Anti-barking collar - running out of options

(11 Posts)
anchovies Sat 29-Oct-11 13:57:05

Can anyone help at all?

We have a nearly 2 year old rescue lab who is extremely clingy. He has improved a lot over the 6 months we have had him but he still constantly follows us around and hates being on his own. With lots of training he has become much more confident when we are there but he is still extremely anxious when we leave him on his own, despite building it up the time he is left very gradually.

Our neighbour (who we already have problems with) has confronted us in the past about his barking but we thought he had stopped. Yesterday evening we went out for a meal and when we came home things came to a head - our neighbour literally screaming at us in the street about constant barking and howling. To be fair I would have been annoyed if I had been kept awake until midnight, we were extremely apologetic. Normally we have a babysitter so he wouldn't be on his own in the evening but in a rare treat the children stayed out. Needless to say it totally spoilt the evening and we are left not knowing what else to try.

What we have tried:
Always left with Kong wobbler/bones/pigs ear/filled Kong etc
Curtains closed and windows all closed so he cant see out the front of the house/be heard if he does bark
Upstairs doors all bungee corded together so he can get in the rooms next to neighbours house or look out of the windows
Lots of regular exercise (eg yesterday he had 2x1 hour off lead walks plus swimming)
Closing doors when we're in the house for increasing lengths of time to let him know we always come back

My husband is now adamant we give in and try an anti-barking device (a spray collar or the noise kind) but I am convinced it will just make things worse. We have considered getting him a friend in the hope that some company would help him but I think we risk just ending up with double the trouble. We had a DAP diffuser which seemed to help when we first got him, I don't know whether this would be worth trying again? Or maybe the DAP collar version?

Sorry this is so long, just really hoping somebody has some ideas!

anchovies Sat 29-Oct-11 14:35:27

Have posted on another forum who directed me towards this just in case anyone searches for something similar in the future and comes across my desperate post here! I have rang our dog trainer as well who I hope will help us get this sorted, I was looking for a quick fix and there clearly isn't one but (as with everything) some time and effort is needed!

I have no answers but wanted to say good luck!

I think there are a number of issues here, and probably the most important is the relationship with the neighbour. If you've done all you say, and you have double glazing, have closed the curtains, and this is not cheek by jowl terraced housing or flats, then I'd be incredibly surprised if your neighbour can actually hear anything. It may be that they have become very sensitised to it, it may even be that they can hear A dog barking which is not yours. Are you able to have a chat with your other neighbours, especially ones who are physically closer to you, and ask them to be brutally honest - can they hear your dog? If the answer is no, or yes, but only occasionally, then you have a neighbour who is looking to pick a fight, not a problem dog.

In that case, I would actually suggest going to see your local Environmental Health Department, who will deal with noise complaints. Ensure you discuss this issue with them and ask them to make a note of your concerns, and ask for their advice. A very large proportion of noise complaints are found, on investigation, to be completely malicious, and are frequently because one neighbour doesn't like another, and simply sees this as a way of making trouble. If you have pro-actively taken the trouble to consult them, record your concerns and show that you are keen to be a good neighbour, you will have built a good foundation if this escalates in the future. If your neighbour genuinely has/had a concern they would themselves contact the Council who would ask them to keep a noise diary, or to have a recording device placed in their home to assess the degree of nuisance. ONLY if a nuisance is proved, can the EHO then issue an abatement order, but that is a very long way down the track and as I said, a huge number of cases are found to be without foundation at this stage.

There is NEVER any excuse for bellowing at you in the street - you must have found it very upsetting.

Now back to the dog! Do you think he actually was barking all night? Could you leave a recorder/video camera with him to see what he is actually doing when you leave him?

PLEASE, PLEASE do not use an anti barking collar - no reputable trainer would use them, and they can be very counter productive. Thankfully, shock collars have been banned in Wales and generally these kinds of aversive training techniques are being dropped by all reputable trainers (thank God) as more research emerges on how dogs learn. Positive training methods are far more effective. On the issue of company, I personally like this. Dogs are, by their nature very sociable animals and some dogs do much better in a multi dog household (that is not to say that solo dogs can't be happy or well adjusted). But personally, I would concentrate first on finding out if you genuinely have a dog problem or a neighbour problem. It might also be helpful for you to consult an accredited behaviourist to help with the already excellent progress you are making on helping your dog to settle and adjust to their new life.

Lastly, please don't underestimate the fact that this is the weekend before Bonfire NIght. Therefore, there will be a massive amount of fireworks going off, and many dogs who are otherwise model canine citizens will be barking much more than normal, because of all the very loud bangs.

Good luck. smile

notmeagain Sat 29-Oct-11 16:00:33

Ok lets see this from the dogs point of view

He is worried when he is left alone so he barks for attention.

Now when he barks he gets squirted with air and a strange smell is pufed in he face - dogs anxiety increases and he either barks more or starts some other behaviour that releases the stress, so chewing (probably the house) weeing, pooing in the house.

Anti bark collars never ever ever solve the problem. They may work for a day or two but I promise you that the problem will not go away.

