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Thread: Dog barking when not at home

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Armidale, NSW
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    19

    Default Dog barking when not at home

    Hi,
    I tried to have a bit of search to find old posts on this topic but couldn't really find much.

    I'm having some problems with my dog. She's a 10 month old miniature poodle. In most ways she is pretty good, except for one that has just became a problem.

    For the last few months I have been studying and spending a lot of time at home with her, but more recently I am working part-time and having to go away to study. Although, she seems fine when I put her in the yard, I have been told she just barks and cries the whole time until I return. I borrowed my mothers dog and put her with her as I thought she may be lonely but still she barks and cries. She has bones and toys and exercise before hand. I even left her with a friend and their dog, and apparently when I was gone she ran around barking then just sat in the hallway and cried until I came back, even though another person was there. She is okay with my flatmate, or my mother, but anyone else seems pretty inconsequential to her.

    So I don't know what to do. I've been told to just lock her in my room when I go out but I don't want to lock her in my room for sometimes 8 hours. I don't think its nice for the dog, and frankly I don't want her in my room unsupervised.

    So does anyone know how I can fix this problem? She is fine when I am home, she'll bark when people come through the gate (which I think is a good thing), but she is quiet pretty much the rest of the time.

    What can I do?

  2. #2

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    Textbook separation anxiety, she's used to having you around and feels anxious and upset when you're not with her. When she barks and cries she is saying "pack leader where are you? I can't hear or smell you, I am very uncomfortable with this situation!" All the toys in the world won't help with this, you are going to have to reprogram her brain somehow.

    No guarantees, but there are a couple of things I know of that might work which are both based on gradual desensitization:

    Tie her up a short way away from somewhere you can step in and out of view. Step around the corner out of her line of sight and stay there until she starts whining or barking. Step into her line of sight, but ignore her and don't make eye contact. When she quiets down, step out of sight again. Continue this, and you should notice that the period of time in which she sits quietly should increase. This tells her that you will always return when she is left alone, but it doesn't reward her for being noisy. It takes a long time, but this has worked on dogs who bark and howl outside shops. I've never tested it on a dog who is left at home, so I don't know how reliable it will be.

    Another method is to designate a place for her to sit when you leave the house. A crate or kennel is ideal for this. It's similar to the method above, only this time you have to teach her to stay in the crate. Leave plenty of tasty chew treats such as pig's trotters and cow's hooves in the crate. Read about teaching a dog to STAY in this article.
    Once you've taught her to stay in the crate, give her a command to stay in the crate and then leave her in the garden. She will leave the crate and start howling and barking. Re-enter the garden and, without looking at her or speaking to her, lead her back to the crate, lie her down, and gently pat her so she settles down. DO NOT LOOK AT HER OR SPEAK TO HER DURING THIS TIME except to give the command "STAY". This will reassure her that you will return, but you will not reward her for being noisy. You will need to repeat this exercise many, many times, but you should notice an increase in the time she stays quiet. Eventually she will be comfortable on her own, with the knowledge that you will return after an unknown amount of time.

    Remember that you will need to give her a lot of exercise and properly tire her out before you leave her on her own. Get up earlier and take her for a run before you go out - a tired dog has less energy to be anxious.
    Last edited by Mosh; 08-29-2012 at 05:58 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Adelaide
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    What Mosh said.

    You will need to practice being separated when you're home and you can limit the time and gradually extend it so she gets the idea that the world is not going to end.

    I'd do it slightly differently to what Mosh said. I would make it really clear to the dog that she's not getting back with me unless she's quiet... so if she starts whining - I'm going back out of sight immediately.

    But I'd try to time my appearances to just before she would start whining.

    So you might shut her out the back or in a room without you (or a crate if you have one), for half a second and then open the door before she realises what happens.

    I inadvertently trained my dog to be ok about me leaving cos I forget lots of stuff and have to keep going back for things. It's really important when you do re-appear after a short or extended absence - to ignore the dog for a while before you greet.

    And for me and my dog this would happen because I would leave her shut in the house. When she was a puppy - she would be in a crate - to limit the destruction and mess. When I got home I'd let her out - if she was quiet - otherwise it would be like a kids game of "whats the time mr wolf" noise repels... so I'd let her out and go straight out the back door for her to toilet - and I'd act really boring until she had done a 1 & 2. And then I'd greet her.

    So play a version of boring peek a boo - start with 5 seconds, build up to 10 seconds, then a minute or so, then three minutes, then ten minutes... do not go back to the dog if she's noisy - just walk away again, and then back again - make a bit of noise so she hears you coming and then if she's quiet, you can go open the door, but be boring for 5 minutes etc.

