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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a set of four puppies and also adult dogs, mostly Aussies. As anyone with Aussies knows, these dogs are pretty easy to train. I signed up for puppy training classes for one of the little ones at Petsmart, and work the exercises I learn there with all the others (including the adults). This is working great. The puppies are just under six months old, and they already obey most commands and are a joy for the most part. I've learned that 'setting them up' to succeed and heaping praise works a lot better than punishing bad behavior, and everyone is house-trained as well.

The only issue I have is their barking. They're puppies and get excited, so some barking is to be expected. I crate them all at night, so when they bark a bit in the morning I know to get up and let them out for their potty breaks. Sometimes, though, they'll start barking at more or less nothing in the night and won't stop until someone walks to them and tells them to stop. This disrupts sleep and makes humans that can't sleep all day very cranky. When someone comes over everybody, including the adult dogs, starts barking and freaks out for a few. They're very friendly, and the excitement of someone coming over starts them on a roll. It's very, very loud. I'd like to discourage this barking.

I've purchased a small spray bottle to squirt water when they bark. The only problem is that three of the four puppies love water and love to get in the spray. I take them swimming with me sometimes. Even the fourth doesn't mind being sprayed, so the spray is out. Besides, I don't like to be associated with something that scares them. I'm not afraid in the slightest of discipline, but I don't want to engender a fear response in my dogs. I prefer to use the stern voice when necessary, and focus on positive reenforcement for 95% of their training.

I looked online for automatic solutions, and saw many options. I discarded the bark collar immediately. I'm not putting something on my dog that emits a shock. I wouldn't do that to my kids or myself, so I'm not about to do it to my dogs. I saw a PetSafe bark control system advertised and looked up the specs. One manual control system advised not to use it on dogs under six months of age. The stationary bark control system didn't have this warning. It advertises that it's effective at a range of 25 feet. Does anyone know if it's safe to use on dogs approximately six months old? If there's any risk, I'd rather just deal with the barking. The gist of it is that you can plug it in and leave it in a room or outside in a certain area to control barking. Supposedly the sound emitted only distracts the dogs from their train of thought, and doesn't cause them pain. I want to know if anyone has the facts on this. I read the reviews, and of course there're some that applaud how great the system is, and the obligatory reviews that say it's terrible and doesn't work. You never know if these are left by the company and people who just like to leave bad reviews, so I'm hoping someone on this forum has used these systems and knows a bit about them.
 

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The ones that emit a noise, from what I've heard from customers (I used to work at petsmart), are a joke. They work the first couple times if at all, and then the dog ignores it. I've never used one personally. I don't know what your schedule is like but if it were me I would just tire out the offenders before bed, play a really long tiring game with them or something. You could also leave something for them to chew or play with in their kennels. If they're barking at nothing, they're probably bored.
Also I'd avoid going to them and talking to them when they bark- it reinforces the behavior because you're giving them your attention.
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your input - and you're 100% spot on about reenforcing the barking when going to them. I make certain they get a lot of exercise, particularly in the evening. I think it may just be a product of them being puppies. They will probably grow out of it, but that still leaves the issue of people dropping by. The dogs aren't unfriendly - much the opposite except for two of them. But their barks when company arrive sounds like a full canine assault under way. I get this even with the adults. I don't mind if they bark a bit to announce someone's coming, but they continue for several minutes. It's odd, because other than this they are extremely well-behaved.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Not really sure how to up the stimulation even more, but I'll give it a shot. I was thinking of building an obstacle course in the back yard that's challenging but not dangerous for the dogs to run in. It'll be fun for me, too.
 

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Good idea :)

how much time do you spend with the puppies on an individual basis?
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putting the barking on cue and then teaching a "stop barking" cue works wonders...

I agree with cali tho, if they are barking at nothing, or are hair trigger to bark, perhaps uping the stimulation will help :)
crio... youre stealing my answers :mad: lol :D ditto!

Not really sure how to up the stimulation even more, but I'll give it a shot. I was thinking of building an obstacle course in the back yard that's challenging but not dangerous for the dogs to run in. It'll be fun for me, too.
PERFECT!

by the way, just curious, what the heck are you doing with 4 puppies at once?! my head would explode!!!!! lol :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
by the way, just curious, what the heck are you doing with 4 puppies at once?! my head would explode!!!!! lol :)
We had a female go into heat, and decided that we'd mate with with our adult male, then keep one puppy. She had six puppies, and luckily for me and my wife, she was a great mom. Then we decided two of them were especially cool, so we'd sell three, one was going to my niece, and two would stay. Selling even three was really harsh, because I suddenly realized that I was choosing people to take care of these puppies I was responsible for. If I chose wrong, they could end up miserable and even abused. In the end, I interviewed and then saw two families that I felt were good matches, and each went home with a puppy. I was selling two females and one male, and no one wanted to buy a male. He was really good, so I decided that if no one wanted him, I did. Then my niece didn't show the kind of responsibility we thought she would, so the last puppy ended up staying as well. As for a head exploding...

