UPDATE: Something happened this morning and this will be the last day with the collar. I'm a firm believer in "everything happens for a reason" and I am being asked to give the collar back to the other dog (for incredibly sad reasons).
The other dog that we borrowed the collar from is now leaving our condo complex because neighbors are complaining about the barking. He is over the weight limit in our condo docs (90% of the dogs in our building are) but they are using that against the owner as a reason to ask her to get rid of her dog. She either needs to give him away or pay $25 a day. I feel so incredibly sad for her. I cannot imagine having to give Reddick up. Reddick is so well behaved at home and luckily we have not had any complaints from our neighbors. Please send love to this dog and pray that he finds a good home and that the owner can find peace in having to let him go.
And after just a few hours with the collar and this happening this morning we are opting not to use it anymore. I don't regret trying it, but that yelp was just way too scary for me. I think we can find a better/harm-free method to get him to stop barking.
With that said, I'd love your advice now more than before - what methods have you used for barking training?
I know some of you out there either have a dog, want a dog, are thinking about getting a dog or just like hearing about other people's dogs. (If you are in the category of people who don't really give a crap about dogs and think they are not that fun, you might not want to continue...but come on, Reddick is SO cute!) I know that I appreciate hearing stories from other puppy owners about the same things that Reddick is going through. I like the support that I get from other puppy moms confirming that I am not crazy for Googling "smelly puppy farts", "dog scratching face all the time" or anything else that Reddick does that doesn't seem normal.
We have learned a lot from Reddick and taking care of this little guy. I love watching him and my fiancee interact and play together. I also love how the fiancee shows this insane level of concern that I've never seen before when something is wrong with him. (He's going to be an amazing dad and I am not ashamed for assuming so because of the way he treats our dog!)
Reddick has crammed a lot into his 10 short months on earth...
He had kennel cough when we first got him. Imagine this little guy hacking away. So devastating. Luckily, kennel cough is easily treated with some antibiotics from the vet. If you rescue a dog that has been in a kennel or foster home, he/she might end up with a little cough. Treat it right away and you'll avoid any problems.
There was also the first time that we had to leave him alone for longer than 4-5 hours. I came home from a trip to Florida and MJW (I'm certainly not sick of typing fiancee but I am sick of battling with the correct spelling) was en route to Oregon. After a few days he had a huge accident in the middle of the night. What the heck, right? Well I thought he was acting out and just a little furious that we were both leaving him all of the time. Come to find out, he got his little paws on a dead mouse over the weekend and had a parasite-thingy in his stomach. Gross. But again, curable with a little bit of meds from the vet. When in doubt, go to the vet. We have made a lot more trips to the vet than we anticipated in the first year with Reddick, but it's totally worth it. I'm a worry wart and I just want my puppy well!
Then he had his first sleepover with our friend's dog, Pandora. They had a blast together and it was comforting to know that although rowdy at times, Reddick can be very sociable with other dogs. I highly recommend bringing a new puppy around other dogs as soon as you can. It really helps in the long run.
And then we had the stitches incident. Stressful, awkward and a really sad week. But I must say, Reddick looked kinda cute after awhile in his socks.
We took Reddick home for the holidays and he spent most of the time outside playing in the snow. He was not a happy puppy coming back to Maryland where he had to be on a leash all the time and spend all day indoors.
Now Reddick is going back and forth between spending days at home and days at the office with me. Our biggest challenge with him at this age is his barking. He is always full of energy and always wants to play. If you don't play with him right away, he starts barking. If he's around another dog that's barking, he's barking. It's not so excessive that we think he's an incurable dog, it's a normal part of him growing up. But it is one habit I do not want him to get comfortable with. It's already a little too comfortable. People who are around dogs can tolerate a lot of things, but excessive barking can put people over the edge. It does affect my office environment (obviously) and that is why we are testing him in both environments. So far we have tried a few things...
At home, I've used a spray bottle with water and just sprayed him in the face when he barks. It's effective, and he usually runs away from me when I start spraying but it hasn't really stopped him. He's learned pretty quick that he's faster than me and takes full advantage of it by running circles around the island. (Funny mental image, huh?)
I also tried excessive praise and treats when he goes a long time without barking. If he barks, I say "no barking" and reward him if he stops for 10 seconds. If he does it again, we do the same thing and I reward him if he stops for 20 seconds. Eventually he did learn to stop for one minute. This worked, but again, wasn't really all that effective because nothing was stopping him from barking in the first place. I also hated giving him treats after he barked because I was convinced he thought getting a toy or a treat was always a result of his barking.
And now I'm about to tell you the method we are attempting right now. (And I'm pretty nervous because I'm afraid you are all going to think I am an awful puppy mom...) Our neighbor used a bark collar on her dog and claimed that it trained him to stop in less than two weeks. She insisted that we borrow it and give it a shot. I have read a lot online about barking and how to train your dog not to bark. There are those of you out there who are absolutely against any kind of training involving a shock collar and then there are those of you (vets included) who say that it's completely OK and sometimes the best method. I am on the fence. I hate, absolutely hate more than anything in the whole world, seeing my dog in pain. When he pukes, trips, falls, poops too much, chokes, coughs, burps, etc. I am right there for him to comfort him and ease his pain. We've also learned that Reddick, just like most dogs, learn from pain. Will he ever put his nose in the oven again? Nope. Will he ever walk on that big pile of salt again? Nope. He learns very quickly what is good for him and what is not. When we were told that we could borrow this collar I was crossing my fingers it was one that sprayed that citronella stuff in his face when he barked. Of course it wasn't. It was a shock collar.
|This particular collar has gotten over 72 reviews and most of them are success stories (and not stories about it hurt their pet). It's from PetSmart.|
Reddick has been wearing it all day today and he has been so amazing. He was quiet all morning at work, slept most of the time and just has been crazy good. I thought maybe having the additional piece of bling around his neck was doing the trick without even going off. Well he got bored and of course, he barked. At first it was nice and quiet and nothing happened (he gets a little bit of a buzz then). If (and when) he barked again, a little louder, he got a bigger buzz. Finally, he barked with his new big boy bark and he yelped almost immediately after. Holy freaking crap. Call me crazy, but tears came to my eyes, I ran over to him and just hugged him. He seemed a little shaken up, but within a few seconds realized, "ok, I guess barking is a bad idea" and went to lay down again. He barked once more, and the same thing happened. I freaked out, but eventually I guess we will both get the point of this collar, right?
He hasn't barked again and every time I think he's going to bark, I cringe and excessively tell him "don't bark don't bark don't bark!" and he listens. I might be more scared than he is. I feel awful. But I also feel that it's working. He seems that he's learning pretty quickly that barking is not going to be comfortable.
Have any of you used a bark collar on your dog?
How did you train your dog not to bark?
I'm a little concerned this might scare him away from all barking...I still need my guard dog when MJW is out of town!
I'm really curious to hear all of your thoughts. I am going to bring him to work with me for the next few days and keep it on while he is there. He won't wear it at home because he doesn't really bark a lot at home. I hope that you might benefit from the ways we do and don't train our dog. I assure you he is still running around and being a happy little puppy. We went out for a little one mile jog tonight and so far he's been quiet and very well behaved at home. He's going to town on one of his bones right now.
And I'm pretty sure a lot of this will be going on later...