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Discussion Starter #1
I don't know what to do! He's barking all the time for hours on end. I have done all the training i can do, from the second I got him at age 9 weeks, to now, at 10 months.

There have been periods where he's stopped. Seemed like he had kicked the barking habit at 6 months with all my dedicated training. Just over and over again leaving him alone for short amounts of time and rewarding quiet behavior, and never rewarding barking at all. I was happy at 6 months that he was always well behaved, loved his crate, and was quiet when I left the home.

Around 8 months, he suddenly started barking all the time. The neighbors all informed me that he had started barking for hours at a time. Then he got to the point that he would start barking the second I left the room. He'd got nuts if I got in the shower. Barking when I was home was a totally new behavior!

I started again with all the training I had done at the beginning, like he was a brand new puppy. It helped a little, but he still went nuts after I left the home. Finally, I caved and got a citronella collar. I didn't want to, but I saw no other options. I wasn't planning to use it as an end all - it was supposed to be a training tool so that I could at least interrupt the barking so he'd go silent and I could reward and praise for silence. Because he was getting himself worked up into a barking tizzy. I felt sad doing it, but it helped a lot. I was consistently rewarding his silence, and I upped his exercise to three walks a day from two walks a day - in order to do that I had to walk him once in the morning and once in the evening and have a dog walker come in the mid day. Everything seemed to be getting better slowly. I regularly did a desensitization program every day.

One day, about a week and a half after he got neutered, there was something new - he went on a 24 hour barking party. At first he seemed anxious. Then it pretty much looked like he was having tons of fun, like the barking was entertainment. When he quieted down I let him out of his crate, but he continued to run around and bark bark bark, for the first time outside of his crate. He was just having a grand old time, jumping and playing and barking and rolling. I ignored it, as I usually do his barking. Then at 4am, I lost it and just went ape****. Started screaming at him. At that point he had been barking steadily since 6am the morning before. He was barely stopping his barking so he could eat and pee.

Anyway, after that, he didn't bark outside his crate again. I figured it was some sort of exceptional behavior brought on by the hormonal changes.

Nowadays, it seems to be getting better sometimes. Then it gets worse again. This week, for example, it's really bad. I can't even go get the mail without him barking. The citronella collar stopped working a few weeks ago, so I stopped using it as a training tool.


I'm not sure what else to do. I have him in daycare a couple days a week with a groupon, but daycare is $25 a day where I am (and an extra $5 to drop him off at my home in case I don't get back before they close at 7, which is often) and I can't afford that. I'm springing the money now but it's not sustainable and I sure as hell can't afford to leave him in daycare everyday.

His trainer suggested I try a pet corrector to interrupt him now that the citronella isn't working anymore, and just continue as I've been doing and expect that there will be good weeks and bad weeks. I ordered it, but I'm not too optimistic. He's a very brave, resilient dog, and I'm sure he'll get used to it and I'll be back to where I started. I don't believe in shock collars, and neither does my trainer, but even she says it get to the point where I don't think there's anything I can do, I might have to consider it.

Taking suggestions, new ideas, random observations and input. PS, not sure if I've made this clear, but I have never reinforced the barking or given him any reward or attention for barking (other than the 4am temper tantrum I described above).
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Oh, I should also add that before he used to eat his kong when I left home. Now he saves it and eats it when I get back. I usually leave other toys like a kong wobbler and plenty of chew stuff for him.
 

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What kind of dog is he? And as how much exercise does he get daily? He's definitely entering his adolescent phase, so that could have something to do with it as well.
 

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He's a mix of german shorthaired pointer and border collie. Definitely looks and acts more like a GSP.

Now he gets three short, calm walks a day (with experimentation I learned that with him, this is better than vigorous longer walks/runs, because once he gets worked up it take awhile to get him to settle) and a visit to the dog park for an hour or so two or three times a week.
 

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The citronella collar isn't the best option because the scent that deters the dog from barking lingers for a long time, so even if the dog stops barking, it will still think it's doing something wrong! This might not be the case with your dog because it sounds like he's nonstop barking, but the pet convincer won't stop him if he thinks that it's still worth it to bark even if you use the convincer on him. If this doesn't work, I highly suggest using an ecollar even though you are against it. A one second high correction is not abusive if it gets the dog to stop barking, which leads to the dog being less stressed (a nonstop barking dog is not a calm dog), you being less stressed, and hopefully you getting more sleep!
 

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I have a dog who had really bad separation anxiety. His was howling (he's part dingo) and it could last for hours on end. We worked solidly on the techniques you described (leaving him for increasing periods of time) for 6 months. Lucky for me, he is now able to be left for about 3-4 hours without getting upset. I often give him a bone, leave the radio on for him, and make sure everything is calm in the room. But that's just what's worked for us. I don't have anything to suggest that you haven't already tried but I just wanted to sympathise and say well done for trying so hard with your dog. It's really painful to know that they aren't happy, especially when you are doing all you can to help them. Lots of dogs have great turnarounds in their behaviours as a result of persistence and hard work like you're doing, so I hope it pays off in the end. Keep going!
 

