Help with a barking dog

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Law, Jan 26, 2004.

  1. Law

    Law Agent

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    My fiance and I adopted a 10 month old siberian husky last friday and today had our first problem.

    He was great all weekend, barely making a sound but today when we left for work, he started barking and whining, obviously not to happy about being left alone. I went home over the lunch hour to see how he was doing and found a note under my door complaining about the noise.

    We live in a loft in a 90 year old warehouse, the walls are a foot and a half thick and made of exposed brick so noise doesn't travel that way. The floor and ceiling, however, are the same old original wood floors and I guess one of our neighbours didn't appriciate the barking. I can't say I blame them, I'd have probably complained too. Being the good neighbour, I don't want to bother anybody so I'm wondering if anybody has any suggestions about how to keep little Baldur quiet while we're gone.

    It'll only be for a month as I bought my first house and am moving in March 1st, then he can make as much noise as he wants, but until then, I need some help.
     
  2. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    Most pet shops carry a special $50 collar that discourages barking with a small electric zap triggered by noise. It sounds cruel, but is not as bad as you may think.

    I had a nasty neighbor and a Lab that wouldn't respond to anything. To make matters worse he only barked when we were out. We put the collar on him and went for a drive around the block. Problem solved first time.

    From then on we removed the batteries and just put the collar on him. (didn't want ambient sounds acidentally triggering the shock) He never seemed to mind and the neighbors had to change to complaining about other things. (which they did) [​IMG]
     
  3. Walt N

    Walt N Second Unit

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    I trained my Lab not to bark when I'm home by using a shake can, but she still barked when I left so I tried a shock collar. I followed the instructions to the letter, but I stopped using it after a short time since even though it was somewhat effective, it scared her too much and seemed more cruel to me than what the manufacturer suggested. Every dog is different, but this wasn't a great solution for mine.

    Recently I tried an electronic collar that sprays harmless citronella in front of (not directly on) her muzzle and it has worked wonders. That stuff smells fine to me, but dogs hate it. Highly recommended. They're very expensive at pet stores, but I was able to find one online for around $90.

    Cornell University did a study on these and found them to be quite effective, more so than shock collars. My results concur with their findings as the result were more immediate and lasting. You can read about it here: http://westwoodanimalhospital.com/Bh...bark_study.htm

    Good luck.
     
  4. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    I would start by making sure he isn't "bored" which is the top cause of anxiety barking. LOTS of interesting toys and chewey things would be my first approach. If bordom IS the cause of the barking, a shock collor probably won't make you happy, as the dog will simply move to other more destructive (but rewarding to the dog at least) behavior (like chewing up your HT remote control, or gnawing the finish off your nautilus speakers, for example).

    Have a talk with the neighbor who left the note. Tell them you got a new dog, and you have no intention of letting it bark, but for them to give you some time to break him of the habbit, and that you'd like him to let you know if the dog keeps it up while you're away (after all, how will you know if what you're trying is working?)... Unless he's a *^&% he should understand.

    I have nothing against shock collars, but I think you may have better luck addressing the underlying seperation anxiety first.
     
  5. Mark Hayenga

    Mark Hayenga Supporting Actor

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    My 1yr old border collie/springer spaniel mix (Cali) had BAD separation anxiety when I first got her, and again when we moved a year later (didn't like the change in surroundings). It's a common problem with adopted dogs. The first time around my neighbors were understanding enough that, over the course of two or three weeks, I was able to get her to stop barking when I left. I did this through the 'recommended' exercises. Some Saturday morning, act like you are going through your normal weekday getting-ready routine and pretend to leave; wait outside and see how long it takes her to start barking (in Cali's case it was 90 seconds [​IMG]). That's your baseline. Go back inside, let the dog know you're there, then leave again for 1/2 the time it took her to start barking. Repeat while slowly building up that time. If the dog understands that yes, you will eventually be coming back, they will be less likely to get anxious and bark. This takes time though (days/weeks).

