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Barking Dog and “Grandparents”

My dog is quiet with me (barking only a 2 or 3 times), but barking more frequently (every 10-20 min) when with my parents. When Lady’s with me, she isn’t alerted much by noises outside but with my parents, she becomes more sensitive and barks at them. I think that it is possible to train my dog to bark minimally (not never), whereas my parents assume her barking in general is just “natural” and allow it. They let the dog as she pleases, and I am concerned that if we don’t properly train her, it could get worse. Is training a dog to be quieter wrong?

– Sang

Hi Sang,

I personally don’t allow any where near the amount of barking that a lot of households put up with. If something is unusual, barking is permissible, if not and it needs my attention I have a doorbell and don’t need a wildly barking dog getting itself into a state even before the person gets inside. In fact when starting a new dog I’m pretty clear that, “This is my house and you just live here.” If an alarm needs to be sounded “I sound it, you don’t.” I think this takes a lot of pressure away from the dog. Most aren’t really useful watch dogs at all, just nuisance barkers or what I call “Shut Up! Barkers.” I can’t imagine it does a dog’s long term health that good to get so wound up multiple types a day either.

Regarding your parents, you seem to be describing less of an alarm type barking and more of a “I want!, I want!, I want! – Pay attention to me!, Pay attention to me!” type barking and your parents (as many “grandparents” are) seem happy to cater to the dog. I’m betting you don’t have any children yet otherwise you will have recognized this as “grandparent’s privilege”. Grandparents are generally a lot more relaxed (permissive) with a grand child’s behaviour but not one would continue in that manner if the grandchild became their full-time responsibility. They figure they can just play the “good guys” as they know you’re assuming the more balanced role required to raise the “kid/dog”.

It’s probably no more of a problem then it would be were it to be an actual child other then the frustration of getting the “kid” re-grounded when it returns back to the real world/home. However if your parents are spending a lot of time with the dog it’s fairly certain that their treatment of the dog will have more lasting impact on the dog’s behaviour at your place. So essentially, a little dose of “grandparents” now and then never ruined any child or dog but if they’re spending a lot of time it’s better (less stressful) for both the dog (and you) to send a more consistent message.


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