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I have a male Coton de Tulear who will be 4 years old in…

Second opinion] I have a...
Second opinion] I have a male Coton de Tulear who will be 4 years old in April of this year. He constantly barks during the daytime hours. Most of the time they are low volume barks mixed with growling. He does this even though there is no activity outside. The problem worsens by the day now. I had surgery about a week ago, so I have hired a dog walker to walk him twice a day. In between her visits though, he does the non-stop barking. I have to wear noise canceler headphones to deal with it. This barking problem has increasingly become worse over the last year.We have tried a vibration collar that emits a vibration to his neck every time he barks (not harmful), and that seems to keep him a bay, but he paces the house when it is on. However, I do take it off after a while to prevent irritation to his sensitive skin, and he starts back up again. I have also tried spraying water at his face during episodes of continuous barking. I have not tried the citronella collar I see in another response on this site. I am afraid the spray may become messy.I would love any suggestions you might have. Thank you.
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Answered in 2 days by:
3/7/2018
Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20,443
Experience: Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
Verified

Hi JaCustomer,

Welcome to Just Answer. My name is Jane. I have been involved professionally with dogs in the healthcare and behavioral fields for over 20 years. I’ve worked as a Vet Assistant and Behaviorist and have extensive experience in dog reproduction, as a breeder, for even longer than that.. Canine behavioral issues and training are also my specialties. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

You have a few options. Since he does this when you are home, you can use training to help stop the behavior.. I had a dog that I got from the pound that did this when we first got him, so I understand you are being driven crazy.

Here is what worked for us. We left his leash on in the house attached to a chain collar. Each time our dog barked inappropriately we gave a quick tug correction to distract him, said "no bark" and had him sit. After a few corrections right in a row, he would finally stop barking for a second. When he didn't bark I'd give him a treat. By the end of a couple of weeks, he had reduced his barking significantly. We did go through a lot of treats. We used hot dog slivers as treats.

We did this over the course of a month all together, giving treats for non barking and eventually phasing out the treats and using praise instead with a treat only once in a while.

As crazy as this sounds you may wish to teach the pup the speak command and then the quiet command. It seems easier to teach the quiet command after the dog has learned the speak command. The following site explains teaching speak and quiet commands.

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

Clicker training also provides an interesting technique for stopping excessive barking which you can read about here:

http://www.caninetlc.com/articles/threebarkrule

You also have the option of getting a bark collar such as citronella spray collar, or shock bark collars. The spray tends to spray right into their nose and doesn't make that much of a mess but a dog will learn to bark a lot and use up the spray. Now I've found the shock collars are most effective and they also give a warning tone before the shock. You can also allow the collar to shock you first so you can feel the intensity of the shock. I've found the intensity is not that bad and it is more the unexpectedness of the shock that stops and deters the barking.

I have used shock collars for dogs that barked when no one was home. Generally speaking the spray and shock collars usually stop a dog from barking after only a few shocks or sprays. They learn that the tone means they will get a reprimand if they do not stop barking. At that point you can switch to a tone only mode to stop excessive barking. If the ultrasonic collar works than you might use a room device that emits a ultrasonic noise to use when the collar is off. I've had clients and my own dog that didn't even need to have the collar on after a few months. If the dog could see the collar, they would not bark. If you choose to check the shock intensity ask the person in the store to help you so you do not have to purchase it first.

I sincerely ***** ***** I have helped you. Please remember to rate my service by selecting the 5 stars at the top of the screen ( rating me now does not close your question). We can continue here until you are satisfied, simply use the reply box and let me know. Thank you!

Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20,443
Experience: Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
Verified
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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Thank you for your informative reply. I believe that a couple of your suggestions may be very helpful in our case. His constant barking is due to anxiety, so that has made things a bit more difficult. We do have an anti-bark collar that emits vibrations (not shocks) when he barks. It does seem to have some effectiveness, but this collar cannot stay on him for very long. Thank you again for your suggestions!

I did understand that you had one form of bark collar. I am unsure why you think his barking is anxiety based. However, if it is indeed anxiety based, then helping the underlying anxiety issue should help with the barking. While medications are fine for starting to work with a dog having anxiety issues, finding the cause is more important and addressing that. For instance if it were separation anxiety which it isn't since you are home, you would help him feel more comfortable alone.

If it is a noise based anxiety, then we can desensitize him to the noise. Often that is done on medication initially and then gradually continue training while discontinuing the medication. In the majority of cases, dogs bark for attention or to alert the owner. My point about the other collars is that they emit a tone first and then a reprimand. As a result after just a day or two in many cases of them actually receiving the spray or shock, the dog stops barking when they hear the tone. If you had an ultrasonic bark device in the home set up along with a collar, the dog would hear the collar tone and the ultrasonic tone. After a short while, the ultrasonic tone should also stop the barking even without the collar on, It would not be as fast as the tone from the collar but would still help to curtail barking when the collar was off.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Thank you. He barks at almost every noise he hears, like cars and trucks passing the house, items dropped or moved, the house settling (creaking), other members of the family walking about, etc. He is almost 4, and with him hearing these sounds for all these years, I would think he would be desensitized by now. He is also very much afraid of riding in the car; he is inconsolable, so we cannot take long trips with him. Meds don't even work for him here. In addition, he freaks out on walks when traffic passes by. I wonder if he was hit by a car in a previous life?? Your suggestions are great. Thank you.

Desensitization is a little different than "flooding" (having the noise everywhere all the time so the dog can not escape it) or experiencing the noises on a daily basis. With desensitization what you do is tape a noise that bothers him at the normal volume. Then you play that noise back to the dog at a very low volume while you praise him and feed him tasty treats like paper thin hot dog slivers as long as he is not being anxious. You gradually increase the volume continuing to praise and give treats and he will start associating the noise with good things like praise and treats. Eventually you want the noise even louder than the dog will ever experience it so it doesn't bother him.

Now if he becomes anxious during this process then you are moving too fast and increasing the volume too quickly. You need to take it back several steps and start desensitizing again. Once you have got him used to one noise, then take another noise and repeat the process with that one until he is desensitized to all of them.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Okay, we will start the process. I took a class from a trainer in town that was supposed to help desensitize through meeting at and experiencing different locations in town. The dogs were exposed to different noises and situations. Of course, none of the classes helped, except that he did become better socialized. He is anxious about many sounds, so this may take many treats and many months to improve. Thanks for your advice.

You are very welcome.

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