So how to treat the problem. I would first work out how much he ie barking. Can yo leave a webcam on when you are out to see what he does do.

If he barks constantly then you are going to have to build up the time he is left.

I would start this by taking him for a walk first thing in the morning, give him a time to relax and then give him his breakfast. Then whilst you are in the house leave him in his bed to sleep undisturbed for a while. So shut the door and leave the room. It depends on him as to what you do next if he is settled and quiet leave him for 15 mins and then go back into the room BUT ignore him when you return. Gradually over the days build up the time he can be left. Make sure that on no account do you make a fuss of him when you come back into the house. Over time he will be able to be left without the need for barking.

If he barks the minute you leave the room -wait for a pause and then enter the room again do not make a fuss of him quiet will mean you reappear. Of course this will take time and you have to be consistent it will not change overnight - you may even find it gets worse before it gets better. This can happen as the dog gives one last attempt to see if the old way works.

have a read of this site thunder shirt

anchovies Sat 29-Oct-11 20:36:54

Thanks for the replies and encouragement to persevere with the kind methods of getting him used to being on his own.

Scuttlebutter you are exactly right about the neighbour vs dog problem, having given it some thought today I am now convinced that she is exaggerating the extent of his barking. We have a great relationship with our neighbours on the other side (we are a semi-detached joined to the neighbour with the problem but share a driveway with our other next door neighbours) and they said they haven't heard him barking at all recently, sadly they are away at the moment so I can't ask about last night. My dh went round this morning to apologise again and we took her some flowers (we always find doing the thing she least expects shocks her into being more reasonable grin) Only answer as you've suggested is to start using the video camera to record him when we are out which to be honest I hate as I find watching it back so stressful! When we have done this in the past at his worst he has either barked for the first couple of minutes at the door then settled or very occassionally was barking intermittantly the whole time we are out. We thought we had cracked it though as finally the videos were showing him settling straight away.

We actually contacted our local council last time she threatened to report us and they assured us that providing he isnt barking at night (which he isn't other than last night) and we can be seen to be taking all reasonable action to minimise his barking they wouldn't see him as a problem.

Being honest he has got an incredibly loud bark which I am sure would get quite annoying but as you say, how much she can actually hear it with all the windows closed, double glazing and no access to the rooms next to her house?

We have worked quite hard on leaving him on his own while we are in the house, he is now quite happy in another room while we are elsewhere for a while, we are still working on this though. Given a choice he would always follow us. We always ignore him on returning home.

Oh and I forgot about the fireworks, I really hope that wasn't his problem last night sad

The worst thing about this is that I can't avoid ever leaving him and I hate coming home wondering whether the neighbour will be waiting for me. I suppose I knew that the anti bark collar wasnt the solution but I think I just needed to hear that the best solution wont be instant and we just need to persevere.

Thanks again smile

anchovies Sat 29-Oct-11 20:37:40

Am just off to have a look at the thundershirt, is it something you've tried dita?

afraid not, was something I was dicussing with trainer for fear aggresion issues, she said she has had a lot of sucess with it for seperation anxiety and general fear, just googlee it there are tons of videos on you tube (not really sure thats a great test but gives you an idea).

BoyMeetsWorld Mon 01-Sep-14 15:57:00

just ressurecting this thread as Anchovies' dog sounds exactly like ours! will pm Anchovies as would love to know what the eventual outcome was.

our rescue boxer is v v similar. Never ever barks unless left, then does it intermittently the whole time we are gone. Would follow us around the house constantly, but we're doing lots of work to help that.

our big problem is we HAVE to go to work & there's no available day care. we 'only' work 3 days per week away from home and those days we use a dog walker who takes him out the house for 3 hours - so he has a maximum 4 hour stretch alone. he gets lots of long walks, Kong toys & pigs ear when left etc.

but nothing stops the barking. our neighbours are actually being lovely about it although they've said they can hear him.....but this surely can't go on forever & we don't know what to do. every day we're home we do tons of training, building times left but then have to go to work & it pretty much must undo it all.

He doesn't seem particularly distressed other than the barking and loves his crate, quite happy to go in there etc so long as not being left.

Bit of a nightmare but any suggestions for people who can't be there 24/7 to train the slow way? we've already had 10 days off with him to try and train.......

motmot Wed 03-Sep-14 11:06:49

We also have a dog acquired as an adult which has separation ishoos. We are trying to de-sensitize her to us leaving, and gradually work up tons left, but like you there are times when I just HAVE to go out and out does undo all the trust you've built up.
We are currently renovating an area of our house that she is never allowed in. She has become used to us going in there, putting the radio on and staying in there for ages. Somewhat accidentally, this has created a means to leave her without her knowing she has been left. I now put the kids in the car, come back in the house, go into the renovation area, put the radio on, and leave from there. i must stress that this is not a long term solution, but means she thinks she's never left longer than she can manage without us being totally trapped.
This might not be an option for you if you live in a flat for example, or if you have a cleverer dog than me!

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