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Advice re. barking when left (and in general)

(3 Posts)
Tuo Fri 13-Feb-15 00:31:47

Hi there. We have recently (a month ago) adopted a whippet cross (x-terrier of some sort, I think) from a local rescue. He's about a year old or so - hard to tell, but not much more, and still entire atm as he was quite underweight when we got him so the vet advised waiting till he'd put some weight on and settled in his new home before neutering him. He was a stray, so we have no background on him at all. Have had rescue dogs before, and also have an ex-racing (or, rather, failed racing - she was too slow and they got rid of her very young) greyhound.

All in all he has been great. He is tolerated by the greyhound, loved by all the family (me, DH, teen DDs), has got house-training more or less sorted, and is very loving. He gets very excited at times and a bit OTT, but no more than you'd expect of a dog of his age that has had no training at all. The main thing that winds him up is other dogs. If he sees them when out he gets really over excited and starts barking and pulling to get at them/whipping around on lead. He's not aggressive with them if they come up to him calmly, but most owners won't come near him as he sounds/looks so manic. I'm addressing this by (a) taking him to training classes and trying to do the whole socialisation thing that he should have had when he was a pup but obviously didn't; (b) being as calm as possible with him when we see other dogs, rewarding him for being quiet, ignoring the barking, etc. I am trying to find someone with a nice calm dog who'll meet up with me for occasional walks to help him see that it's not a big deal meeting up with other dogs and walking along with them... just need to find someone willing to put up with the initial manic-ness! It's going to take a while, but I feel like we're making progress on this (bearing in mind he's been with us for 4 or 5 weeks only).

The other thing though is more difficult. He has always been quiet and calm at night and we've used a crate for him just to keep him in one place and to discourage destructiveness and (initially, though I don't think he'd do it now) wees/poos in the house. The crate is right next to the greyhound's bed, so he has her with him at all times. When we go out we have also used the crate. Sometimes he's very good and just goes in there and lies down (this is mostly if I'm here on my own with him and am very calm and just quietly put him in and then walk out the door) but at other times he gets very wound up when people leave him. He has started doing this also eg when the kids leave for school in the morning - he'll bark and throw himself at the door for a few minutes and then attack his Kong for a bit and finally calm down again. Anyway, long story short my neighbours who have form for being pretty unpleasant also about other things put a note through my letterbox today complaining about him 'incessantly barking and whining'. Well, I know that any noise is not incessant as I'm here with him most of the time (I WOTH, but am mostly working from home atm and until next September/October - after which I'll be out a bit more regularly, but still doing quite flexible hours), but even so I don't want to be a bad neighbour and am quite upset about this. I guess I feel guilty - as if I shouldn't have got another dog when we live in a semi and know that our neighbours are difficult... The thing is we are moving soon (hoping to build our own house - or, rather, have it built) and originally thought of putting off having another dog till we'd moved (it'll be detached and quite far from any neighbours) but wanted to take advantage of the fact that I've got this period when i can work from home to settle the new dog. This makes sense, but I'm kind of beating myself up about creating a problem that could have been avoided. I suspect that the problem is a combination of the fact that he genuinely is barking/whining when left (though I don't think continuously - he's always been quiet when I've come back from anywhere - but I know he's - ahem - got a good voice on him) and the neighbours being sensitive to this. (Greyhound girl is totally silent... think I've heard her bark three times in the five years we've had her, so they are not used to hearing any dog noise at all... not even when the postie comes or someone rings the doorbell.) But I know it's my problem and I need to sort it out and - sorry, finally getting to the point of the post - I'd be grateful for any advice.

I've just read about adaptil and will definitely be giving that a try. We will also be getting him neutered asap as that may help calm him down a bit. We are obviously going to go and grovel to the neighbours and explain the context and that we're trying to move out put measures in place to address the problem. What else can I try? Do you think that NOT shutting him in the crate when we go out would be better? (I'm not sure, as he's happy in there at night, and if he were loose - with access only to hall and kitchen - he'd be able to see out of various doors and windows and would therefore be more likely to get wound up by passers-by, the postie, etc. Any other suggestions?

Sorry this is so long. I am a bit upset tonight, as I feel I maybe did the wrong thing in getting another dog at all. But he's here now and we are committed to him, so I need to live with the situation and find ways to make it better. Thanks for reading and for any advice...

muttynutty Fri 13-Feb-15 08:42:27

Put him in the crate whilst you are in the house for short periods and reward calm behaviour.

Only ever leave him in the crate if he has been exercised and feed - so ready to chill out.

Constantly reward his calm behaviour eg when people are leaving the house - this needs to be calm slow praise not hyper "well done"

I doubt neutering will calm him down - it can make some dogs more worried by reducing their testosterone - so I would delay that as long as possible.

Get a web cam or use an old iphone to record him when you are out so you can see the extent of his distress.

Work up to leaving him gradually

In a rush but will add more detail if you need it later

Tuo Fri 13-Feb-15 13:41:36

Thanks for replying mutty. Doing some of that anyway... he's always well walked (about an hour and a half a day) and fed morning and evening and have done very small amounts of time on his own at first (and also varied amounts of time/times of day, so he's not set in one particular routine and then upset if that changes).

Interesting about neutering - I always heard it was supposed to have a calming effect...

Really appreciate your response.

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