Dog Barking Problem

RadCaz

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My dog, a Yellow Lab, suffers from "separation anxiety." When I leave her alone to go out (when I can't take her with me), she barks and whines - to the point of disturbing my neighbors. A trainer told me to medicate my pupper. My vet said not to do this. I've heard about anti-bark collars. What do you suggest? Any advice good people? I'm at my whit's end.
 
I agree with your Vet. Meds and shock collars treat the symptom rather than addressing the issue. Not sure where you are in New York but I would look for a professional who specializes in dog anxiety. They address things like desensitization and counterconditioning. Your new aquarium might help!
By the way, welcome to the forum!
 
You don't need medications for this. You do need to chat with a decent animal behaviourist and treat the dog like a dog. These are some of the things I was taught when working with a couple of Australia's best animal behaviourists.

When you come home and the dog is jumping up and down making a racket saying pat me, ignore it. Put your stuff in the house and do whatever and wait until the dog settles down, then call it over or go over to it and pat it.

Feed the dog after you and everyone else in the house has eaten dinner. In a dog pack, the alpha animals eat first and the subordinates eat last. Humans are the alphas (or should be) and should eat first. When you have finished, then the subordinates eat. If you are going out for dinner, have a couple of biscuits or a sandwich in front of the dog so it sees you eating, then feed it.

Don't let a dog sleep on your bed. The dog should have 1 or 2 trampoline beds around the house that it uses and it never sleeps on a human's bed. The dog's bed should also be lower than a human's bed.

Don't let the dog jump up onto the chair or couch and sit on you. That is bad manners and the dog saying it is in charge of you. You can call the dog over and let it sit on the couch with you but you must call it over. If the dog tries to jump up, tell it no and make it wait until you let it up.

If the dog is on the couch and you want to sit down, ask it to move and if it doesn't sit in front of it and gently lean back on it. Don't crush the dog or put any major weight on it but make it feel a little uncomfortable. In the pack the alpha dog sits wherever it wants and if another dog doesn't move out of the way, it gets growled at or sat on.

If the dog is laying or sitting down by your feet, get it to move out of your way when you get up.

When the doorbell rings, get the dog to sit and stay before opening the door. If it doesn't want to sit and wait, tell it to go to its bed. If you have a few friends come around, tell them you are retraining the dog and ask them to take turns ringing the doorbell and hang around while you get the dog to sit.

If you do this properly, the dog will start to act weird after about a week. It will act and look like it wants to kill itself. It will sulk and not want anything to do with you. This is a good sign. It is the dog realising it is no longer in charge and you are. A few days after this happens, the dog will wake up one day and be its old happy self except it will have accepted its lower ranking in the group. Once that happens, it's only a matter of continuing the above program and waiting. The dog will eventually settle down and get use to you not being there. It usually takes about a month or so but it should happen pretty quickly.

You can also try going out for a few minutes at a time. Gradually increase the time you are out of the house and away from the dog. Give the dog some toys and things like Kongs (rubber toy with holes in for food). You can have a radio or TV on with a little bit of sound so it acts as white noise to the dog. Some dogs hear it and others ignore it but it can help reduce the separation anxiety.

Take the dog for a walk before leaving it alone. A decent walk will tire it out and it should sleep for a while when you are gone.

Take the dog for a walk every day. It should be out of the house for at least an hour or more. If possible get it to a dog exercise park and let it run around with other dogs while off lead. If you can do this in the afternoon, then you can have dinner when you get back and feed the dog after that. This simulates the dog hunting (running around at the park) and then feeding after the hunt. The dog usually sleeps after dinner. Exercise, boundaries and daily routine are essential and dogs need it just like children do.
 
I have a hyper active aussie. I will try some of @Colin_T suggestions about sitting on the couch and lying on me, while watching this thread to see if there are any other suggestions.

Exercise definitely helps for my pup of 7 months. I pretty much have to have a minimum of a 4 to 5 km walk to keep him mellow enough to deal with. We have used a couple of trainers to date but so far I haven't been impressed.
 
I have a hyper active aussie. I will try some of @Colin_T suggestions about sitting on the couch and lying on me, while watching this thread to see if there are any other suggestions.

Exercise definitely helps for my pup of 7 months. I pretty much have to have a minimum of a 4 to 5 km walk to keep him mellow enough to deal with. We have used a couple of trainers to date but so far I haven't been impressed.
All young dogs are hyperactive and Aussie Shepherds are working dogs that need exercise or they go nuts. I used to take my Kelpie cross and Papillon for 5-10km walks once or twice a day and also took them to the dog park for a couple of hours in the afternoon. When they are about 2 years old they start to mature and are less crazy. When they are about 6 years old they start to slow down a bit but the first few years, you either get really fit walking them, or have a problem dog. :)
 
Hey, there's nothing wrong with putting electro shock collars on people. :devil:
I have no problem with shock collars for people! But dogs? Absolutely not! :D I much prefer animals to people lol

But in all seriousness, I consider shock collars a punishment (and a very cruel one at that) and separation anxiety boils down to fear so.......
Let's take a dog that is fearful when left alone and start shocking it every time it makes a noise - like that is ever going to help cure any fear. Poor doggy, being punished for being afraid, that just breaks my heart 😥
Separation anxiety can be a very difficult thing to manage but it is possible, it just takes a lot of time and A LOT of patience. The general advice is to take it in very small steps and slowly build it up. So you put on your coat and grab your keys to leave.....but don't leave. Stand outside the door (out of sight) for a couple of minutes and then go back in, which tells pup that even if you leave, you will come back. Rinse and repeat and slowly increase the time you leave pup each time you do it and pup will (eventually) realise that there is no drama or worries when you leave, because you always come back.
 
