranger, sniff them, get attention, etc. But people at a distance? They scare the crap out of her. She doesn't bark in public, usually, but that's apparently very common and likely because she doesn't feel comfortable enough to bark. She just tenses up and keeps an eye on what she's afraid of. when things scare her in "safe place" she's much more likely to vocalize.

Now she barks whenever she hears any kind of thud in the house, because it sounds like footsteps on our front porch. She barks if the neighbor kids are playing outside. She barks if a car drives up (but not usually if they just drive by).

We attended a fearful dog workshop and are now starting to work on counter conditioning with her. We go out in public, keep people at a distance, and when we see a person walk by, she gets tripe out of a kong. It's going to be a looong process, but we're starting outside the home. Once she learns to be calm there, we'll move to the yard. Then to inside the house and conditioning to knocking, footsteps, doorbell, etc.

In terms of teaching not to bark-- our trainer phrased it like this; "Imagine if you're so terrified of something/someone that you're yelling at it to go away. Then imagine that someone teaches you not to do that, leaving you with no recourse other than to attack. That's what happens when you teach a dog not to bark or growl when they're afraid."

Picco doesn't have either of those stances.  He wags his tail while barking because he's very verbal and likes to bark (takes after hubby who likes to talk alot) and he's hoping those noises mean a potential playmate! 

well I certainly hope you're right because anxiety is no fun... but wagging and flagging can look pretty similar! I used to think Billie Jean was wagging her tail, but it's actually flagging, which is a warning sign that dogs give. For us, the difference is whether her entire butt/body is loose and wiggly vs standing completely still other than the tail moving back and forth.

I started using a noise machine making ocean sounds to deal with Belle barking at night at a neighbor's cat who was making herself at home on our patio.  I discovered that it also masks the night sounds when the windows are open.  It turns out the ocean sounds also help Belle sleep without difficulty in different places, so I bring the machine along on our sleepovers.  As an added benefit, I also seem to sleep better with the sound of ocean waves.

I really really like this idea! It's kind of like closing the curtains. I don't need my dogs to be perfectly behaved and obey my every command. I think they're pretty good girls. I just need to manage the behavior that is troublesome. And if masking the outside noise works then that's a very acceptable solution to me!

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