Dealing with dogs increased barking
posted at 5/19/2013 5:38 AM EDT
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Dear Dr. John,
My 6-year-old Vizsla has always been a bit of a barking dog, but recently her barking at people seems to have increased. She is perfectly healthy and is seen regularly by our veterinarian. She has lots of energy and we take her wherever we go.
We are renting a cottage for two weeks this summer near the beach, and we are concerned about her barking at the rental property.
As such, and because of the recent increased barking, I did some research and purchased a citronella anti-bark collar. The first time I put it on she quieted down probably because she has previously worn an invisible-fence collar. When she barked it did not work and we realized we did not turn it on. We corrected our mistake, and the next time she barked she got a blast of citronella and freaked out. Then she sulked around until we took the collar off.
Are there other options for us besides what we are using, and will she get used to the blast from the collar when she barks? Thanks.— M.S.
I do not have a good explanation for dogs sometimes barking more as they get older other than they sometimes get a little more ornery with age. In some breeds there can be genetic predispositions to increased aggression as they age. but that would be entirely different.
As for your other options, you are simply left with allowing her to continue barking and letting consequences be what they may, getting a shock collar, which I would not advocate, or working on training with a behaviorist and keeping your dog engaged in a way that she is preoccupied and thereby not inclined to bark.
However, the citronella collar that you are using is doing its job. The dog is supposed to be startled when barking and find the spray offensive. The spray that is emitted is triggered by electronic sensing of vibrations in the dog’s neck. You don’t want your dog to get used to the blast from the collar or it will not work, but one or two corrective episodes by the collar will probably effectively curb the barking behavior. If you are concerned about her quieting down or sulking, then use the collar only when needed and let her go without the rest of the time. The choice is up to you.
Re: Dealing with dogs increased barking
posted at 5/24/2013 9:44 PM EDT
Asking a dog not to bark more is like asking you to talk less when you feel the need to express yourself. It's not fair to the dog. So, as the doctor indicated, dealing with the underlying need your dog has to express himself or herself in the first place with an animal behaviorist is what's best for the dog.
Will the citranella collar work? Sure, but as you've already experienced, your dog isn't going to be happy about it. Other than simply letting your dog be himself or herself and bark, dealing with the underlying cause of the dog's need to bark in the first place is the only way to go if you really care about his or her happines.
Just my two cents' worth. Hope this helps! :-)