The little dog’s main fears and consequent barking is either directly, or indirectly, associated with his fear of people.
Bentley is an adorable and much-loved Coton de Tulear. In researching the breed, the first site I looked at said that they hate being on their own and that they like the sound of their own voices.
The first, distress at being alone, certainly applies but I don’t think Bentley barks and cries because he likes the sound of his own voice.
The cause of his barking is his fear of people…
…and things associated with people.
This is whether someone just comes to the door, if someone comes into the house or when they see a person out on a walk. It’s the same with noises that people make, like slamming car doors and voices outside. (This dog that usually barks takes absolutely no notice at all of fireworks!).
His fear of people colours any trips to the vet or the groomer.
Changing his fear of people gets to the root of the barking problem and is the challenge. People should now be associated with things that Bentley likes and whenever possible on walks at a distance where he feels they are no threat to him. This threshold distance is important.
Here is a very short excerpt from my BBC 3 Counties Radio phone-in on the subject (referring to encountering other dogs, but it’s the same principal). https://youtu.be/7HNv-vsnn6E
Most unusually, when I came to the house he barely barked at all, although he was still wary of me. This is because of how we set it up. They will now use the same technique with other callers.
How they actually respond to the barking will also help his fear of people and the sounds he can hear.
All alone, Bentley probably feels vulnerable.
This can only be guesswork, but he invariably toilets soon after he is left. He’s very attached to the lady and follows her everywhere. It’s most likely he feels safest when with her.
They will be getting a camera so they can watch what happens when he’s left. This will tell us more.
Separation problems are slow to work on, particularly if it can’t be done systematically due to people having to go out to work. However, the more Bentley associates their leaving with good things and their returning as no big deal, the better.
He currently has run of the house when left. I suggest keeping him away from the front door area. This is where scary people may come and go and where people have pushed items through a hole in the door.
The higher are Bentley’s general stress levels, the less he will be able to cope with his fear of people and being left. Lowering arousal/stress is key. This may sound a bit boring at times but over-exciting activities can be replaced with those that help him to be calmer and more confident.[