Saturday, October 2, 2010

Behold -- The Power of the Shake Can!

Now that the weather is cooling off some, we've been thrilled to be able to have the house open most of the time.  I like to be able to keep the front door open onto the front porch where we can watch the world go by our little corner.  It's one of my favorite things about the arrival of Spring and Fall.

This year, however, things have been a little different.  In specific, that would be the arrival of Miss Morgan.  There are a lot of people who walk past our house and she does not like it.  A favorite evening's entertainment for her is running back and forth from the kitchen window to the front door, barking at any person, dog or leaf that goes past our house.  I really find this less that amusing or charming.  The Greyhounds appear to be less than entertained as well, especially when she leaps over them as they lie on the floor doing their best speed bump impressions. 

I already hear some of the Shepherd people out there getting ready to advise us to redirect her.  Believe me, we're on it.  I started with calling her to me with a simple sit command that I know she understands.  That is not strong enough a lure for her when the Border Collie puppy from down the street walks by.  He could be a closet terrorist, you know!

So, Mr. Taleteller reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out the squirt bottle.  Just the sound of the water sloshing in said bottle strikes fear into the hearts of the Greyhounds -- well, Blueberry and Bunny anyway.  Lilac doesn't hear it and she's shameless anyway.  As Morgan stood barking at the front door and avoiding eye contact with him, which somehow means in her mind that she does not have to listen to a command, he squirted her with the bottle.  In a million to one shot, he got her right in the behind.  Morgan leapt into the air, did a half turn and glared at him in shock.  He told her to be quiet and knock it off.  She replied by giving one final woof.  Ahhh, the joys of the teenage years! 

The other night, I was offering suggestions to a friend about a problem she's had with one of her dogs and I suggested trying a shake can.  Then, like a beam of celestial light, I felt myself illuminated by my own wisdom.  I decided to try a shake can the next time Morgan started her shenanigans.  For those who don't know, a shake can is a metal can left after you get canned fruit or vegetables.  You slice off the open end, fill it with pennies, washers or beebees, then cover it with duct tape.  Sure enough, after dinner was over and we were all settling in to relax for the evening, Morgan's patrol alerted her to possible danger.  I picked up the can and gave it a loud shake.  Morgan froze in her tracks and nearly fell over on the floor.  I told her to knock it off and she did.  Every time she got started and ready to bark, I shook it and she got quiet.  Two days later, she didn't offer to bark at all.  She still patrols from time to time, but so far, nobody on the sidewalk near our house has had heart palpitations or wet their pants.  I consider this one small victory for me, although I know it's possible it won't last.  She looks awfully angelic laying on the dog bed with her nose tucked under her tail for a change!

We're also participating in this Saturday's Pet Blog Hop, hosting by Life With Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers and Confessions of the Plume.  If you'd like to participate, please follow the rules and follow your three hosts, add your blog to the Linky and copy and paste the html code into your html editor.  Thanks again to our hosts for putting on the hop!

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  1. Go Morgan Go!

    The woeful me look works! Work it!


  2. Sometimes I feel like Im reliving my life reading these antics. Squirt bottle on Zoe and Kaiser my 2 GSDs was a failure (oh so much fun to bite the water coming out of the sprayer!)...and that final bark of definance! Morgan is living up to breed go girl.

  3. Eva has the same exact problem as Morgan. She goes berserk whenever someone or a vehicle pass by our house. She will run up and down, to and fro and we can never catch her or calm her down.

    Through friends' suggestions, I used water gun, it failed...then I put some pebbles into a mineral water bottle and shook it, it worked for awhile but then it failed. Ok, I think I'm going to try your shake can. May be it makes a bigger, scarier sound ...

    Thanks!I hope it works for Eva too.