    Look up crate training too. Dogs can sometimes feel much more secure if they've been crate trained - while you're home. Even if you don't shut the door - its a safe defendable place for them.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2012
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    Armidale, NSW
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    Thanks for all the advice.

    She's okay alone, like when I am at home she'll sometimes just go exploring outside for an hour or so, its just when I leave and she's locked up she gets upset I think.

    I'm going to try both the crate training and the leaving her for short times, then coming back.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    melbourne australia
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    the above suggestions plus:
    She'll sometimes go exploring outside for an hour or so?

    then i would put her outside and make her stay out there when you are home for increasing periods of time. Don't let her in if she is whining, catch her being quiet before you open that door.

    I recently went full time to cover someones leave for 6 weeks, my dogs let me know in no uncertain terms (ate their bed) that they did not approve.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2012
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    Armidale, NSW
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    She doesn't really have a problem being away from me when I'm at home. I just leave the door open, or if the door is shut she does the one yap (not a bark or cry) and that means "I'm ready to come in now", but often she'll stay out for an hour+ or just sneak in through my flatmates entrance (he has two dogs). The house doesn't have a yard (except for one I built - it backs onto bushland) so she'll go off alone (won't run away but goes looking about) but I want her safely enclosed when I'm not there, so I built a smallish yard (she can still run and stuff) for when I go out. She doesn't cry or anything if she's locked outside if I'm at home, and won't let her in, thats why I didn't think she would do it when I left, I only found out when a neighbour mentioned it.

    I'm thinking I might leave her in the yard while I'm at home for short periods at first, maybe while I am doing stuff outside so I can walk in and out of view so she gets used to the idea of staying there, but that I am still there and then get longer and longer. Its a bit hard because I do have to work on some days, so for those she has to be in there (or enclosed elsewhere) for the day.

    I'm also thinking crate training - or at least giving her a safe "den" even if not confined could be a good idea. I was thinking just getting her used to sleeping in a travelling crate (are they okay? Just an airline one? The one I have isn't huge but she can stand up in it and lie down, although maybe not fully stretched out) at night and when I go I can put it outside and its still a safe place that she knows. Is that generally how the crate training works?

    Great advice everyone!

  7. #7
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    "She doesn't really have a problem being away from me when I'm at home. I just leave the door open, or if the door is shut she does the one yap (not a bark or cry) and that means "I'm ready to come in now"."

    Precisely. She is happy to go out, coz she knows a) you are inside and b) one bark and you open the door.

    Hence why i suggest you dont open the door when she barks once, you leave her for 15 mins, wait till she is quiet and then go out to her.
    then 30 mins, then 45 mins etc etc. Waiting each time till she is quiet before you open the door, as you dont want to reward barking but quiet behaviour.
    When she can do an hour, then open door, say hi, go outside for a couple of mins, then go back in alone without her and repeat.

    With every dog ive owned, the smaller the space they are contained in, the more settled they are. eg. a crate, a laundry or toilet. Any crate will do, be it portable or more sturdy car ones. I have a travel crate i use wherever i need to.
    Both of my dogs could destroy that crate now should they wish, it would not contain them. But as its a fave place for both of them now, they are happy to sleep in it for most of time in the crate.

  8. #8
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    Adelaide
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    What Bernie said.

    Being in the crate is one thing - if the door is left open and access is available but ... shut the door and it's a whole different story. Something that you need to practice (train) to manage.

    My dog - if I stay home and she has free access to me - she's happy to do what she wants. But if I want to go put weed killer out before we go to the beach for our morning walk - she's not so keen about being separated - locked in the house without me. She's actually worse when I'm home than when I go out now. When she was very little - she howled a bit in the house when I wasn't home too.

    She goes in the crate with the door shut at club training - and she's not real thrilled about that. She likes being in the crate but she likes having the door open. But she knows - I'm not going to let her out of the crate when she's yelling - so she's learned not to yell at me. She might do one bark to remind me she's there, but she doesn't yell because I just cover her crate up with a sheet and walk away when she does that. She's figured it out.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    I love the sheet idea!

    that's brilliant. Im going with that on the Ute with Bernie big gob! So excited, he squeels. Its sooo embarrassing

    Im going to cover the crate up with a sheet. So he cant see out.

  10. #10

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    I had a big issue with 2 of my dogs and barking when home alone. Once I bought anxiety wraps it allowed be to proceed with the training programs described by the other members above. Google "original anxiety wrap" - it's a thin black coat which fits firmly over the dog with straps that cross over at the back. I bought mine on ebay for about $50 each but you have to get the right sizes or they won't work very well. It's based on accupressure points and making the dog feel secure as though it is being 'hugged'. It sounds silly but it really helped my dogs.

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