At six months old, Daisy came over from Eastern Europe. She lived with a someone nearby before the lady took her in three months ago.
Daisy is now one year of age – a beautiful mix of many breeds.
She is polite, friendly and absolutely lovely – a real tribute to the lady who has worked hard. She can be taken anywhere.
Apart from one problem. Barking in the car.
She barks so much in the car that the lady has to wear earplugs!
I found out as much as I could about the general context of her life before examining the barking issue itself in detail.
Analysis of the barking in the car
When exactly does barking in the car happen and when is it at its worst?
- On leaving home. It’s a calm exit from the house. Daisy seldom barks as they build up speed after leaving home.
- On leaving their destination. Daisy doesn’t bark
- Approaching a known destination: The lady believes Daisy recognises when they approach somewhere they go to regularly. She starts barking in the car when the speed is down to about 20mph. The indicator is another trigger. Both of these things will predict pending arrival at a destination.
- Approaching an unknown destination: this is something the lady will now monitor. I suspect the triggers of slowing down and the indicator will still apply.
- Approaching home. Daisy’s barking in the car is at its worst. She starts as soon as she realises she is near home. The noise is louder.
- The indicator clicking. Her barking in the car is also triggered by the indicator sound which in itself can be a trigger. She will associate the indicator clicking with slowing down which itself may predict pending arrival somewhere.
Picking it apart, we realised that Daisy’s barking in the car is all about her anticipating arriving somewhere.
She also pants. The lady interprets this as caused by some anxiety. Possibly it’s due to excitement too. It’s important that arrival at places along with meeting the people is as calm and casual as possible.
‘Calm arrival’ procedure
In order to work on this, we are working at it from the end backwards, i.e. the end bit – approaching home.
It also requires some experimentation.
The lady will do a short daily ‘setups’, driving around within a couple of minutes from home. She will overshoot home and approach from both directions, driving around/driving past. She will try stopping and starting if safe.
When Daisy stops barking or when she doesn’t start barking at all, the lady will mark the moment with a ‘bridge’ such as a word (Yes or Quiet) and find a way to feed her. To be effective, this needs many repetitions
There are a few technical difficulties with feeding safely while driving!
I have seen someone successfully use a length of pipe. This would lead from beside her to the back seat where Daisy is belted in. Failing this, she could throw some kibble behind her (she has filled in the back foot well so food won’t escape onto the floor).
Ideally they would do no other car travel for a while until Daisy stops barking in the car altogether, but that’s not possible. Instead, the lady will allow extra time. She won’t go directly to the place she is visiting – or directly back home. She will practise her ‘calm arrival’ procedure.
With experimentation and patience, I’m sure Daisy will before too long stop barking in the car. Extinction.