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Sally G.
Sally G., Dog Training Consultant
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 9322
Experience:  Service/assistance dog training/ behavior /obedience/Therapy dog Evaluator/AKC Evaluator
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I have a very anxious dog. We rescued m 2 years ago and have

Customer Question

Hi, I have a very anxious dog. We rescued him 2 years ago and have tried everything we can think of to keep him from barking (he has a very high-pitched, insistent bark). He is rarely outside on his own and we normally bring him in as soon as he begins barking, mainly at our neighbor (who has a large yard). Our neighbor has made no secret of the fact that he hates our dog - he's not a 'people person' - and recently screamed at my husband when we had to put the dog in back so he wouldn't scare trick or treaters. I'm at my wits end. What would you suggest?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ as well as an assistance/service dog trainer, specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today.

When you say you have tried everything, can you explain more about what you have tried to stop the barking?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
First we tried training. Our trainer regularly works with shelter dogs and particularly those with separation anxiety, but eventually we all concluded that he was too anxious to make much progress. He has been medicated (with Fluoxitine) since just after we got him, and that has helped. However, he's very anxious and regularly bites if he's surprised (for instance, if a child suddenly bends down to pet him). Our neighbor got an ultrasound box for our yard which has had no impact whatsoever. He knows he isn't supposed to bark and looks at me guiltily once he recovers his wits. I also bring him in as soon as I notice him barking in the yard, and he recognizes that he's being denied a pleasure because he has misbehaved (tail between legs, guilty face).
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We also got a collar (sounds which progress to a light shock as he barks more) but that hasn't changed his behavior.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Actually he does not know he is not supposed to bark, he looks guilty because he sees your body language and hears your tone of voice. It does not mean he associates that with barking. This is a natural part of being a dog.

It seems you have gone the route of punishment so to speak for his barking rather than show him what you would like him to do and build on that behavior. Negative punishment, shock collars, loud noise, etc. only interrupts the dog's behavior but you are not giving him a command to obey instead which tells him what you want. Negative punishment on a dog that is already anxious really has no place in his life and can make matters worse. It is much like that human saying, violence begets violence. So over time the dog gets worse instead of better.

I would like to see you teach the dog the difference between speak and quiet so you can eventually give a quiet command and reward him for that behavior. The more good behavior you reward the more likely you are going to see it.

Right now it sounds like the dog is in a trap, has a learned behavior which has to be unlearned which will not happen over night. I am surprised that the trainer went the route that they did knowing this dog has anxiety.

At this point you have nothing to loose by trying a new way.

I am going to direct you to a site for clicker training and I would like you to do this in short sessions but do it several times a day. Dogs that are anxious need to be shown consistency by the owner, as well when you train positively you set the dog up to succeed and this builds confidence and reduces anxiety.

I will also direct you to links that show how to teach speak and quiet.

Medications alone will never do the trick, both positive training /counter conditioning and medication have to work together:)

Clicker training/positive method training/ print off

http://www.clickerlessons.com/

video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos http://www.clickertrainusa.com/clicker-training-videos.htm

clicker maintaining focus http://www.clickertraining.com/files/auto-eye-contact.pdf

Speak & Quiet

http://www.dogskool.com/web/news/summer2002/page3.html

** http://petcaretips.net/teach-dog-stay-quiet.html

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

I think once you get going on the positive you will see a change in the dog.