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Cairn capers....sigh


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Hi!!! Ok.... little Alfie now at 5 1/2 months.... he's a really sweet little guy. We are just very slowly getting over the potty challenge and things are much better.

However now we have a new challenge....never seen it before and he is my 4th Cairn in this house. Alfie has decided that every truck and/or truck and trailer, also school buses, anything loud, is a  potential threat. Its bad in the yard (fenced acre) and worse on walkies. Its a long country road and although not too much traffic,  he goes absolutely mental and devil dog, lunging, barking and generally freaking out. Hes on a leash with harness. I have tried picking him up, hiding his eyes, scolding, distraction with treats which he doesn't notice cause he's too busy taking on the cars. I stopped walking him with Ella for a while but he feels left out and waits for us at the gate. 

Maybe he will grow out of this? Any ideas? 


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it might pass for many reasons, including boredom, but sounds like you want it gone sooner rather than later. it is also true that dogs and especially cairns can train themselves to get triggered by certain cues. i always tried a general preventative of having my dog sit (learned) when meeting people, or hearing a weird sound, or seeing a strange dog. worked about 3/4 of the time (after age 3). i would hope a behaviorist would have a more targetted solution for this. certainly not strange cainr behavior and my guess would be, given his age, that this might be protective--he's trying to scare off threats to you. if his behavior get you all bent up and loud, it will probably look to him like proof that heu's right that you are upset by the noises (it certainly isn't going to occur to him that he is the problem). i would suggest that you do everything you can to convince him that you are not scared by or threatened by these noises. if you can convince you simply don't hear them, even better. but, again, given that this is pretty typical cairn behavior, there must be tried and true solutions. 

Edited by pkcrossley
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What can we say?The title of that book says it all "Born to Bark"!

Angus had similar barkings at traffic as Alfie when a youngster. Can't remember the exact age. Ours was a pretty quiet road like Alfie's maybe. But all of a sudden he began this furious frenzied barking when a vehicle of any kind went by. It seemed to me like some kind of challenge. I tried all kinds things. Had some luck when I walked him out at the time the school bus came by. Made him sit then said "quiet" as the ruckus started. If he was quiet for a bit I rewarded with "good boy" and a treat. 

However what finally did the trick was taking him to town ( It's a small country town). Sitting on a bench on Main Street with him leashed by my side. Doing nothing but watch the traffic go by. Just a few minutes at first and gradually longer. Less and less barking as time went by. The only thing I ever said was. "OK Angus time to go" as I got up and walked on. Eventually he took no notice of traffic as it took no notice of him.

If traffic came up our driveway he barked which I thought was a proper time to bark.

I think there was a challenge in the barking but I also thought there was some fear especially with motor bikes revving. As he realised nothing bad was happening he began to relax. The roaring noise was loud but never attacked him. He'd be on alert sometimes but not freaking out. He returned to normal barking at squirrels etc.

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MOST interesting.

I may need to carry Toto to a city bench and let him experience traffic noises.  His barking has improved somewhat, but boy!, have we had to be consistent.  Parenting Rule No. 1, huh?

Our home backs up to a semi-busy rural road, and we are separated by a small creek and woods.  Motorcycles, and loud-er engine noises, really set him off.  Lots of car traffic early in the a.m. as families make their way to a charter school maybe a 2-3 miles down the way, and then again around 2:00, but that is more than likely our nap time in the house, and if he is in his 'room' he is not inclined to bark his head off.

Nothing has been incredibly successful.  Water in a spritzer is a 'game' to him; adding lemon makes it tasty (and I worry about spraying his eyes; rattling stones or coins in a can becomes an interesting invitation to add to the cacophany and I am sure awakens the entire neighborhood.

Thanks for sharing this.  I do know that if he is distracted, he is less-inclined to chime-in with the engine noises.

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ALL of these are good suggestions.

I especially like the suggestion that you, the owner, remain calm and assertive.  (Seems like that's Caesar's catch-phrase.)  Toto assumed I was excited when I hollered for him to stop barking, and then there were the two of us raising all grades of Cain.  I have also asked that whoever corrects him when he barks like this to get his attention, as best one can, and say "NO bark."

I also have to accept, to some extent, terriers are barkers by nature.  What makes it bad for me is that my first Toto only barked if there was reason to, and once I let him know I was aware of the situation and said, "OK, Toto.  I got this.,"  he would get quiet (and wag his tail-off at *whoever* and whatever).  Some guard dog.

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Just now, Toto-lee Cairn said:


Oh, my! . . . make that. . .  and then there were the two of us raising all grades of Cain. .  .  all grades of Cairn . 


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