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Barking

Maltipoo Barking Issues

Overview
 
In this section we will cover all of your questions about Maltipoo barking issues.

Do Maltipoos Bark a Lot?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions from owners of this amazing hybrid dog. And the answer is interesting because there are most definitely some breeds that are very vocal and others that have very quiet tendencies. So where does the Maltipoo fit in?

There will always be triggers and environmental reasons for barking, however when discussing if the Maltipoo is a barker in regard to a breed trait or characteristic, we must look to both the Poodle and the Maltese.

Some dogs were bred to be barkers (watchdogs, guard dogs, hunting dogs) and some breeds are barkers due to enthusiasm or a general need for attention.

Most people are surprised to know that there is no official list or statistics of dogs that bark the most. In addition, breed standards make no mention of barking, as it is a behavior and not an appearance element.

When you see lists that tell you the nosiest or quietest breeds, these are simply a general consensus of which dogs have reputations as barkers; and these vary quite a bit. Everyone from Purina to Reader's Digest has their own opinions. 

Most will have the Beagle listed, along with other hound dogs such as the Bloodhound and Coonhound. However, while one list will have the Jack Russell Terrier at #8, another will  say that it is the Chihuahua. 

It's all really a matter of public (and even personal) opinion, breed history (which is why dogs in the hound category are there) and reputation -even if it is not true - which is why some toy breeds are always listed.  
Maltipoo 7 months old
Harvey, 7 months old
Photo courtesy of Urjit Dave
Toy breeds - being as small as they are - have gained a reputation as being barkers. The Chihuahua can be found on most listings and while he may indeed be deserving of that, other dogs such as the Yorkshire Terrier and yes, both the Maltese and the Toy Poodle can be found on some as well. Very rarely will the Standard Poodle be called out as a barker; and much of this has to do with size.

So, while both the Maltese and the Toy Poodle are sometimes listed, neither breed has an overly bad reputation for being an excessive barker. These two breeds that create a Maltipoo are neither hound dogs or have any major history as watchdogs. Therefore, looking at this purely from a breed trait that was purposefully developed or as a characteristic byproduct of development, the Maltipoo is not an excessive barker. 

In regard to other factors such as his size, the Maltipoo is a toy sized breed and therefore will have the reputation of being a barker due to the perceived notion by some that all small dogs bark a lot.

With this being said, a Maltipoo will bark. There are very few dogs that do not. Ahead, we will look at the reasons why a Maltipoo may bark and some tips to help curb unnecessary vocalization.  
The 3 Main Reasons a Maltipoo Will Bark & How to Help Stop It

While dogs do communicate via tag wagging, body positioning and even such things as eye contact and lip licking, barking will always be a canine's main method of communication. Sometimes a Maltipoo will bark a lot in an attempt to convey a need and other times the dog is essentially speaking to himself as barking will be a way to release frustration. Let's look at the top causes of barking:

1) Barking for Attention - Domesticated dogs are not meant to be alone; their entire purpose is to be our companions. When you look at it that way, it's completely normal for a Maltipoo to bark when he's left alone or is not getting attention from his owners.

When in a loving environment and will all needs met in a timely manner, an older adult Maltipoo is often more secure in his schedule and will not bark as much as puppies. He knows that his owners will be back, he knows that even if he is sitting by himself as his humans are busy with other things that he will be taken outside for a walk, etc. 

Older dogs are terrific with internal time clocks. They know when things 'should' happen. If something does not happen as expected, this can trigger barking. In addition, an adult may bark due to separation anxiety if it is new or if it has not been handled properly and has been a continuing issue.
Maltipoo puppies bark much more than adults because they live in the moment. They will not hesitate to bark at the first inkling of a need. Even if you played with your puppy an hour ago or you plan to take him for a walk as soon as you finish your emails, his patience level is zero and he has no qualms about barking to get your attention.

How to fix this - There are a few things that you can do to help stop attention seeking behavior.

1- Having a really solid schedule that you follow as closely as possible can really help a lot. It helps to write it down and tape it to the fridge. There should be set times each day for: daily walks (2 is best, one in the morning, one in the early evening), command training sessions, one-on-one interactional play, feedings, grooming (brushing, dental care) and set times to wind things down for the night (dimmed lights, lowered noise level, relaxed activity) to help a Maltipoo calm down for a better night's sleep.

While a puppy won't learn it in a week, this is the best way to teach a Maltipoo that he will receive attention on a regular basis. This later will cut down on barking as the dog learns that time alone is temporary and he can count on attention at certain times of the day.

Barking at night also falls under this category of barking for attention and we will cover that in much more detail ahead. 
Maltipoo puppy small white and tan
Lani, 3 months old
Photo courtesy of Claudia Orozco
2- Don't mistakenly teach your Maltipoo that barking causes you to give attention. What's the first thing that owners do when their puppy or dog barks for no reason? They say 'Shhhh!" or "Stop that!". That teaches a dog that barking = attention, which is why the dog barked in the first place.

It's best to ignore barking BUT also give a distraction, ending with reward for when the barking stops. The last thing you want to do is to have a battle of the wills because a puppy or dog can bark for a much longer time than your patience can hold out. 

