Neighbours’ Complaints About Barking

Freda barks all day when left

Freda

Access to the garden all day makes the Jack Russell's barking worse

Chester

People often feel, if they are out all day, that their dogs need a lot of space along with access to the garden.

I frequently go to dogs that spend a lot of the long day barking, and often this results in complaints about barking from neighbours as is the case with the two little dogs I went to yesterday. Even though it’s probably only in fits and starts, it can seem continuous if you live next door.

Parsons Jack Russell Freda on the left is now eight years old, and Jack Russell Chester two. Although Chester is the more nervous of the two, Freda is the bigger barker, and suffers more when left.

When left all alone it is most likely that the two dogs eventually settle, but they will be vulnerable to all the sounds from outside which will keep starting them off again. Whenever they hear the neighbours feet crunch on her gravel path or a car slowing down outside, the dogs bark. They go quite frantic when someone comes up the path to put something through the letterbox and they can see out through a front window.

Giving the dogs access to the garden will be making things a lot worse in my opinion.  It’s no wonder they feel insecure, left all alone all day with run of the house and garden, having to deal with such a lot of guard duty. Instead of settling the will be alert to every sound, charging in and out of the dog flap barking and getting themselves into a state, with no owners about to reassure them that all is well.

Shutting the dogs comfortably in the large kitchen should be a lot easier on them, although to start with they may be frustrated – barking to get outside through the dog flap because this is what they have been accustomed to. The people can rig up a camera and have a word with the neighbour.

When family members come home it is to give the dogs a huge fuss. I’m sure if they tone down their greetings to make their coming and goings less of a major event, and if the lady can pop home at lunch time for half an hour, these little dogs will soon quieten down when left alone.

The second issue is about both dogs, Freda in particular, ignoring their humans when called out on walks. There are five family members and the dogs get everything they want upon demand by way of attention. While this is the case and while food isn’t used for rewards but given for doing nothing, the humans don’t have much leverage! They need to be more relevant in terms of getting and holding their dogs’ attention and work on this at home before expecting the dogs to give them attention out on walks – particularly ‘coming when called’ when there is something far more exciting to do like chasing a rabbit!

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Freda and Chester, 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 dog (see my Get Help page).

 

Over-Stimulated. How Can Terrier Gain Self-Control?

Over-stimulated Parsons Terrier uncharacteristically calm Who could fail to love Riley! He can be rather too much though! He’s a one year old Parsons Russell Terrier; he flies all over people and is extremely excitable.

Stimulating an already over-stiimulated dog like this with even more exercise and play can backfire. It all depends upon the quality of the exercise and play.

Out running in fields, doing his own thing, sniffing, chasing and playing with other dogs until he’s really tired is perfect – or would be if his recall was good enough. Pulling down the road on lead, straining to jump up at all the people he passes and panting to go and play with other dogs while he chokes himself must be very frustrating for him. It will have the reverse effect to a healthy, tiring walk.

It’s the same with play. Rough house, rolling around, chasing and getting him wild is going to make an already over-stimulated dog far worse.

How to calm down an over-stimulated dog?

Thinking games, impulse-control games, ‘come when called’ games and hunting games are what he needs.

He is super-excited before going out, he’s excited before meals and he’s very excited when they come home or when anyone comes to the house. All this excitement is, unwittingly, encouraged and fed into by his humans because it always results in what he wants. It needs to be controlled behaviour that gets the results he wants.

The problem that bothers the young couple the most is his uncontrollable behaviour when friends and family come to the house. This is an issue not to be addressed head-on alone. He first needs to learn to control his urge to fly all over his own people when they sit down, and not to launch himself at them when they arrive home.

They can teach him this with lots of short comings and goings, welcoming him calmly only when his feet are on the floor. If ‘Get Down’ worked, he wouldn’t be doing it any more!

Not all doggy daycare is good.

They have just discovered that at the doggy daycare Riley has been tied to a post with a head halter. From the photo I assume it was to keep him under control. On the last day the minder also talked of sedating him and he came back with a cut on his face, from forcing his way out of a crate. If daycare couldn’t cope with him (and I wouldn’t blame them for that at all) they should have said. He won’t be going back there.

Firstly these ‘trigger’ occasions need to become less exciting, and only his humans can do anything about that. It’s unwittingly mostly due to them that he is so over-stimulated. He needs to find quiet behaviour and feet on the floor a lot more rewarding. Finally and most importantly, he needs to learn some alternative behaviour that is incompatible with what he currently does in order to redirect his inner eagerness. It will take a while.

He’s such a lovely, friendly and sociable little dog, and it will be good when at last they can freely have him in the room with them when their friends and their children, or family and baby neice, come to the house.

Parsons Terrier to Learn Some Self-Control

Parsons Terrier Hardy sitting in his bedParsons Terrier Jack is a perky little dogHardy is a wonderful, perky little dog. He is also a bit ‘all over the place’. He reminds me a little of my Cocker Spaniel, Pickle, who is so enthusiastic that he seldom thinks before he acts!

Hardy is still only ten months old. He flies all over the place, he pulls badly on lead and may be unpredictable around other dogs – largely I believe because he picks up on the anxiety of his lady owner.

He is very open to encouragement and reward. It works so much better with him to call him away from something and reward him, than to command him Down or Off. He needs to be shown what he should do, not only what he should not do.

One problem is that Hardy doesn’t really know what is expected of him, because the rules are not consistent and the boundaries blurred. He has a very empathetic owner who was already learning quickly while I was there, and two lovely children who will help her.

Already Hardy was learning some impulse control.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.