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Barking Dogs

(12 Posts)
MegMez Tue 22-Mar-16 15:07:34

We have a Jack Russell (age 4) and a Mini Schnauzer (age 3 I think). We've had the JR since a puppy and the MS since summer 2015 when he came to stay while his owners went on holiday and never went back. (Basically my husband tricked me into having two dogs as he thought a playmate would calm down the JR. Fool.)

The JR is pretty territorial about the house (in my opinion) and will bark at passers by in the living room (front of house - it's a terrace straight onto a pavement) and through the frosted glass of the front door. The postman and visitors also cause him to bark. He'll bark at birds and cats in the garden. We've gated off most of the garden as only a yard can be seen from the house.

The MS will bark at other dogs on walks and in the morning before we get up, for his breakfast.

I work from home but obviously do have to leave the house for some meetings, to take the kids to school and I walk them in the day.

One neighbour has now knocked to complain. Understandable, it drives me mad. "Take them to puppy training or gag them or anything." I know they're too old for puppy training but have seen that some local trainers do house visits. I've grown up with dogs and barking was never an issue so I'm at a loss and would really appreciate any advice. I'm reluctant to get a trainer to the house because 1. it sounds expensive, 2. I want to try what I can on my own and 3. reading through some of the websites, at least one mentions the pack-leader approach which I know isn't everyone's cup of tea.

My husband suggested shutting them in the kitchen but this isn't fair on them and the MS whimpers (I think he's got a touch of separation anxiety - he was weeing in the kitchen whenever they were left - even just 10 minutes). Plus, they still bark when they hear the door knocked or a passing siren or a bird in the garden. And I know that doesn't actually address the reason for the barking. They have a dog flap to the yard of the garden so can get out for a toilet or sniff.

Suggestions very welcome.

noddingoff Tue 22-Mar-16 22:03:02

I'm going to tell you what you don't want to hear.
You have two of the barkiest breeds.
Barking is easy and very low-input for dogs, which contributes to it being a difficult habit to break.
The habit tends to get worse not better.
Even if everything is done absolutely right, you might not end up with perfectly quiet dogs...just quiet-er dogs.
But please please for the sanity of yourself and your neighbours...get a decent behaviourist out to the house. If you can afford to keep two dogs, you can afford a behaviourist. I am a vet, and it mystifies me why so many people who otherwise want to get top quality care for their dogs - happily paying for vaccinations, expensive food, dental work, sometimes practically flinging money at me wanting to do Xrays if their dog has a sore toe for half a morning - don't want to pay for a behaviourist/think they should go it alone/think it won't work - even for quite severe behavioural problems sometimes.
Get an APBC or APDT affiliated trainer out. If you don't like them or it doesn't work, find another.
Our NDN (party wall so can hear everything) has a barky dog. Barks in the house, in the garden, at all hours of the day and night. Barks at other dogs, cars, people. Barks on walks. It drives her mental - we can hear her scolding him, which doesn't work - and it is driving DH even more mental. I have suggested a behaviourist. She hasn't got one. She is a very intelligent person with a well paid professional job (I reckon earns twice as much as me) and dotes on the dog - it is always immaculately (probably expensively) groomed, gets new toys and coats practically every week, and gets fed expensive food, but she still won't get a goddamn behaviourist which is the one thing that would probably make the dog's life - and hers, and ours- happier and more peaceful.

BlackMarigold Wed 23-Mar-16 12:26:10

noddingoff - I think people would be happy to pay for a behaviourist if it didn't involve any actual effort on their part, like carrying out advice and actually training the dog.

SistersOfPercy Wed 23-Mar-16 16:58:15

My NDN has a JR and works 8 hour shifts. From the moment she walks out of the door to the moment she returns it barks constantly. I can't sit in silence in my own home. I can't curl up quietly with a cup of tea and a book because all I can hear is it barking. In the summer I can't sit in the garden because you can even hear it there. Some days it can drive you to tears of frustration. I've had this now for SIX YEARS.

She knows it barks. Initially it had the run of the house so there was no escape from it as it ran up and down the stairs and in and out of the bedrooms going mad, now she confines it to the dining room. She's tried various ridiculous things like citronella collars and adaptil pulgins but has now concluded that 'dogs bark' so thats that and I'm to put up with it.

So yes, I agree with the comment about the sanity of neighbours.

