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Sunday, September 20, 2009

More barking problems

Hi Jan,
I have four dogs, three of which attended your leadership class when you lived in Yakima. My conundrum is that three of the four bark incessantly when I let them out, or when I first get home from work. The whole neighborhood knows when I get home. The pet sitter recommended a shock collar. I am seriously considering it. I have tried several methods to stop this, one a spray bottle (water), two letting them out one at a time, three, curb them all until they appear calm, then giving them the okay command. (all heck breaks lose). I go in the house and change my clothes until they calm down, then let them out. Still no luck. They do not have this behavior when my husband comes home, unless we arrive at the same time. I know it is most likely me, or something I am doing. They are well behaved otherwise.  Help, I'm looking forward to going deaf!

It sounds like you're doing almost everything sensible and humanly possible to stop the barking.  Don't blame yourself if it's not working.  If I recall, you have some miniature Schnauzers, which are hard-wired to bark. It's one thing to teach ONE dog not to bark, but with three or four dogs, you have "mob rule" and they listen to no one but each other.

Yes, dogs do have different reactions to the return of certain pack leaders.  "Moms" like us tend to elicit the most emotional and vocal response....much more so than "dads."  So there's nothing abnormal there either.

I'm all for using no-bark collars in cases like this.   They do a good job of humanely minimizing the "nuisance" barking.  Your dogs are smart, however, and they will quickly learn they can bark like normal when the collars aren't on them.  You might also consider surgical debarking.  I never used to advocate this, but I've grown to realize that it is not detrimental to the dogs; they'll still make noises as if they're barking, but it just won't be as loud or shrill as it was before.  The dogs don't care what they sound like.  They're "barking" because of their emotional state, not because they're trying to carry a tune.

I'm thinking the cost of debarking several dogs will come close to the cost of investing in three no-bark collars (good ones).  Your results will be more consistent with debarking, and nothing unpleasant will happen to them when they DO "bark."  The shock collars are effective, but you always run the risk of melting down (emotionally) some poor dog who is ultrasensitive.  This can cause even more strange behavior problems down the line.

I am proud of you for what you have already tried with them, even if it hasn't worked.  You were always a good student and a good dog mom!


Carrie said...

I'm having a similar issue with my dogs (mostly just one of them) at my new house. There are three large dogs in the yard behind me that my pug/boston/brussels mix barks at. He also barks at pretty much any noise he hears outside of the fence - I think because he's scared. Giving him commands to stop from a distance doesn't help. Trying to get my hands on him to make him stop results in him running from me. I've tried multiple times to make him lay near the fence where he can hear the large dogs until he is calm which only works temporarily. I tried a no-bark collar that is supposed to spray a lemon scent but it never sprays. I've considered the shock collar but he's a bit sensative. I had not considered "de-barking" him because I thought that was addressing the symptom, not the problem or behavior. I really want to control the behavior but not sure what to do.

Nancy said...

If your dog is indeed scared, commands won't be as successful as desensitizing your dog to what's scaring him. As in, counter-condition. Lots of books out there for this.