  4. I know all about the shake tin, mines a used tin of Guinnes!! with small pebbles in, it stopped me in my tracks, I've not seen it for months so I must be doing something right.
    See Yea George xxx

  5. hahahaa! NEW GSD owners are funny!

    it doesn't matter what kind of "punishment" you use (it IS a punishment afterall). what matters is giving the alternate behavior right away and THEN rewarding. learning is in the positive, not in the punishment. (well some learning goes on in punishment, but not for the desired outcome).

    i basically tell Loki he's a "good boy" for barking then "that's enough" walk him back away from the bark, and redirect him to a thing he can be rewarded for. all that matters is he/she doesn't get to practice the behavior. he still barks but he's much more tolerant of noises/people going by AND knocks it off faster. i personally think it's fine to alert bark but they need to shut up once you say so. and that's the redirection part.

    it's not easy. it's just consistency over and over again.
    good luck!

    gooooooo MORGAN! you make Loki proud!

  6. btw: in case you misinterpreted... i use punishment to interrupt behavior. (i use leash correction mainly.) but for "me" using punishment NEVER worked with him to even interrupt his barking at strangers. the easiest thing for me was to be happy, physically go over, say good boy and then "that's not for us" or "that's enough"... GSD's do this obviously becaues of their breed. they follow YOUR lead much easier than you think. i'm amazed how staying calm and just, "ok that's enough" and leading him away has done for lowering the cracker behavior. it's a pain in the butt to always have to get up and physically go over to him, but in the end, over time, i have much few reactivity outbursts....

    I'm always learning stuff by experiementing with him. to let him out in the backyard late at night or early a.m., i don't want him barking at noises, so as he works him self up into excitement, i simply say "ssshhh" and in a quiet whisper I say "go potty" and direct him and boom, he shuts his yapper and goes to the bathroom rather than charge out the door and bark at the first bird or noise he hears. they somehow love to follow your lead more than you think!

    i know you didn't want advice... sorry. but i just crack up when i read your morgan stories because i've been there so many times. and I swear, no amount of punishment (tho i use it in other circumstances to interrupt behavior) worked on the "patrolling bark outbursts."

  7. Well done! Morgan is smart, she will soon learn.
    It really is sometimes a matter of seeing what works.
    Really she is just making sure she is keeping you all safe.......loving her hangdog expression!

  8. Morgan is one smart pup. I would love to have seen the look on her face when her bottom was sprayed or the first time she heard the shake can. Now she will learn the difference between doing a useful intruder alert and going cracker dog (not to mention the danger to the hounds with a giant GSD all bouncing about over their meditating selves).


  9. Holy cow I have to try that shake can method! Our 3 dogs take beaking to new levels whenever they even THINK they hear or see something! We have tried so many different things to try to break them of this habit. Thanks for passing that tip along Houndy!

  10. We think we hear Mom in the kitchen making one now.

    Lilly, Piper, Carrleigh and Ruairi

  11. With so many boarders and fosters going thru the house, we always have the squirt bottle handy. Will have to give the shake can a try

  12. Tanks alot!!
    Mom is always looking fur ways to redirect my attention. She is now looking through the recycle bin fur a can to makes me one of dose. ;)

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  13. I loved this post so much that I am one of your newest followers. Found you on the Saturday Blog Hop AND through your kind comment on my blog!
    My Sheltie does the SAME thing! He barks at open garage doors, kids playing ball, anything and everything! The barking drives me insane!
    My husband probably won't like the shake can idea because our Sheltie is so spoiled but I am going to give it a try. I have used it before but not for barking. Thanks!!

  14. i wonder if the shake can will work with Dom... he does the same thing too.. his job is to secure the house. Our neighbourhood is not one of the safest.. and sometimes when he barks... i do know that someone/something is out there. I never did try to stop him when he barks at every person that passes by. Maybe its the GSD breed... they are more wary... and very protective of the family unit.

  15. I like to bark too and Mom or Dad usually say unh-uh.

    Oops, I just heard her looking for a can.

  16. Aw yes, the infamous shake can. We see it used here and it is quite effective. The key is not to overdo it and use the shock factor to its fullest. Morgan is a smart pup - she gets it. Way to go, Mom.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  17. Glad to hear Morgan responded to the shake can!!The teenage years are so much fun:)
    We tried a squirt bottle on Leroy once, and that kind of backfired because he thought it was just a new way to drink water!

  18. Morgan - Don't let anyone stop you keeping an eye open for those closet terrorists ! A girls got to do what a girls got to do !