ExitPursuedByABear Wed 23-Mar-16 17:02:35

Anyone who leaves a dog for 8 hours shouldn't have one.

My spaniel barks at the window cleaner. So that is 15 minutes once every 4 weeks. And it drives me mad.

Do what the vet says.

NoSquirrels Wed 23-Mar-16 17:06:43

^^ what they said.

Barky dogs need training, You should get someone to help you with that, because they'll know what works best. Use the APDT site to find one, and by all means quiz them on the phone on their training methods before taking their advice.

It drives you mad. It's driving your neighbours mad. It's driving your DH mad. Why not pay someone for a session or two? Then at least you are starting from a position of knowledge and not ignorance.

BombadierFritz Wed 23-Mar-16 17:24:16

A few changes might help, like covering up the glass on the door, blocking the view out of the window using curtains/blinds (perhaps just halfway up?) And stopping up the dog flap so they dont go outside unaccompanied
Apparently you can train dogs to bark on command then teach them 'silence' - never tried it though. I find my ms wont shut up til i open the door, show him there is nothing there,,and acknowledge his bark (i say 'thank you' blush )

Dieu Wed 23-Mar-16 18:21:16

I'm surprised that JRs aren't yet extinct, as for the life of me I don't know what folks see in them! wink

Sorry OP, on a more helpful note, you may be able to get a behaviourist through your pet insurance. John Lewis were happy for me to use one for my puppy's separation anxiety.

Might be worth checking anyway, and good luck.

SistersOfPercy Wed 23-Mar-16 21:10:44

Anyone who leaves a dog for 8 hours shouldn't have one

Agree completely. She didnt set out to have it, she took it in from someone who was mistreating it from what I gather so it already came with a whole host of issues. Seperation anxiety was always going to happen with it.
I feel for it, it's clearly very distressed but nothing will change.

MegMez Tue 29-Mar-16 14:40:11

Thank you for the suggestions.

On the "if you can afford to have two dogs" line. Please don't assume we're rolling in money. We buy a cheap range of dog food in bulk, we have smaller dogs as they eat less. They go to family rather than kennels if we go on holiday (in the UK for one week in a family owned cabin - don't spend our money on expensive holidays instead of the pets). Of course the vets bills are what they are and both are insured. As with our life in general, we don't earn much but live within our means - we live in a poor area so that we could buy a house we could afford.

I will look on the APDT site to see who is in my area.

I also don't understand how anyone could leave a dog for 8 hours. Even before I started working from home, I was working part time and the days I wasn't around my mum would walk the JR in the day and bring my kids home after school to play with him.

It's always difficult to ask for help because usually the advice comes from people with more knowledge and experience than you and they can make you feel stupid, useless and told off.

I'll slope off, chastised to investigate training.

cheerfulmary Tue 29-Mar-16 14:56:01

Dont slope off - barky dogs are a nightmare and can be hard work to live with. I also don't expect you have done anything to cause the barkyness. Some dogs just loooooove to bark.

A good APDT traininer should be able to help you (and if they lecturer you tell them so, part of their qualification is being able to train the owners not just the dogs).

Nothing wrong ever in asking for help when you need it. I have been training dogs for years and always come across dogs and cases that I need to ask advice on or discuss with colleagues.

Obviously I have not seen the situation but often prevention is the first and best approach to take. So can you put a curtain at the windows where they bark or prevent access to that room sometimes having a radio on quietly may discourage the barking from birds sirens etc,

However for the noises that set them off barking, counter conditioning is probably the way to go. Everytime they hear a siren give them a great small treat - over time they should come to you instead of barking at the siren. This takes time and has to be repeated over and over again.

Other things to consider are level of exercise and type of exercise, food they are on, Maybe keep them busy with calming activities eg not ball chasing but a stuffed kong instead of feeding them from a bowl etc.

Do remember to reward the calm quiet behaviour, it is so easy to shout at the barking behaviour and ignore when they are giving us the behaviour they want.

If they are barking at you, you could try standing still and ignoring ,this may at first cause more barking and for some dogs will never work, but worth a try or ask them to do something else eg a hand touch or lie down, then praise the down position - they may over time offer this instead of the barking (maybe not the barky terriers but worth a try!)

Good luck

MegMez Tue 29-Mar-16 16:30:58

Thank you!

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