It has been a few days..
since I started trying to train Mara to bark specifically at people but not at dogs or passing cars. The training method seemed to work because now I can just say “Hush” and Mara would stop barking, but she does look at me expectantly because she’s used to getting praise, head pats, or a treat. It’s going to take weeks to properly reinforce this behavior, but for now, I think I’m doing great progress at laying down the groundwork.
Except, there’s one more barking affair I have to address. Maui wants a bite of that training pie. Whenever I place Maui inside the house to train Mara, he would bark as soon as I left. When Mara barks, Maui barks too. Makes me wonder if these two dogs communicate somehow, or if Maui can smell the boiled liver from Mara and also wants to earn liver treats. I like to think that they are indeed communicating, it’s just fun to think that way.
It slightly got in the way of the training because as long as Maui was barking, Mara would continue barking even if I gave her the “hush” command, she would bark in response and somehow start some kind of feedback loop.
I wondered if Maui should be trained to only bark when people are close to the gate, or maybe I should do reinforcement training on him prior to training Mara so that we can get it out of his system, so that’s what I did the next day. We did some of the usual fetch training I’ve been trying to teach him. He does games of fetch fine, but when it comes to actually retrieving an item on the floor, either I’m doing it the wrong way, or it’s one of Maui’s challenges. Either way, it’s bonding time for me and Maui and he likes it.
Sadly that didn’t work. Maui still barks when I start training Mara. Perhaps this is Maui actually feeling jealous because I’m pouring some effort into Mara? It’s not a bad idea though to train him with the same barking conditions. The only thing is that he doesn’t bark that much unless the person is already knocking on the gate, or if he hears kids. Thankfully, he has never shown aggressive behavior when we have visitors with kids, but as soon as he hears the running and noise kids make outside, he barks as if his pride depended on it.
I decided to give it a shot. Sometimes the only way to know things is to try things. I took Mara inside back to the office room and took Maui out and held him on a leash behind the gate. I waited for a person to pass but Maui didn’t bark because he was not close enough. It took a while before a person finally walked closer, it was a delivery guy for my next-door neighbor. Maui barked, but only a few barks then stopped. I suppose that’s the effect of the bark limiter. I clicked and rewarded him with a treat. He was slightly confused but he liked the treat at least.
Some kids ran through the streets after a few minutes, and as expected, Maui barked. Mara also barked, and then I witnessed the feedback loop again. When Maui stops and Mara still barks, Maui starts barking again, which encourages Mara to bark. This was the main reason I lost sleep, which made me realize what I should be training Maui with. I should have thought of this sooner.
I had to train Maui to limit his barking when he’s hearing Mara. That way, they can bark when people are getting too close to the gate and alert us, but not so much that it might disturb the neighbors. I never got an update on the wandering guy though. I can’t think of a good reason why the person would go about checking people’s gates so I’ll keep my wits to myself.
I could use the shock collar’s bark limiter and just make him wear it. It could work because it will limit how much Maui would bark. The microphone doesn’t accidentally trigger from Mara’s barking anyway.
All that effort just boils down to this. Well, if it makes things easier, then I’m happy. I still have to figure out if it works though. I can already see some timing issues, but maybe that’s me overthinking.
I took a 15-minute break and went back to place the collar on Maui and placed him inside. I then took Mara out on a leash and went to the gate again. It took a while for something to pass. It was a car, and it’s always when they rev their engine that makes Mara bark. Maui also barked, but seeing that he stopped after 3 barks, it seemed like he heard the warning beep and stopped. I “hushed” Mara and when she stopped barking, I gave her a treat. This went on for 30 minutes and I stopped because activities outside were starting to wane.
I kept Maui’s bark collar on. I think he’s a little collar-smart now so just to make sure, I’ll keep the collar on until bedtime, which should be around 6 hours.
That night, my lack of sleep was further increased when I heard them barking. It at least seems that Maui keeps his barking at a minimum from the short training session we had. It still woke me up because I know now who they could be barking at. Sure enough, as I peered through the windows in the dark and looked at the gate, I saw the silhouette of someone trying to take a peek.
The next day, I went to our local neighborhood administrative district to update them on the situation. Seeing that it wasn’t just a one-time thing, they assured me that they will patrol around my streets around the hours when I spotted the person. It could be a potential home invader, looking for houses that have items of value or less security.
It’s a serious thing but I am thankful that I had my dogs to alert me. If it wasn’t for Maui and Mara, I would be none the wiser with what’s happening, and reporting this potentially saves my neighbors too, so there’s that. Those two deserve a good reward even though they don’t know what they did, so I’m going to my favorite meat shop to give them each a beef bone they can handle.