Anti-bark solutions

(20 Posts)
DeborahDowner Tue 02-Oct-18 06:56:49


Recently one of our much loved dogs has quite suddenly gone deaf. 10 years old. In the last year -18m she’s started barking very early for food, this seems to be based on the light at times- so vv early, 4am in summer etc, 5:45 today. She doesn’t hear us hushing her any more (that used to buy a bit of time) and then the barking escalates- she won’t stop until someone comes and feeds her and wakes up the entire house eventually if we don’t spring out of bed and rush down immediately and feed her no matter what time. She seems to have us very well trained. After being fed she then goes back to sleep while whomever has gotten up often doesn’t.

We know she wouldn’t do this if sleeping upstairs but vet has suggested because of joint problems and stairs etc that we don’t regularly let her go up.

An auto-feeder wouldn’t work as the other dog would get it before her, she wouldn’t hear it go off.

The only other thing I can think of is an anti-bark vibration collar to put on overnight. Are these safe/humane/comfortable? DH thinks Ddog has been through enough health-wise and isn’t in favour. He is the one who mostly gets up and he’s exhausted.

Have you used one of these and if so do you think it would help solve the root of our problem?? Or anything else that would help instead?

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SavoyCabbage Tue 02-Oct-18 07:06:37

The thing about the anti bark collars is that another noise can set them off. So I wouldn’t want to use one if I wasn’t right there.

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Tue 02-Oct-18 07:15:03

These anti bark vibration collars are simply less violent versions of the electric shock and citronella spray collars that are shortly to be banned by the government on account of their cruelty. The principles behind a vibrating anti bark collar remain the same; it's still a punishment based method; no good dog trainer would advocate it.

Rescue DDog came to me with a vibrating anti bark collar. He also came with a host of anxiety based behavioural problems which in some cases manifested themselves as aggression. I'd always thought he was a remarkably unbarky dog. What I now realise is that he'd been left too scared to bark, and as his general anxiety improved he became more barky. I'd much sooner have a bit of pointless barking than a dog so unable to cope with the world that a motorbike causes him to lose the plot.

Few thoughts
- could you make the room where she sleeps totally dark so she's not woken by the light?
- is she small enough to be carried upstairs overnight?
- could she sleep in a room away from other dogs so a timed feeder would work?

If the barking for food is a new thing I do wonder if it could be an early sign of cognitive decline - but it could equally be that she has got you well trained as you have effectively been rewarding her barking by providing food (though I can completely see why!)

DeborahDowner Tue 02-Oct-18 07:26:50

Thank you both - yes I’m very conscious about the humane aspect, it’s certainly not something I’m looking at lightly- I sort of feel we need to break the cycle somehow. She’s very clever, I do think it’s that her method works and she has us trained and now expects to be served on demand! smile

She’s a very large springer spaniel, 25kg. Not overweight as we have to manage it because of the joint problems- she’s just really large framed. we could lift her upstairs potentially.

Couldn’t make downstairs darker because of large windows/glass doors. There is only 1 large open plan room downstairs and that’s where they are kept overnight presently.

DH has started to go to bed at 8:30/9pm to prepare for her early bark, so we are now losing evenings together after DC asleep. She seriously has us trained!

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Vallahalagonebutnotforgotten Tue 02-Oct-18 08:23:16

I would not ever use an anit bark collar as they usually cause more stress than they solve.

If she is waking up hungry then I would fed her later at night maybe last thing.

I would recommend not feeding her when you get up in the morning. So for the next few days get up and potter around but do not feed her instantly. Hopefully over time she will realise that you getting up does not mean a meal.

However I would not be sure that she is barking for hunger. Deaf dogs can get confused by sound so it may be that she is hearing things that are confusing her, then barking, you feed her, which distracts her etc. You could try white noise in the background to see if that helps. I would also have a vet trip as mentioned above this is a very common symptom of cognitive decline

AvocadosBeforeMortgages Tue 02-Oct-18 08:27:49

To be honest if you use an anti bark collar I can see her either deciding to accept the discomfort that comes when she barks, or seeking to gain your attention in another way (eg destructive behaviour),or something else even less desirable. These anti bark collars really don't deal with the root cause of the problem - they just punish your dog every time they speak.

What you need to do is find a way to reduce the need she feels to be fed at that very moment.

Is she crate trained? If so you could easily make a crate very dark and / or put a timed feeder in there.

When's her last dinner time? Could you split up her meals so she has some just before bed? Might keep her more full into the morning.