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Please, please, please don't use any kind of shock collar, they are cruel
Totally disagree. First off as mentioned previously I don't use the shock function, but I would if I had to. I want and currently have a dog that I can walk off lead, he is a herding dog "smart as a whip", and having a remote messaging system lets him know I need his attention without yelling my fool head off. I would rather use an e collar than have him always confined to being on leash walked around like the majority of the dogs around here do (to me that is cruel). He has so much energy that I cannot walk him enough, with the e collar I can take him on a walk out behind our yard or in the bush and let him run, usually giant circles, where he can go flat out for 15min or so, before we go for the proper walk. I can also let him know that chasing deer or bears is not an acceptable activity. Additionally, it makes it easier to communicate with the dog when we are in noisy environments such as near rivers, one beep or a clap lets him know that I want his attention (Look at me for hand signal) or two beeps or double clap means return to me. Finally, the vibrate mode tells him that he has to stop whatever behavior he is currently doing, or the activity will stop altogether, this is where I would use the shock function if needed.

I could do much the same with a long line, and have done so with past dogs, but it would be much more difficult to maintain and monitor in bushy areas. I try to be fair, consistent, and compassionate, but I am also giving a powerful dog freedom to choose and make decisions and the e-collar provides a level of communication, not control, without a lead, it doesn't supplant more traditional training but is a tool I now use.
 
I think there was a response to message I thought I sent but didn't. Opps. I was going to say I use an E-collar for my dog but I don't know how well it would work for barking. I use the e collar more as a communication. I believe the antibark collars are a bit different and use a puff of citronella to discourage barking, I don't have any experience with those. I wanted to mention that @Colin_T comments about sleeping and couch behavior are likely spot on for most dogs, and I should start to adopt them more.

To return back to the question at hand, have you ever tried putting on the Radio or T.V. when you are away. Some dogs find that soothing, my previous dogs, goldens and poodles liked to have music going when I was away. Probably easy listening or classical would be best, but who knows, the wrong genre might make things worse :).
 
My dog, a Yellow Lab, suffers from "separation anxiety." When I leave her alone to go out (when I can't take her with me), she barks and whines - to the point of disturbing my neighbors. A trainer told me to medicate my pupper. My vet said not to do this. I've heard about anti-bark collars. What do you suggest? Any advice good people? I'm at my whit's end.
Get another small dog or a cat to keep her company. I know people do that for the problems you are having.
 
Get another small dog or a cat to keep her company. I know people do that for the problems you are having.
That will just hide the problem and can make it worse. The anxiety needs to be adresssed
First


For separation anxiety you must get a new dog trainer if they’re just suggested drugging the dog.

You need to make coming home and leaving a neutral, boring experience.
It may be cute how excited the dog gets when you get home, jumping up and saying hi. Ignore the dog. It’s nothing exciting. If coming home and leaving are hi emotion moments it will add to the anxiety.

Wait until the dog is completely calm before saying hi, generally 5-10 minutes after coming home is good.

For leaving, make it a positive experience instead of a negative one. Get a foraging toy or long, stuff it with peanut butter, unsweetened Greek yogurt, kibble, bananas and freeze it. Give the dog the toy before leaving.
(Reserve this treat ONLy for when you leave and the dog will associate the fun yummy thing with being Alone)

Another thing is your leaving routine can contribute to adding tension because the dog knows you’re about to leave. Putting on your shoes, going to the door, opening the door, going out the door etc.

It can be beneficial to make these things no longer equal being left alone in the dogs mind.

Put your shoes on, jingle your car keys, and then sit on the couch. Ignore the dog. Do it again and again a few times a day until the dog realizes it’s not always being left alone. Walk to the door, open it and close it. Over and over. Until the dog no longer shows excitement. Neutrality is KEY. In all things dog training. Then take a step out, back in. Close the door. Then you can leave for 10 seconds, 20 seconds, a few minutes before coming back in.

Do NOT progress in timing or distance until the dog is completely neutral at the shorter times and distances. Slow with lots of repetition is going to give you a better dog than trying to speed it up

When you leave, don’t make a big deal, don’t say goodbye to the dog. And when you get back, don’t say hello
 
An antibark collar is a bad idea for a number of reasons and can actually make the dog more anxious
 
Totally disagree. First off as mentioned previously I don't use the shock function, but I would if I had to. I want and currently have a dog that I can walk off lead, he is a herding dog "smart as a whip", and having a remote messaging system lets him know I need his attention without yelling my fool head off. I would rather use an e collar than have him always confined to being on leash walked around like the majority of the dogs around here do (to me that is cruel). He has so much energy that I cannot walk him enough, with the e collar I can take him on a walk out behind our yard or in the bush and let him run, usually giant circles, where he can go flat out for 15min or so, before we go for the proper walk. I can also let him know that chasing deer or bears is not an acceptable activity. Additionally, it makes it easier to communicate with the dog when we are in noisy environments such as near rivers, one beep or a clap lets him know that I want his attention (Look at me for hand signal) or two beeps or double clap means return to me. Finally, the vibrate mode tells him that he has to stop whatever behavior he is currently doing, or the activity will stop altogether, this is where I would use the shock function if needed.

I could do much the same with a long line, and have done so with past dogs, but it would be much more difficult to maintain and monitor in bushy areas. I try to be fair, consistent, and compassionate, but I am also giving a powerful dog freedom to choose and make decisions and the e-collar provides a level of communication, not control, without a lead, it doesn't supplant more traditional training but is a tool I now use.
If you feel that you need to use pain to control your dog, that's really sad, but your decision.
 

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