  19. Ahh, now you've gone and given mom a bad idea. The water bottle never worked for me, I like water.

  20. Glad you found an idea that works. I haven't used a shake can with Bogart since he was a pup because the water bottle works wonders with him. He absolutely hates that thing. All I need to do is say "water bottle" and he stops barking. lol

  21. I'm so pleased Beryl and Frankie are so 'good' that I haven't had to resort to either a squirt bottle or shake can to stop any bad/unwanted behaviour as I hate the idea. But I have had a dog in the past where the shake can was effective. Morgan looks so angelic:-)

  22. Really?????? Mum just went to rinse out a can!!!!! We bark aaaaaaaaallda time and dat is NO exageration. We live on main st. so you can just imagine all da peoples dat walk on out street (and at all hours) and we gets our little chorus going. But of course, mum has tried to redirect us and her is a total failure. VET says we should be allowed to bark momentarily but then we should stop when asked (yea right).
    Crap, her coming back in with dat darn soup can.


  23. The shake can sounds like it worked wonders! Our dogs think that the squirt bottle is an amazing water game - they are labradors, after all!

    We actually allow our dogs to alarm bark when they first sight someone coming near our house (a fairly rare event) but then we say "thank you" and redirect them. We do like having their warning of wayward people entering our space. That wouldn't work as well in the city though if the foot traffic is high, I'm guessing.

    I love the speed bump analogy!

  24. I just finished barking at the mail carrier. Why do they have to come by my house at all. Mom and Dad say it's just bills and they don't like bills. I don't know why I get in trouble when he comes since he brings bills and they hate bills. Are bills like squirrels?

    Anyway, my mom is looking in the recycling for a can right now. I can't say I am happy about that.


  25. I understand Morgan's point of view. I once saved my entire family from a Taco Bell bag that breached my yard!

    Nubbin wiggles,

  26. Hi there! Just found your blog via the Blog Hop!

    We're working on this same problem, especially with Halloween on the way. It'd be nice to be able to keep the front door open without having Shiva freak out at everything that passes by. Since Shiva's just getting over her fear of water, I don't want to resort to that but a shake can may not be a bad idea. Thanks for being a guinea pig!

  27. Ah Morgan (sigh) - We totally understand your dilemma: Do you do your job and protect your home and family or do you try to please them by not barking? What they don't seem to understand is that you a better equipped to determine what's a threat and what's not, right? That's where the communication gap comes in - you'll just have to agree to disagree on that one and humor the folks when they're around. Remember, you can always bark when they're not around. Shhhh, don't tell 'em we said that!
    The Road Dogs

  28. NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not THE CAN!!!!! All mom has to say is "I am getting THE CAN" and I is at her mercy. She even knows how to make a portable pawket size one in an Altoids tin. It is horribull, I tells you. The moms has founded the key to turning off the shepherd woofing with the horribull tortures of THE CAN. So sad. We should revolt about this. Or call PETA.

    Anyways, I did not wear my backpack hiking in NH yesterday coz it woz big time hunting season and mom wanted me to has more and brighter orange on so I not be looking deerlike. Plus, mom knowed there would be lots of ponds with swimming opportunities and the vest duss not hold water like the backback duss which meant mom did not has to keep rememmering to take the backpack off of me afore I would go in the water.

  29. ..d(^^)b... 2 thumbs up for Morgan... haha...

  30. Me and Brudder Ranger have taught mom to say "thank you" whenever we alert her to suspicious activities outside, and then to go gets us a yummy treat. It works every single time! (Um, but don't tell her that sometimes I bark just to gets the treat.)

    Wiggles & Wags,

  31. I think that's a brilliant idea... for my neighbor's little miniature pincher who barks non-stop every night. Glad Morgan is beginning to response to the can.

    Licks, hero

  32. thank you for the shake can idea! asa and booker get pretty excited when the doorbell rings and we try to let anyone inside our house. they mock the squirt bottle and actually try to catch the water in their mouths like it's a game. i do believe the shaker can might bring about the more desired result. :)

    the booker man and asa's mama


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