DeborahDowner Tue 02-Oct-18 09:03:21

Splitting her meals may be an idea. She also barks urgently starting at 3:30/4 (if we are home) for her 5-ish feed. If she is left home alone she’ll not bark and just sleep. (We have motion cameras downstairs). She’s always been a hungry dog but managing her weight for her joints /her always having been an inactive dog (odd for her breed I know) means perhaps she isn’t eating as much as she’d like. But she’s not burning it off so it’s a finely balanced thing!

She’s definitely slowing down, even for her. Vet has checked her over and thinks it is just aging but hasn’t been overly concerned. I’ve raised this with him too. He didn’t really know how to help on this front!

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Vallahalagonebutnotforgotten Tue 02-Oct-18 09:27:39

Slow her feeding down as well. Definitely have two meals a day and give the evening meal into a kong. Depends on what she eats I would fill the kong and freeze it if giving kibble.

This will make the mealtime longer and tire her out for the evening and hopefully full night sleep.

Where is her arthritis? if it is in her back you may need to put the kong on something head level or encourage her to lie down to eat it

DeborahDowner Tue 02-Oct-18 10:28:51

Split late Evening meal in a kong is a great idea. Will get some today.

She had a double hip replacement as a young dog due to hip dysphasia - so not arthritic really but just managed very carefully as she can get stiff - also the cement in the joints has a shelf life which isn’t always the lifetime of the dog. So we have been meticulous about minimising impact so it lasts her lifetime.

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SlothMama Tue 02-Oct-18 10:44:47

I wouldn't use a anti-bark collar, it causes more problems imo. What food is she on? It could be that it's not keeping her as full for as long as it used to.

DeborahDowner Tue 02-Oct-18 11:19:22

They are on wet tin food at the moment. Some kibble if an active day has been had. We have switched from raw trays recently - it was the same bark factor on those.

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AvocadosBeforeMortgages Tue 02-Oct-18 14:45:08

Kongs and similar toys will really help - I always think that the slower they eat meals the more they think they've had.

Some people also give dogs raw carrot sticks - very few calories but it's a bit of bulk to fill them up

DeborahDowner Tue 02-Oct-18 15:45:24

We do try with the raw carrots, they hold her off for half an hour or so! Thank you.

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Wolfiefan Tue 02-Oct-18 15:46:46

My dog has a supper. blush
Breakfast and dinner then a snack when the youngest goes to bed.
Can you not put up blackout blinds or curtains or shutters? If it’s dark you might get more sleep?

DeborahDowner Tue 02-Oct-18 16:37:53

Oh - the pre- 5pm bark has just started!

Working at home and haven’t had a chance to get the kongs!

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TheCrowFromBelow Tue 02-Oct-18 17:02:34

Is she fit enough to play find it with dinner?? I throw a handful outside on the lawn when my dog is being very barky but it isn’t quite feeding time and say “find it” he can spend ages sniffing around for that last piece if kibble.
Would she able to watch you throw and then go and look?
We also have kong ball that is filled with kibble and he has to push it about to get one piece at a time.
Is there another room downstairs you can move her bed into at night that could be made a bit darker?

DeborahDowner Tue 02-Oct-18 17:11:59

Like the find it games ideas! Yes we do that sometimes when it’s nice out, but not every evening.

Downstairs is one big room and a hallway and most of the back wall is glass, no way to make it totally dark. However The front curtains are closed as the morning light comes in the front windows, it does stay fairly dark but not blackout dark!

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TheCrowFromBelow Tue 02-Oct-18 17:24:09

What about a crate with a blanket over it, or is that a bit too much like having a parrot?

thegirlsallgrowedupnow Tue 02-Oct-18 19:13:20

I think all the suggestions are good particularly slow feeding but maybe a bit of retraining is also in order. Barking around food times does not equal food. Hopefully, the upcoming dark mornings will be your friend...go back to puppy days. Say, set her breakfast at six am, any barking before this earns an on lead trip to the garden in the cold and dark, no contact and back inside, repeat until six, wait for a gap in barking before feeding. Gradually extend the feeding time to 7 am or whenever you would prefer it to be.
However, if your vet diagnoses cognitive decline, then a different story. Our elderly blind Lancashire Heeler started whining around five in the morning, I would take him outside for a wee and then back to bed with us. Worked for a while and then he got worse and wasn’t happy, eventually went to rainbow bridge.

DeborahDowner Tue 02-Oct-18 19:29:18

Another challenge is her younger, faster, more assertive sibling. One of the challenges is that he will hoover up all the scattered kibbles, a kong or nab a toy left for a moment, etc.

Good suggestions thank you! And yes dark mornings should help..... really hoping so anyway!

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