Lucy barks when they go out and leave her. Now they have had a letter of complaint from their neighbour.
You would not believe that Lucy Lurcher, a cross between Lurcher and German Shepherd, is now nearly sixteen years old which in itself merits two photos!”
Lucy is absolutely no trouble at all, spending a lot of her time sleeping – that is until she is left. A change in circumstances a couple of years ago meant she was left alone all day, something she wasn’t used to; she barked all day.
The man now drops her off at his mum’s on the way to work, but the barking problem occurs when he and his wife want to go out in the evening or weekends.
Not only does it annoy the neighbours, it’s not at all good for Lucy herself.
Many questions didn’t quite give us the complete answer as to why she’s doing this. There are several possibilities.
It could be loneliness – when any company would do. It could be specific separation from a person – and this would be the gentleman not his wife because Lucy follows him everywhere and cries if she can see him talking to a neighbour through the window, even if his wife is in the room with her. She says Lucy is quiet in her company when the man has disappeared out of sight.
Separation problems can be caused by boredom which won’t be so in Lucy’s case.
The other thing they hadn’t considered and I feel is a strong element, is that she or hears sees something outside and that starts her off, and that there could be a mix of causes. Her food bowl is left just outside the window and a visiting cat and birds regularly come to eat unfinished food which causes her to bark. There is no curtain.
They will be setting up a video camera which should give a few answers. They will also put static window frosting over the garden window so she can’t see out and they will be feeding her indoors now. Finally they will be working hard at desensitising her to the triggers that herald their departure along with other ‘separation’ strategies.
This beautiful old girl deserves to live out the rest of her life to be devoid of this distress and panic.
NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Lucy, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).