Our dogs have always had their own room. We bought a house that had an odd, long room close to the garage that was perfect. We could fit crates in there with plenty of space, and it was air-conditioned/heated. We installed wood gates to divide major sections of our house. We'd previously installed 7 tons of river rock at the side of our house and installed cement and a fence at the end to make a dog run. When the summer came we built a 5-foot tall wood shade structure and installed misters along it to cool the dogs while they're out (mainly early in the morning and afternoon/night, since I live in Phoenix, AZ). This might sound excessive, but it wasn't that hard. My wife is an incredible builder of just about anything, and I provide a measure of muscle. The rest was pretty cheaply bought at hardware stores, and her father had a cement mixer for installing the fencing. The river rock was the worst part.

Anyway, with this setup, I can let the dogs out in the morning to eat and do their restroom thing while I'm getting ready for work. They all sleep in crates. We don't leave at the exact same time for work, so there's usually some play time in the morning. Most play/training/walking time is in the afternoon/evening, though. We can place the adult dogs and the puppies in distinct areas if anyone is getting irritated, as sometimes the adult want to rest and the puppies don't understand. Basically, it's mostly automated now, so we just have to provide food, love and training.

We have one puppy and two adults going through obedience training at Petsmart, which I've found is a great help. The exercises are very simple, but it's amazing the little tips you can learn with a live instructor. I've been replicating this training with the other puppies, and they now dependably do sit, sit-wait-come, leave it (putting down treats they can't pick up), and a variety of other things.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
i hope you are planning to get your dogs fixed.....:(
You've got that right. I just had the mom dog and adult male fixed. The male dog had a complication after getting fixed. He had a vein nicked or something and his scrotum was very bruised and swollen. We got him in to the vet, got some meds and a week and a half later he's doing great. I'm going to find a new place, though it could have been a complete fluke. I was told by the vet that it just happens sometimes. Anyway...

The puppies are now six months old (nearly). The females are getting ready for their heat if the males' reactions are any indication, so we moved their crates into another room for now. I read a lot about times that were good for getting them fixed, and some places said that even before their first heat was fine. I also read that fixing them early like that can effect their growth and proper development. I decided to play it safe, so they'll have their first heat and I'll get them fixed around 10-11 months old.
 

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ow, sounds like your boy had a little pain eh? i would find a new vet too. i know they say it happens sometimes, but you would think with as many as they do a year that wouldnt..... maybe thats just me though. im anal about my vet. good for you for getting them fixed.

as for getting the young ones done.... there is a lot of talk about both waiting until after their first heat, or before. i had mine done before their first heat, 6 months old i believe, or about there. i cant speak for Chloe, she had HOD as a puppy and her growth was severely effected by that anyway... but Lexi grew just fine. shes very tall and 125lbs, maybe a little more. and smart as a whip. i havent had a problem with spaying before the first heat, and i dont know of any dogs that have. but there are arguments for both decisions.
 

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i havent had a problem with spaying before the first heat, and i dont know of any dogs that have. but there are arguments for both decisions.
I know this is straying a bit off topic but I was wondering what the arguments are for waiting until after the first heat cycle?

I haven't had Willow spayed yet. Because of how she reacted to the incision after hernia surgery (which is the same incision they'd typically make for a spay) I plan to have a "laser spay" done -- my vet apparently does this. Still though in the case it causes her any extreme discomfort I was planning to wait until as close to the first heat cycle as I could without letting her have it since I remember my rotts cycle and it was loud and messy -- I can only imagine how noisy a hound would be. When I first got Willow I remember reading similar stuff though about waiting until after the first heat cycle, but never read anything about why you'd want to do that. I'm curious to know why though since, if the theory behind it is a good one (even if not always the case) it may be worth putting up with one messy/noisy cycle before having her fixed.
 

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i cant help you exactly there with the specifics, because i am not one to wait until after the heat. i personally see no reason in it. but thats my personal choice. i think if you do a search on here you can find a lot about the arguments of both sides. i know it has been talked about a lot.:)
 

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OP - I too live in az, if you used a mobile vet or even someone super cheap, complications do occur often. I have a vet I love in ahwatukee and one in laveen, and a vets office I cannot stand in tempe. If you'd like a recommendation I can give you one, even if not in the 2 locations I stated as I have friends who work for vets around the valley and I myself have :)
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OP - I too live in az, if you used a mobile vet or even someone super cheap, complications do occur often. I have a vet I love in ahwatukee and one in laveen, and a vets office I cannot stand in tempe. If you'd like a recommendation I can give you one, even if not in the 2 locations I stated as I have friends who work for vets around the valley and I myself have :)
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Thanks, I'd love a recommendation, but I can't get out that far to do the spay/neuter, because I live in NW Glendale, and that would require the dogs to ride in the car after surgery for an hour or more. I didn't use a super-cheap vet. I went to a spay/neuter clinic on Bell and 16th St that had a lot of good reviews online. Rude receptionist complaints, but good reviews. My female was the more complicated procedure, and she was absolutely fine. A few days after, you could barely see the incision mark. My male, on the other hand, had a scrotum the size of a soft ball. That occurred two days after the surgery, and we had him in to the Petsmart vet that same day. He's 100% now, I'm glad to say, though I'm told that the swelling might take as long as six months to completely disappear.

If anyone know of good clinics in or around Glendale, please let me know. I'd use Petsmart, because everything else I've done through them has been great, but they are HUGELY expensive. I could not believe what they quoted me. Let's just say that it's nearly 4 times what other places are charging, and I just can't afford it. Their vet emergency care was reasonably priced, so I was confused at that.
 
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