For daytime barking, without saying a word, you'll want your dog to re-focus his attention on a toy that holds interest (more in a bit on which toys encourage self-play) and otherwise ignore any barking. Don't give the toy directly to your dog (that will be interpreted as being rewarded for barking); it's best to lead your Maltipoo to his toy area or choose the appropriate toy and place it at your feet (or wherever your dog is).

The moment that a dog quiets down (even if it is to take a breath or he just plain tired out), that is the time to talk, give pats and even a treat. Within just days, this can teach a dog to calm down since it quickly shows that not barking = attention while at the same time teaching the dog that there are options to stay busy with toys. 

3- Do check for a valid need. Your dog needs to count on you that if there is a valid reason for barking that you will attend to the problem. 
You don't want to be ignoring your Maltipoo's barks if he knocked his water bowl over and has nothing to drink or needs to be brought outside.
2) Barking due to Boredom - Maltipoos, like any other dog, will bark when bored; this happens when the dog receives no outside stimulus. Without something to interrupt the boredom, the barking may last for hours. Prolonged periods of isolation coupled with nothing to distract a dog can result in an almost robotic type yelping, where it appears that the puppy or dog is barking rhythmically.  

How to fix this - One of the most effective ways to stop a Maltipoo from barking due to boredom - keeping in mind that you already have a good schedule of activity as discussed above - is to teach the puppy to play independently. While dogs will chew at just about anything and even chase their own tails if they have nothing else to do, many will simply fall into rhythmic barking without stimulus. 

It helps to have an array of different toys; this includes not only chews but also treat-release and importantly, toys that encourage independent play. The best toys for a Maltipoo to cut down on barking due to boredom are those that are made to hold a dog's interest and give the dog a reward - this does not have to just be treats. Reward from a toy can be entertainment (the toy reacts to touch) or interesting noises. The right toy can keep a dog busy for hours. 

You'll also want to keep 2 separate toy bins, alternating them so that every other week or so, your dog is given 'new' items. Do, however, always keep his favorites out at all times because many Maltipoos can quickly become attached to certain toys.
3) Barking due to fear/ stress, nervousness - Each dog has his own phobias, fears and triggers of elements that will induce barking. Anything that causes a Maltipoo to be on alert can additionally prompt him to become vocal. He may just be on guard or something may be causing him to feel as if he needs to go into 'protection' mode of himself, the entire family and/or the house. This can include other animal outside, cars driving by, etc.

If a dog cannot figure out if a sound is a threat, he will often fall back on the assumption that it is unless proven otherwise. Therefore, an array of noises and stimulus can cause a Maltipoo to feel nervous which then manifests as barking.

Other barking triggers for a Maltipoo may be a noise that is irritating to the super-sensitive canine hearing that he possesses. Typically this includes high pitched, piercing sounds such as car alarms and sirens. 

How to fix this - There is not much you can do about outside, unexpected triggers such as police sirens or the neighbor's pulling up the drive each night. Most of these events are short-lived and barking should cease as soon as the dog is distracted, even if briefly.

What's important is to offer assurance that 'all is fine' without offering comfort that could be interpreted as confirmation that there is indeed a danger. Overly soothing words should be avoided and instead an owner should speak in a matter-of-fact tone that implies the barking trigger is a normal, expected part of life that requires neither attention nor worry.

Dogs are fantastic at picking up their owner's feelings; humans send out a vibe whether we mean to or not. Often, if a dog is yapping away and owners become frustrated and begin to raise their voices and appear agitated, this can cause the dog to bark even more. It can be an endless cycle.

The best advice for this - and many other situations is: Distract, ignore, reward with attention when the barking stops.
What to Do When a Maltipoo Barks at Night

This is most definitely up on the list of top complaints that owners have about puppies and rightly so. When a puppy is up half the night, it means that you are up as well and this sort of interrupted sleep can cause an array of issues.

The trickiest part of this is that owners don't know why the puppy is barking. Puppies are great at making us think that they need immediate rescue. And if that rescue does not arrive, the barking can become so annoying that we're ready to do anything to make it stop. And unfortunately, that right there can be the reason that a Maltipoo continues to do it.

Here's a great guide to follow that will help you identify the reason for the barking, attend to it if needed and if not, train your Maltipoo to stop barking and self soothe.  
1) Prep your puppy or dog for bedtime. The last meal of the day and a brisk walk should be done 2 hours before bed. Most owners find that feeding dinner first with a 20 minute rest before a good 30 minute walk works best. Bring your Maltipoo to his designated bathroom area right before you start the walk and as you arrive back home. 

One hour before intended sleep time, the house should go into 'relax' mode. Lights should be dimmed and noises (TV, music, etc.) turned down.

20 minutes before bed, it is time for one last bathroom trip and be sure to allow your Maltipoo enough time to do so; at least 10 to 15 minutes.

