Dear Deborah: Your column gives me new hope. I have tried everything from professional trainers to anti-barking collars to veterinary consultations and nothing works. My dog Winston is a year and a half old male boxer who barks excessively and continuously when left along. Any ideas? Barking Mad
Dear Barking Mad:
First I want to say I sympathize with you. Separation anxiety can be a frustrating and persistent problem. Try these tricks:
- Avoid big hellos and good-byes
- Ignore him when you come home for at least five minutes
- Do not reward him by comforting him for barking
- Kennel train him and kennel him whenever he’s alone
- Make sure he is not always near you when you are at home
- Praise him for quiet and teach the command as a positive
- If he already associates “quiet” with punishment, use a new word
Teach him the “quiet” command the same way you teach sit or come. With praise and rewards. To train quiet, you must kennel him and instruct quiet. Release him only when he is quiet and never when he is barking. Teach him that barking will get him farther from you, not closer, by increasing the separation if he continues barking.
Each time his barks force you to come to him, he must learn that he will get less contact. Throw a towel over the kennel at the first stage. Next, shut the door to that room and, if necessary, move the kennel to a far-away room.
When he gives up and becomes quiet, you can praise him and love him with no limits. But whatever you do, do not go to him for barking. If you give in first and release him for barking, he will always bark out commands.
It is very important that we keep the kennel positive so that the fear that fuels his barking will disappear. To achieve this, feed him all meals in there. With repetition, he will think of the kennel as his own den and cafe. Leave him with a chew toy he likes, and nothing else. Hide surprise treats inside his kennel and teach him a command word so you can make a game out of the kennel.
Dear Deborah: My name is Sarah. I am 13 years old so I have to go to school every day and leave my dog Suzy at 8 a.m. My parents go to work at 9 a.m. and she’s alone by herself untill 4:30 p.m. Lately, she’s been sleeping all day Then at night she won’t let us sleep and barks and runs around the house. What can we do to stop her sleeping all day?
Wake Up Little Suzy
There isn’t anything you can do to stop your dog from sleeping when you leave her alone all day. Dogs need a lot more sleep than humans so sleeping all day shouldn’t make Suzy keep you up all night.
What Suzy needs is more exercise. Every day she needs a good workout in the morning before you go to school, and another one when you come home. A walk around the block is not enough. Play games with her at the park or take a bike along to give her a good run. If you can make exercise part of your daily routine each morning and evening at the same time every day, Suzy will let you sleep at nights. Sweet dreams.