    The second time around (when I moved) my neighbors weren't near as understanding (as in anonymous threatening letters) so I had to go the $50 shock collar route (get the cheap one, the more expensive ones aren't really any better). I put it on her and observed her the first time she wore it to make sure she understood what the collar meant, ie so she wouldn't just sit there going bark-zap-bark-zap-bark-zap all day long when I was gone. She barked twice with the collar on and got zapped; I think that's the only time she has ever barked with it on since I bought it 6 months ago. I used it continually for the 1st month and now just intermittently when I need to be sure she won't bark (ie when I have an evening exam or something similar). They are FAR from cruel if the dog understands what it means. From the first day of wearing it onward, she just lied down and went to sleep whenever I left. I think it's far more cruel to leave a dog and let them get hyper-anxious. Videos of how dogs behave when they're suffering separation anxiety is a real eye-opener as to how bad it is for them.
     
  6. Walt N

    Walt N Second Unit

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    The shock collar will work well for some dogs (50% in the study I linked), but the citronella collar is likely to work for more dogs (88.9% satisfaction reported by users). Instead of spending the $50 for the shock collar and then having to buy the citronella collar later as I did, I'd recommend getting the more effective device right off the bat.
     
  7. Law

    Law Agent

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    Thanks for the suggestions. I took him to work with me today and am running out every hour to take him for short walks. He's a lot happier in the car then when I left him at home.

    I think I'm going to try the 'leave for 5 minutes - come back, leave for 8 minutes - come back' method this saturday. If that doesn't work, I guess I'll try the shock coller.

    Thanks again for the help (my first dog).
     
  8. Keith Hyde

    Keith Hyde Stunt Coordinator

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    The behavior occurs while you are away, which makes immediate correction impossible. Immediate correction is a must, since the dog must correlate action to reaction and can only do so in a very short time frame. With this particular problem though, you can't come running back in every time it starts to correct it - then they are training YOU.

    As some mentioned above, seperation anxiety is your main culprit, but other things may be at play too. For instance, I have a dog that when put in a wire "crate" gets extremely emotionally distressed causing her to constantly cry and salivate (like covering the whole floor pan), which then continues on to vomiting. If I am in the room with hands in the cage, or if she is left completely alone for hours - the same thing happens. This forced me to test free roam of the house earlier than I had wanted, but to my delight, when she was allowed the entire house or portions of instead of the crate, the problem disappeared and there were no other problems (chewing , scratching, or otherwise - definitiely no more drooling and vomiting). Another dog took to crate training perfectly, still runs to the crate when I say "Kennel", though I haven't made him use it for a couple years now.

    Also, you can stagger your outings to condition the stress. Starting off, only leave them alone for 30 minutes before you return. Do this until 30 minutes isn't a big deal, then lengthen your outings. Work up. This is tough or impossible for some to do, but if you can manage coming home every chance you get during the workday for a couple weeks to check-in, the shift to 8 hour stretches may come easier.

    I say get a bark collar if the new pup doesn't adjust within the week or you can't schedule to ease into the seperation in lengthening increments. Most collars are adjustable so you can start low and work up to a level that is not overly painful yet effective. Problem with many collars is that the dog gets used to them - they learn when they are or are not on the neck, so after his behavior is corrected, you may discontinue the use of the shock collar but may need to then use a dummy collar to keep your dog fooled (a collar with dummy non-electrical pegs).

    Electronic training often gets a bad rap - undeservedly so. I have seen electronic training collars work miracles. Lessons learned in two easy corrections, versus months of throwing beer cans full of stones, chasing down the dog, endless calling, and worrying about Fido's fate while they crest the next hill and over the road after the bird, rabbit, squirrel or other dog. If used properly, the worst trait can be conditioned "off." I am more familiar with training collars than bark collars. Also, many training collars offer tones or vibrations, in addition to adjustable levels of shock.

    You may check among folks at a Dog Park, pet store, humane society, vet, etc. for the availability of used collars. Often shockers are so effective that their job is done within a couple months and the need for shock correction disappears. This is when these expensive devices begin to make rounds through circles of friends, training clubs, etc - and usually at a bargain.

    If you still question shockers, try it on yourself first (if you don't have a pacemaker). Uncomfortable - yes, that's the point. When shocked when you least expect it - very suprising and uncomfortable. Inhumane - no.

    Just my opinion. This stuff can be like child rearing from what I've seen - what some espouse others deride.

    Best of luck. Now if I could only keep mine from cruising the countertops after I leave the house, that'd be great! More mousetraps on the way!
     

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