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Why would a trainer suggest using punishment for behavior that suggests your dog is anxious? That's like punishing a child for being scared when separated from a parent. Get a new trainer.

Look into videos by kikopup on barking.

If this is separation distress, which it sounds like to me, get Malena DeMartini Price's book Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs.

Many people have had success with a Manners Minder treat dispenser for training a dog to not bark.
 

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To the above poster, Christine, suggesting the use of ecollars is against forum rules so please go back and read them.

Using a ecollar at high correction, for that second is high enough for the dog to feel it then stop barking is wrong. This also isn't solving the route cause of the behaviour, administering an electric shock for barking is only supressing the urge to bark through fear.

How much mental stimulation is he getting each day? So actual training sessions, brain games, scent games, trick training? These things will all help tire his mind and possibly help lower his anxiety. You have two very active, high energy breeds in that mix and its important to work both the mind and the body.

Please don't use an ecollar, pet corrector or any other aversives with this dog, I'd find another trainer, possibly a board certified vet behaviourist who will have more expertise and better tips to help with his anxiety. Not one who suggests pet correctors etc, because thats not training thats just making a loud noise (from the ones ive seen in my local pet shop) and scaring the dog into stopping the behaviour and supressing it.

I wish you the best of luck in helping your pup, adolescence may be a contributor in this situation and i hope you get it sorted out. Good luck and keep us posted :)
 

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Correcting the reaction to his anxiety is not going to help fix the anxiety. 90% of the anxious dogs have had their anxious behavior reinforced unknowingly by their owner. Believe it or not.

Training is not something you do with a puppy for 3 months and then never do it again until problems develop. Training is something that must always be done for the life of the dog so problem behaviors do not develop. Just like a child, rules need to be in place, and structure applied to the day to day lives of the dog.

Most times IME, the anxiety was brought on by an owner that constantly pet the dog when home. When the owners are home, the dog has little to no boundaries and not much is required of them other than to exist. They make a big show of leaving and saying goodbye. They do certain things routinely before they leave that they never do otherwise. Typically the dogs are under stimulated both physically and especially mentally. Dogs are smarter than people sometimes give credit for.

Dogs all have what I like to refer to as "restless spirit". As the dog has been evolving over the last 15k years or more, up until recently, the breeds were selected not by looks, but by the jobs they were intended for. Some are guard dogs, some for hunting, others for fighting other dogs etc. This restless spirit is a job that they were bred to do and do well. Those that did the job better than most, were bred to others that also performed well. The idea of having dogs simply for companionship and conformity is relatively new. So are many behavior issues that didn't exist before because people were actually working their dogs, not expecting them to behave cooped up all day with nothing to do.

Notice my emphasis is on the human's interactions with the dogs and not the behaviors of the dogs themselves? Dogs are a combination of nature and nurture. Humans bred in their inherent natures, and humans tend to nurture their bad behaviors. Whether they know it or not. Dogs were never meant to be "pets". They were meant to have a specific job and to perform it well.

A restless spirit with no outlet (no job to perform), will often result in the dog performing undesirable behaviors. It's going to come out one way or the other.

There are lots of threads here I'm sure you can read with lots of references to material that will help you learn how to treat your dogs anxiety. Kikopup, Zak George on youtube have good vids on the subject. Of course you can always get a book too, if you'd prefer.
 

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@EverythingEnglishMastiff Anxiety is an emotion. You can't reinforce emotions, you can only reinforce behavior. I pet my dogs all day long, I also greet them when I get home and say good bye when I leave and they don't have separation anxiety. LOL...

What you are describing would only work if the owner NEVER paid any attention to the dog until they were anxious. Even then they would only be reinforcing behavior, though.

It's OK to Comfort Your Dog! - eileenanddogseileenanddogs

Also, separation anxiety is not based in not enough exercise or not having a job to do. It's generally a chemical inbalance in the brain, just like people anxiety. You can't run them to death or give them a job and expect their anxiety just magically will go away. It generally takes medication and behavioral therapy.

OP, I would take your dog in to see a Vet behaviorist or you can have your regular vet consult with one and find a really good Positive Reinforcement trainer. Throw the citronella collar away! In severe cases of separation anxiety, usually RX medication is needed along with behavior modification training. You need a professional that really knows what they are doing. Separation anxiety is generally a long road and I'm sorry your pup has it.
 

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There is nothing wrong with E Corrector if nothing else worked. It should always be a last resort though. For me, it was that or get evicted or get rid of my dog due to all the complaints about the barking. After a 2 weeks of the collar, never had another problem and we are both nice and happy. :)

A lot of people are not very informed when it comes to these collars. My family has used them on our hunting dogs and it works perfectly. Not all dogs are naturally disposed to positive reinforcement. That is my 2 cents though.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
So it looks like my thread got some more responses a few days after I posted it.

