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Thread: Kelpie with issues, barking

  1. #1

    Default Kelpie with issues, barking

    Hi,

    I have a 10 (ish) year old Kelpie X who I adopted from the RSPCA 7 years ago. It is obvious that he was previously abused. He reacts, normally agressively, to people, other dogs, car, bikes, basically anything, in particular males. He has bitten people before. Since then, he does not leave the backyard unless leashed and muzzled. I normally try to walk him when there are less people around as well to avoid issues. If there is a stranger in "his" backyard, he is most likely to run, hide, and will be exremely scared (shaking, tail right under, very scattered). While these issues are a problem, I am able to restrain him and work around it, so they aren't my biggest concern. I am working on these, and he is improving, but I don't think he will ever be "normal" (and who can blame him).

    When I first adopted him, I was living at home, and he wasn't home alone as much (shorter school hours then work hours, and my mum only worked a few days a week). Also, we had a very good relationship with our neighbours. I don't know if it has been an issue since I moved (2 years ago), or if no one was really bothered by it. I have now been told by my neighbours that he barks, continuously at times, while I am at work. I understand that this is not acceptable, and am doing what I can, however I need help.

    He gets daily walks, however his arthritis sometimes reduces the length of these, and my bad knees means I can't run with him, and his aggression issues means he doesn't get off-leash time, so I am sure it is not enough, but it is the best I can do (unless there are other suggestions). I have tried a vibration collar, however I think the unit may have been deffective. He is alone from 8am to 5:30pm Mon-Fri. He is not allowed indoors, except for the laundry, and has a reasonable sized backyard. I leave him with treat dispensing toys, treats and/or raw bones (rotated). He has plenty of shelter and fresh water available. He seems to enjoy me leaving as that means he gets his treats, toys, etc.

    When he barks when I am at home, I will discipline/distract him from barking, however even when I don't, he only barks a few times and then whatever he is barking at (normally a passerby) moves on, and he stops. I am not sure how to stop him doing it when I am home alone.

    I have been working with Bark Busters with him, however the technique/style of punishment and fear they use, I don't really agree with. They have said he probably has seperation anxiety, however his only suggestion to counter-act it was to "leave" then walk back and try to catch him out barking so I can punish him. There must be a better way?!? If you have read this far through, thank you, and any suggestions you can offer I would really appreciate. Any other information needed, please just ask.

  2. #2
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    I would forget about Bark Busters and spend your money on a good behavioural trainer. They will be able to help you not just with the barking, but also give you some advice on how to manage his other issues. They will device a strategy that is not based on some standard formula, but based on their observations of your dog and his individual needs. Tell us what area you are in and someone here will be able to recommend a reliable trainer. But really, stop wasting your money on Bark Busters.

    But what I have read about separation anxiety here and in training articles, is that the best way to train your dog out of it is by reducing the effect of the triggers. So start getting ready to leave, then take off your coat again and go about your business. Walk out the door, come straight back in. Get in the car, close the door, go back in. Etc. Maybe someone else can explain this better and also explain the theory behind it, because I really am not an expert myself.

    Also, is there a specific reason why your dog is not allowed inside? Because that is my method to preventing boredom and separation anxiety with my dog. She always has access to the house. Is your dog never allowed inside, or only not when you go out?

  3. #3
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    There are different bark collars out there that can help with this issue, citronella spray collars and electronic shock collars (they aren't as bad as the name sounds). Is it just when there are passers by or does he bark at other things?

    I know it may be obvious by I thought I'd ask, does he get a walk to wear him out BEFORE you go to work or just after you get home in the evenings?

    Water exercises can help wear out a dog with arthritis as it's easier on their joints, though I don't know many people that would fancy the water in this weather.

    I've known a few people who have tried bark busters, all of which have not had good things to say. I believe they are very narrow with their techniques, unable to adapt to each dog. If anyone else on this forum has had experience with them, I'd be happy to hear some positive stories about them...?

    Rotating toys each day keeps the dog interested, as it is like getting a new toy each day. If they are the same toys every day it can become predictable, and therefore less fun, to the dog.

    I may be wrong, or I may have misread, but I feel that if it was separation anxiety behaviour he would bark when you are home more that what you have stated above.

    Good on you for continuing to work with him with his behaviour, even at such an age. If you haven't put up pics, we are all a little obsessed, so they would be appreciated

  4. #4
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    Beazley

    Depending where you are there are some really good dog/people trainers like Mark Singer in Adelaide Dog & Puppy Training & Behaviour | Dog Whispering - Adelaide Canine Training
    or Steve Courtney in Hawkesbury/Sydney area K9 Pro The K9 Professionals; Online Dog Shop or even Nekhbet who posts here from time to time - Geelong Vic.

