Ray Barker?

Within a relatively short time of Ray moving in with us, we could have called him Ray Barker. In fact we called him Ray Anatolian because, apart from sounding quite aristocratic, we believed at the time that he was part Anatolian Shepherd.

2013 03 03 2Above: Anatolians vs Ray!

A DNA test clarified that he was a mix of German Shepherd and Rottweiler, but Ray Anatolian is still on his veterinarian records!

Ray Barker would have been more appropriate because he barked for many reasons but, in the context of this Post, it was when he could not get his own way. Over the course of the first year with us, he slowly got his barking in general under control however, this was one circumstance which continued.

Ray had always been very amiable as long as treats were involved however, if he decided that it was time for another treat, and none were forthcoming, he would bark! Our response was very predictable and consistent. He got nothing!

It seemed to take him quite some time before he realised that barking did not serve any purpose. He even tried adding a little lunge with the bark, but he eventually seemed to understand that intimidation tactics did not get him anywhere either! (I have had kids. I am immune to intimidation tactics!)

Everything was working out fine until we started working on his socialization issues, particularly with people. Ray’s background was a total unknown however, he was obviously very uncomfortable when close to people he did not know. He would present his standard bark and lunge routine hoping that they would go away! When we eventually got him to the point where he was more comfortable around strangers, he slowly progressed to allowing them to touch him.

Part of his training at this point involved the stranger giving him treats, and local Pet Stores were perfect to start working with as they freely handed over treats to visiting dogs and were very comfortable doing so.

The first negative situation that got our attention was at Lululemon* which we just took as an isolated incident. We were having a conversation and took our eyes off Ray at around the same moment as he decided he wanted another treat. Our lesson from that was simply to try and avoid being distracted. He gives lots of body language “messages” but, if we are not looking at him………………..!

There were isolated repeat performances but we have recently noticed a slight increase in them! He has not done it to us for the longest time, presumably because he knows it serves no purpose. He does not however apply the same rationale to other people even though he has no track record of it working in those circumstances either!

We are now watching him very carefully after he has been given a treat and, as soon as he tenses up, we intervene with a diversionary tactic or simply remove him from the situation. If another treat was forthcoming (but just not on his timing), then he has to work for it. He’s a smart boy. He’ll get it eventually!

*See Post “The Lululemon Touch” – Nov 24, 2014

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24 thoughts on “Ray Barker?

  1. Just curious you said you had him DNA tested. Did you do this with a kit that you got on the internet or did you have your vet do it. I too have a rescue that has a lot of issues. I would like to identify his breed, hopefully in helping me deal with some of his issues.

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  2. Lexi’s Mom here.I just loved (I have had kids. I am immune to intimidation tactics!) It sounds like you are doing things right, being consistent and not letting him get his own way much and rewarding good behavior. Good for you! If you haven’t read it, “The Other End of the Leash” might be helpful. I can truly say it is one of the best books I have ever read of any genre. I got it electronically on my Kindle and am on my second read-through. Very enlightening.

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  3. Big-time Anatolian traits, but no matter what he is, most handsome. Having had a ‘talker’ in the form of an OES, I know what you’ve encountered. It can be maddening, but patience and consistency make for better pups. Good luck and kudos for realizing it’s an ongoing thing with a dog with an unknown history.

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  4. Barking was one thing we were worried about when we bought the boat. Maggie had proven very good in the tent and didn’t bark when people walked by. However, she recognises footsteps here and if the step doesn’t match people she knows, she barks! Not once, twice, but all the time. Our method is to say No sharply and hold her snout for a few seconds. It seems to get the message across, but she still has the last word and squeaks instead. We get to know our pets and their little quirks don’t we. All part of our (human) training process I guess!

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  5. He has made giant Ray steps…they all have like us their own quirky ways..and bless em like us they can revert to old ways..i mean i am nearly 54 and find myself sometimes doing things i ‘think’ will get me results..maybe they did once..but now not so…but hey we all take little steps back before big leaps forward 🙂

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  6. I just thought how much of special characteristics and attitudes you come to know since he is was an adult dog when you got him. A lot of things to be watched and cared. But I think that makes the strong bond between you all.

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    • Hi Erika. A good point. Ray, like any dog, is communicating regularly in his own way. He is so much more relaxed and generally “easy going” when he knows that his “messages” are being understood. That sounds typical of most humans in that we can get pretty frustrated if we are trying to make a point and nobody appears to be listening!

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      • Yes, I totally get that. Dogs cannot speak with words but they (as all animals) communicate in their way. Since they are so bond and loyal to the human world they want to be understood by us. They want to be our buddies. And as you say it is frustrating if their peeps don’t make the effort to understand them.

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