So, an update: the pet corrector has worked, at first. According to my neighbors, they haven't heard a peep from him in two weeks, which is awesome. I continue to reward quiet behavior and ignore barking, and leave for different amounts of time, and being sure not to make a big show of it.

Before, I was sure not to make a big show out of leaving or returning. Lately, I upped the ante after reading in a book that usually a dog that can make it through the first hour can last for several hours. Now, I get dressed,have my keys, put on my shoes, and then hang out in the house for an hour quietly before I leave, trying to blur the difference of what the environment is like when I'm home and when I'm aways. Likewise, I often come home and ignore him for thirty minutes or more instead of my previous five minutes.

All this has seemed to help, but as before, I imagine it will get worse again when we have a bad week. Right now we're in a good phase, and I'll keep it up and try to continue to manage and train.

The pet corrector has been beautiful at interrupting him so he can go quiet and I can reward. But I'm aware that barking is only a symptom and that if I rely on that I'm not really addressing the core problem if the anxiety he feels. I've always left him with a kong, but these days I've been giving him more variety in his kongs and he's been finishing them, which is great.

However, the pet corrector is already losing its power - before one spray was enough to shut him up, and it now takes three. I imagine, just like the citronella collar, it will eventually be useless.

To answer a couple of questions: my trainer is very much focused on compassionate training and positive reinforcement - as part of our program she's given us Paul Owens' book on compassionate training. Her suggestion is based on her work with my dog and assessing his behavior, and she's still suggesting that an e collar could be considered as a last resort and even then only when I'm home and using it for training. I might consider it if he gets out of control again.

Someone asked me what a "short walk" is - it's 1.5-2 miles.

For now, I'm appreciating the fact that he's having a good couple of weeks and seems to be perfectly happy when I'm not home. And I'm ready for when it flares up again to continue approaching this problem consistently :)
 

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Jubial, what collar have you used? Did you ever use them past the vibrate mode? I've spoken to people who've gotten them and have had such great results with just the vibrate that they never had to use the shock.

I don't think I could ever go as far as using the shock.
 

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Honestly, a shock collar is likely to have the same trajectory you've already experienced -- the vibration may work to interrupt/suppress the barking for a short period of time, and then your dog will desensitize again and it will be as useless as the other punishers you've tried. I'd save your money.

A different tool you might try is the petsafe auto-trainer (Amazon.com : AutoTrainer: Stop Barking Using Treats, Not Shock! : PetSafe : Pet Supplies).
 

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Discussion Starter #17
@SnackRat that's awesome! I've been looking for something exactly like that! I also was looking at the Petzi

Amazon.com: Petzi Treat Cam: Wi-Fi Pet Camera & Treat Dispenser

So I can train when I'm not at home. I would watch him but wouldn't bother with talking to him because that would increase his anxiety I think, and I want him to learn to be home alone.

I like yours through because it has the sensor and would work even when I'm not checking up on him.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Update: So after about three weeks of impressive quiet, Dorje has started up again a little.


Luckily, it was briefer - about ten minutes of barking a I stood outside the door. When he quieted down I came back in, praised, treated, and left. Waited again, and he didn't bark.

He did miss his evening walk yesterday, though he got his morning walk, though I did replace his evening walk with some in house training.

ugh, when will this end?!!!
 

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Heh. This might not be your solution but my suggestion would be to get a second dog.

When we got our dogs, they had some pretty bad separation anxiety - from each other. I got the impression whoever had them before just tossed them out in the back yard and never paid any attention to them.

What we did was when we walked them, we'd go one person each dog, and then go in different directions. So they got walked apart. Didn't take long for them to adjust to thatl. That graduated to taking one out in the car somewhere, like to the pet store and leaving the other behind. Or walking one first, then bringing it back walking the other one. One time we took one to Galveston so they were apart most of the day. They learned separations were temporary and adapted.

The thing about our house is there's almost always someone at home and if there are no humans at home, there are 6 cats around.
 

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The citronella collar isn't the best option because the scent that deters the dog from barking lingers for a long time, so even if the dog stops barking, it will still think it's doing something wrong! This might not be the case with your dog because it sounds like he's nonstop barking, but the pet convincer won't stop him if he thinks that it's still worth it to bark even if you use the convincer on him. If this doesn't work, I highly suggest using an ecollar even though you are against it. A one second high correction is not abusive if it gets the dog to stop barking, which leads to the dog being less stressed (a nonstop barking dog is not a calm dog), you being less stressed, and hopefully you getting more sleep!
By ecollar do you mean a shock collar? If so @augusta please do not use.

A friend of mine put one on her barky dog. It didn't stop the dog barking but drove him into distress, which he expressed by barking more. The more he barked, the higher the correction was. My friend then had a job trying to catch the dog to remove the collar. Had she left after putting the collar on her dog, god only knows if that dog would be alive on her return.
 
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