2) Have a complete area set up for your dog. A cushion or blanket placed in a crate is a surefire recipe for barking at night. Dogs don't like to feel confined and while you do need to keep a puppy confined to one spot, it's best to have a gated off area with a proper, quality bed. There should be toys and water. It's surprising how many puppies bark at night simply because they were not near their water supply. When the water bowl is placed with the puppy, it does increase the need to later urinate but since a hydrated pup will tend to sleep more and not stay awake barking for water, it's the better choice.

3) Keep things super quiet if you must attend to needs. If your Maltipoo is safe, ONLY if you feel that it is reasonable that the barking is due to bathroom needs should you go to him at night. If so, keep lights dim, do not speak at all unless it is to whisper 'good dog' once the deed is done, and with a quick pat put him right back into his area and walk away.
4) Allow for self-soothing. If you are sure that your dog is warm and safe and does not have a housebreaking need, barking should be ignored. It's not always easy to do this. There'll be some pain now (staying up in bed, wondering how you can be so cruel to let him yelp, whimper and bark as if he's in mortal danger) to save you later (months if not years of a learned behavior that if he barks at night, you'll come running).

One of the best things you can do when your Maltipoo puppy barks at night for attention is to allow him to self-sooth by cuddling up with a warm blanket and playing with toys until he tuckers out.
Reader Q&A

Q: Is it okay to let my Maltipoo sleep with me to stop her from barking? She will bark on and off all night if I leave her alone in her playpen. But if I take her into my bed, she quiets right down and sleeps like a baby. She's happier and I get more sleep this way too. So, is it okay to just let her sleep with me to stop the otherwise endless yelping? I can't blame her for not wanting to be alone and I like having her in the bed with me, but I don't know if it's wrong.
A: This is a very common question because you can almost guarantee that a puppy that's barking at night due to feeling alone and wanting attention will immediately stop if brought into his owner's bed. 
sad looking Maltipoo
Gracie, 10 months old
Photo courtesy of Leanne
There are both pros and cons to letting your Maltipoo sleep in the bed with you. The main con is that you won't be giving your Maltipoo puppy the opportunity to learn self-soothing. When you let a puppy learn how to do that, it's essentially giving them a gift of self-confidence that will come in very handy for other events and situations. Learning to be by herself at night may help her rest better if left home alone and of course any times in the future if you are not available.

If barking at night is ignored, a puppy often grows up to be an adult that doesn't bother even trying to bark hours on end for attention; they know it won't work. But if a puppy does not learn that rule, it will have to be taught at other times.

You'll also want to think about house training issues. If she is not yet fully trained, this could be a good or bad thing. If she wakes you right up when she has to go, that would be okay. But if not, you may find yourself waking up in a puddle of urine or stepping into something when you're half awake and step down onto the floor. So, part of this should be based on if she gives you signals and how light/heavy of a sleeper you are to be awoken from them. 

The other thing to think about is that dogs quickly become very accustomed to their bed. In this case, it will be your bed. You'll have to commit to sharing it essentially forever if you go this route. When young, there is always the danger of a pup being rolled over or falling off the bed, etc. For adults, well…. While the Maltipoo is a small sized dog, expect her to claim the entire mattress. 

With that said, if you have carefully thought through the above cons, there is nothing inherently wrong with letting your Maltipoo sleep with you. Only if a dog is having trouble understanding that his human is the leader, we then discourage this. And of course, it's comforting to cuddle up at night with your Maltipoo; it's a great way for humans and dogs to bond.
Q: My 1 year old Maltipoo barks at everything whenever I take him for a walk.  I mean he really goes insane, jumping up and acting frenzied. It's embarrassing. It's gotten so that I don't even want to take him out; mostly I just go to the end of the driveway, grimace while he barks like a mad dog at any people and cars and then bring him back in. Please help.

A: This is not uncommon and many owners react the same way that you are: they stop taking their dog for a walk because it save them from dealing with all the barking and crazy behavior. And this is a shame since this breed needs daily exercise and the opportunity to learn control when outside.

It is important to know that the main reason a Maltipoo will bark at other people, cars, other dogs, etc. is that these are 'new' elements that either elicit fear, intense curiosity, or a protective instinct.

If an owner limits exposure to these things, it often never gets better. If walks are cut back to once a week or just to the end of the drive as you do, a dog will never have the chance to really explore the neighborhood and become accustomed to all of the sights and sounds. It's common to feel embarrassed, but there's no need to since just about everyone knows that many dogs do bark until they learn otherwise.
The best way to stop a Maltipoo from barking while being walked is to walk him more. You want for him to see those cars, people and other dogs so much that they become unimportant.

Start going for walks each day. Be sure to use a harness and not a collar while on leash to control jumping and to prevent injury from neck strain. Then, hold your head high and keep walking at a brisk pace. Your Maltipoo will bark along the way and try to jump. You will ignore the barking, keep a firm grip on the leash - keeping it short - and if anyone passes by you can always give a quick "He's not used to things yet" with a shrug.

Within a few weeks, you'll notice that he barks less. A Maltipoo, or any other dog for that matter, will never be voiceless. He may always alert you that a car is coming. Or that a dog is approaching. However, he'll learn from you that this does not mean much and that the walk will continue. 
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