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Advice please

1974 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Marcia
Hi everybody. We have a problem with our dog Rocky. Some of you may remember that we adopted him from a rescue a few weeks ago. We knew he had a bit of separation anxiety, but just assumed he stopped barking when we left the house. Well, I've just been informed by a neighbor that he barks for hours until someone gets home. Why she waited to tell us until the beginning of the work week is beyond me, but we need to do something quick. The weather is warming up and people will have their windows open. To top it all I have to go out of town, and my husband does tax prep. As you may imagine, he'll be pretty busy until the deadline. Has anyone used a citronella collar? Normally I'm in favor of retraining as opposed to gadgets, but we're in a bind here. My Mom can babysit sometimes, but that's not a solution. I also thought about locking him in the bathroom which will muffle the sound, but that's not a solution either. I won't even try a shock collar. It probably wouldn't work anyway with all the skin folds around his neck. Help!! :(
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Have you tried distracting him when you leave? My friend, who has three young Bassets, fills kongs with peanut butter and then freezes them. When she goes out she gives each of the dogs a kong as a special treat (only given when the dogs are alone). The kongs distract them from the fact that she's leaving and the frozen peanut butter keeps them busy for a long time (my Moe used to be able to empty a kong in less than five minutes <_< - I never thought of freezing it first). Perhaps it would help Rocky, too?
Do you keep him in a crate? Daisy used to bark for hours as a puppy in her crate but since she has been fully house trained we we just let her loose in the main living area. Since then she doesn't bark when we leave anymore. She just keeps herself busy by making all kinds of messes :)
Thanks for the responses - we've tried the Kong, neither of our dogs will go near them, no matter what yummy thing is inside. They react this way to anything made of rubber, it's really weird. He's not crated either - we've had no reason to as he is completely house broken and is not at all destructive (guess we're lucky in those departments). I'm afraid to give them those sterilized bones with treats in them....if anyone has ideas about other treats to leave him with, let me know. I tried a buster cube too - Sally just ripped it apart and got all the food at once. :rolleyes:
Have you tried leaving the TV on so there is so sound and voices in the house?? That worked when my Maggie Mae (ATB) first starting getting senile. I know that's not the issue here but it did seem to offer her some comfort. Just a thought??
First off Marcia, I was so sad to hear about Daisy Mae, but what a great thing to do, adopting this old guy.. Hope he gives you many years of love and pleasure (once he stops barking that is :D )

OK.... here's what I read in 2 different books. One is Jan fennel The dog Listener and the other I can't remember. Haven't got a clue whether or not it works.

On a day that you will be at home put your coat on and leave the house, only do not take your usual exit. Leave by another exit even a window, wait 5minutes outside away from the dogs sight and then return by your usual entrance Most importantly as you enter the house you must totally ignore the dog for 5minutes. No eye contact whatsoever. Make a cup of tea or something. After 5minutes, call the dog, get him to sit and give him a treat. and then carry on as normal. Do this many times in the day, each time making the time away a bit longer . (maybe sit in the car or go to the local shop etc).

According to Jan Fennel, a dog does this because he sees himself as your protector, alpha, boss, leader etc, etc, and is actually worried about you being out in the world without him to look after you.

As I said, don't know if this will work or not, but may be worth a try if nothing else does. Best of luck.
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I have known people who have used the citronella collar successfully, but if the problem is separation anxiety, the dog will just find another outlet for his worry, like eating your couch (as Lightning did when he was a puppy). I can't really offer any suggestions, though, except maybe trying the citronella collar with him confined in a crate so he can't get destructive. Sorry.
Thanks everyone for your concern, I really appreciate it. Sadeyes, the system you suggest is exactly what I planned to do, but in our situation we can't afford to wait to address the problem. We did pick up a citronella collar last night. Mike took Rocky & Sally for a long walk before work, and turned on the collar as he left. I rushed home from work today to see if he was OK - I was so worried that the collar might have driven him mad, but he was fine. Instead of frantic barking when I got home, he let out a little "woof", not loud enough to set off the collar. I do know it was working, because he did do a normal bark and it went off. It seemed to startle him, but did not cause him to be unduly stressed. As soon as I got home I took it off and asked him for "speak". I wanted him to know it was OK to bark normally when the collar was off. He is extremely smart - after a couple of seconds he did a normal "speak" and got his cookie. I put the collar back on and he became very quiet. I think he's figured out the collar now.

I think another problem was open windows. We have double paned windows which muffle sound extremely well, but we usually leave some open. We'll make a point of closing every single one when we leave. Between this, the AM walks and the collar, I think we have a handle on the problem. Lightning&Stomps, I was also afraid he would channel the anxiety in another direction, but this appears not to be the case. Maybe he's old and wise enough to take a nap instead of stressing in another way. I sure hope so. In any event, he's in his forever home. :)
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Thanks everyone for your concern, I really appreciate it. he did do a normal bark and it went off. It seemed to startle him, but did not cause him to be unduly stressed.[/b]
That is how the collar works for most dogs not so much as an aversive but a disruptive stimulus that stops what they were doing.

For an interesting article on citronella collar and how to incorporate them into training see Citronella Collars

I put the collar back on and he became very quiet. I think he's figured out the collar now.[/b]
the only problem with this is the collar becomes the cue for the no barking behavior. You and the dog become Dependant on the collar. With a little extra training as described in the article above when you have time could eliminate the need for the collar all together. All is there not a way to shut of the spray. You could do this before asking him to speak. It may take some coaxing the first time but if the collar doesn't spray when you say speak but does when he barks and you don't will definitely strengthen your commands. I'm not big on the reliance of a specific tool as a cue for a behavior because there are time through forgetfulness, accidental damage, etc, you won't have the tool to use when you need it.
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I'm happy to hear it seems to be working out! Good luck!
Thanks for the info, Mikey T. The collar does have an off switch, great idea to leave it on him but turn it off before asking for "speak". Makes perfect sense.
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