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Yard Barking

Hello Mr Wade

I am having a huge problem with my 17 month old German Shepherd barking constantly when he is outside.   He loves to guard, we have invisible fence so he can run the whole yard which is almost an acre in a small town.  I think its a territorial thing and I just can’t figure out what to do to stop him.  He has some other problems which are my fault,  I have developed arthritis in my back so bad in the past year I cannot handle the dog physically and now cannot walk him on a leash as he needs.

We tried a bark collar on him last year when he was a puppy, it worked but he got diarrhoea every time we used it. I called the vet and they said the spray collar “might work” or a basket muzzle. I am thinking muzzle but hate to do it.

I should never have gotten a big dog but too late now.

Hi P.S.

You can’t leave a German Shepherd in a yard alone unsupervised until they are 2 – 3 years old and depending on their bloodlines, sometimes unless you want to develop a barking and/or guard dog aggression issue. Any more then you can leave a 4 year old alone in a mall all day and be surprised when they tell you, “Mom, Dad, you wont’ believe how many chocolate bars I found in the mall today. Want some?” Kids are natural candy eaters and German Shepherds any many other breeds are natural guard dogs. I don’t leave any dog in a yard alone unsupervised until they’re adults. The air is no fresher outdoors then in, and they’re not getting any useful exercise. At the very least without your guidance they just learn to bark at any little thing. Most dogs are put outside on the above pretence when the reality is they’re out because in they’re goof balls.

When people buy bark collars of any sort, for a dog in this situation they’re trying to solve their problem not the dog’s. It’s possible the collar didn’t cause the diarrhoea. Taking away his outlet for sounding the alarm just short circuited him and the stress gave him the runs. What he needs to learn is that it’s not his house to protect. It’s yours and he just gets to live there. His presence is enough of a deterrent to would be burglars and the facts are that 9,999 out of 10,000 people that walk through your door are welcome guests or at least will go away if you ask them. You don’t need a dog to bite them and that’s what you’re going to get and then sooner or later, it’s bye bye dog.

Overall, you’ve got a corker of a problem. You’ve got a watch dog breed with some drive that has to unlearn a bunch of stuff and learn some new stuff and your bad back is a real training impediment. I doubt you can do this. Your best bet may be to send him off to a good boarding school to get him started and then have them teach you how to take over. If you find the right place it works. I train a lot of dogs for people with physical disabilities like yours, that have M.S., for amputees etc. I’m always happy to see a dog go home that otherwise would end up given away or worse.

Boarding school won’t change not being able to leave him in the yard, that’s a life time rule. I wouldn’t even let him hang around the windows in the house. You get the same territorial reaction when people walk by. However, if you get him trained, you’ll get to walk him more. If he learns a good heel and a perfect recall, he can run places that otherwise would be impossible.

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