Dog barking - really worried, please advise?(11 Posts)
Hello expert Dog Housers...
Just looking for some advice please as feeling very worried.
We have a medium/ large sized breed of quite lively, bouncy dog. We got him from rescue and were told he was fine being left at home if we had a dog walker (at that point DH and I each had 1 day at home per week so he was alone 3). It turned out he actually has fairly severe separation anxiety - pacing, scratching at doors, getting himself in a tizz and lots of barking.
In our old house we spent a fortune building a conservatory for him so he could see on all sides if we we're out, lots of space and light, comfy chair, well ventilated etc. It took ages but we gradually got him happy to be left in there...obviously with dog walker coming to take him out for around 2 hours if we were at work. Sound proofing was good and we had v understanding neighbours who were quite spaced out from us although attached.
Trouble is we've had to move due to finance and schools. In the new house, he either has to have the run of the house which is too much "space" for him to cope with and risks our house being destroyed, or be confined to the kitchen / utility (not small, but not ideal for a dog and no easy access to Windows or a big comfy chair like he used to have). In the short periods I've had to leave him so far (10 mins at a time) he's barked his head off and scratched all the door.
We have put him into day care at no small cost on the days that we work. He seems to love it there, they get tons of exercise and he comes back exhausted every night which I hoped might calm him the rest of the time if he needed to be left but so far, no luck.
So...(sorry for all the back story) my big fear is what the heck happens if we need to pop out for an hour or two and can't take him with us? This should never be for a very prolonged period. But like to parents evenings, school events etc. To brief things I've been taking him and leaving him in the car which oddly he doesn't mind, but obviously I can't do that for longer periods. It's wearing us down worrying that we can't go out and stopping the kids being able to do things. I'm terrified that our new neighbours will complain if he barks - the houses on our new road are much closer together and even with him in the house, you can hear it outside. I don't know if you could from within their houses. I'm worried we could get fined or...worse...he could get taken away from us when we really are trying our best but surely we have to be able to leave him at home occasionally & not all day? He's a huge part of the family, on weekends our activities are largely based around him, we go for long walks all over the place that we all really enjoy - he gets plenty of exercise and as soon as we get home he's on the sofa with us being cuddled so he's far from neglected. The kids adore him.
Any thoughts and advice much appreciated.
Very briefly, without knowing your house layout, I would consider a dog gate so that he had more access to space, at a pinch, put it up in the utility room doorway. Then let him have a treat-filled Kong toy a couple of times & then if he likes it, prepare him for you leaving and as you go, give him his King with the treats inside. But it is essential to build up to longer absences, so you need to start training now.
Did he bark continuously at your old house?
To begin with he did (only when left) but after a month or so he got used to it and was fine. But the neighbours there were very tolerant during that month, here I don't think they will be. He can bark for half an hour solidly with no break at all. Then stop for 10 mins and start again.
The strange thing is he isn't a 'shadow' dog at all. When we are home he doesn't follow us around - we can be totally the other end of the house and he'll stay happy asleep on the sofa so long as he knows there is somebody in the house.
Have you tried a plug in thing from the vet? Leaving radio on? My dog has bbc1 on the iPad in with him it has to be mainly talking programmes
Try either an adaptil plug in or collar. The plug in would be better but you would need it plugged in for a few months for you to do the training. Try leaving a tv or radio on too to block out outside noises. Try starting back at the beginning with your training too leaving him for 5 minutes then coming back and very slowly increasing the time. Also don't make a big deal before you leave or when you come back.
You need to address the cause of his anxiety. He's not bored or in need of distraction, he's terrified that each time you leave, you may not return and will need a counter conditioning rogramme and possibly anti anxiety medication to address this.
look on the APBC website to find a qualified behaviourist to support you
Our dog likes to be able to see out if wherever she is, when we're out she has the run of the kitchen, utility, and living room, and we have a baby gate to stop her getting in the hall and upstairs, if the baby gate were a solid door she wouldn't be happy iyswim. We leave the radio on on for her as well.
I think you probably need to go back to basics, stuff a kong and leave him for 5 minutes a few times, then 10, etc.
Maybe pop round and speak to your neighbours, explain you're training and there will be barking, but hopefully it will settle. Ask them if there's any times they would prefer you avoided if you're feeling generous, but as long as it's not all day or antisocial hours I think you're safe from a noise complaint perspective.
Out next door neighbours (we're a semi so share walls) have three little dogs that bark none stop when left, I feel sorry for them as they must be quite stressed (they are rescues but neighbours seem to have just accepted their issues rather than try to help them, they also get walked on a deserted golf course at dawn because they can't be walked in the street or see other animals), but I wouldn't complain unless I thought they were actually being neglected, i.e. It was hours and hours all the time.
Yes, at the old house we tried plug ins, collars, radio on even a thing called a thunder coat and none had any impact at all.
He just seemed to suddenly stop after a month or so and seem to be ok with being left there.
The gradually building up thing is very difficult because - as I said in my last post - he isn't a generally anxious dog and doesn't shadow us around. So long as he can hear us somewhere in the house, he's quite happy on his own. So leaving him in a room and stepping out for gradually longer lengths of time (within the house) has no impact at all. It's only when he actually knows we've left completely that he barks and scratches at the door...& we have been trying to limit the length of time this needs to happen for. I'd like to think that finding all day doggy day care 4 days per week is taking responsibility (it certainly costs almost as much as another child!) but it doesn't help with what we do for the inevitable occasions that come up where we currently feel completely tied to the house.
Repeatedly popping out, driving away completely and coming back 5 mins later, gradually building up is a brilliant concept but nigh on impossible when working full-time the days he's at day care & with 2 small children the other days (trying to get their shoes, coats etc on every time only to drive for 5 mins turn around and come straight back). & whilst doing that training what happens to things like school nativities, parents evenings etc? It's not so easy to just say "sorry that's a bit long, I can only leave for 20 mins at this stage of my dogs traininig".
How long has he been at daycare? My dog really benefitted from it training wise as she has lots of other dogs to model. She had severe separation anxiety and one day it clicked however we have to do certain things. She has the tv on fairly loud on a 'happy channel' no creepy music or anything. She goes in her cage last after we are ready. She goes in with the back uncovered (that faces the wall and pulled off the wall) and the top, front and sides are covered. It's the only way she feels safe. We have tried leaving her out but she climbs on the arm of the chair looks out the window and barks.
Also what is he like if you go out when he's tired after daycare?
In that situation, it could be the door that's distressing him. He can't see anything and it's making him anxious. He has gone from an all round view in your old conservatory to nothing at all. In the first instance, try a baby gate at the doorway instead of closing the door and some music or Radio London...
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