    They can teach you how to manage your dog's separation anxiety and barking in a much more positive way than bark busters. My neighbours got bark busters in - and it was a total fail. The dog still barks, chases and kills birds in its back yard. It's horrible.

    In fact I know lots of people who have tried bark busters and not one who has had success with their techniques. If it's a technique the owner is not willing to use or doesn't understand it - it's going to fail even if it is a good technique. But there is plenty of science out there that shows using aversives (things your dog doesn't like or is frightened of) as punishment can do long term harm and is not as effective as using rewards when your dog does what you want.

    When I go out, my dog stays inside the house, so even if she did bark - nobody would be bothered by it. But she only barks if she knows I'm still home. Ie she figures I should let her out.

    I solved much of the problem when I am going out by being extremely forgetful. Ie I go out, I come back for sunglasses, go out, come back for hat, go out, come back for drink of water... go out, come back, forgot the phone, go out, come back...

    Kelpies are really clever and have long memories. I don't think a collar will work - because he will figure out how to empty it / deplete the batteries before he figures out he's not supposed to bark when he's wearing it. And he will figure out he only gets into trouble for barking when he's wearing it.

    A covered crate may be an easier way to deal with the problem. But you have to train him to enjoy being in the crate first. A covered crate with an open door is often viewed as a safe place by a dog, like a kennel. And then you can train them to be ok with the door shut, when you're at home and leave them there when you're out.

  5. #5

    Default

    I have just posted the above in the "Puppy Discussion" threads so I apologise to those who have read both posts.

    <<However you do not need to take the dog for walks if you train the retreive. Find a horse supply store and see if they have buggy whips. Tie a piece of sheepskin to the end and drag this in front of the pup. When she catches it, shorten up the line until you can grab the skin and have a game of tug. Remove the skin and throw it away and immediately drag away from dog so the dog has to chase. Repeat
    If you get her really tired she will sleep for a couple of hours.
    When she wakes up , a kong filled with peanut butter will keep her occupied for a long time.
    Tie a piece of bungy chord to a tree or fence and tie a piece of sheepskin to the end. Having taught the pup that sheepskin is nice to play with, she will try and run off with this piece. As it stretches out, she will let go and as it springs back, she has to chase it to catch it again. >>
    Nev Allen
    Border River Pet Resort

  6. #6
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    Ummmmm.....Nev, her dog is 10 YEARS old, not 10 months old and it has arthritis issues, so jumping around after a sheepskin on a bunjee probably isn't the best solution.

  7. #7

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    Thank you Beloz, The Pawfectionist, Hyacinth and Nev Allen for your responses.

    Beloz - The fact that Bark Busters has the same strategy for a dog who has been abused and is visably shaking, rather than one who has bad training says a lot to me. Fortunately (or unfortunately) they charge a one-off fee, and then will continue to work with you for the life of the dog, so I am not losing more money by working with them, but the more important part of whether it is good for my dog or not. I am based south of the river in Perth if anyone has any suggestions for trainers which I might consider in the future?
    With regards to training him with triggers of me leaving, he really seems to look forward to me leaving (because that means treat/toy time). I have no issues doing this training, but I'm not sure how to do it when he doesn't display any concern until I am well and truely gone.
    He is not allowed inside as a condition of my rent. He has never been allowed inside in the time I have had him, both here and when I lived at home. I actually have no idea if he is house trained or not, never had the opportunity to find out.

    The Pawfectionist - I'm not sure what he is barking at all the time (due to it normally being when I am not home). Passers-by would cause it, as would the neighbourhood cat that sometimes sits behind my back fence, birds, anything and everything else. Luckily, neither of my direct neighbours have a dog, otherwise it may never stop. I have heard that with the citronella collars, a lot of dogs just bark until they run out?
    He has had walks both before and after work, they used to be more before, but with the colder weather setting in, it is more afterwards now. It hasn't seemed to make much difference.
    I've always liked the idea of taking him swimming (not in this weather though!), but without my own pool, I can't really see him being at a dog beach, because there tends to be other dogs, people, etc there, and they aren't really close-by either. Is there another option staring me in the face I might be missing?
    He does get his toys/treats for the day rotated. He has a couple of treat dispensing toys that are used more frequently, but since they get new food in them, he still loves them. They still aren't used every day though.
    That's interesting about barking more when I am home if it was seperation anxiety. That is absolutely not the case, he is quite good with his barking when I am at home. Unfortunately, I do have to leave the house and go to work, otherwise it would be a complete non-issue.
    To be honest, I had given-up on his other issues (controlling circumstances rather than his behaviour), but the barking needs to be dealt with, so I may as well work on eerything, and I am quite happy with how he is coming along with his other issues, we can almost go for a walk without me losing my arm as he goes after something.
    I will see what I can to about the photos. He is quite cute when he is not barking, growling, snarling, etc.

    Hyacinth - I am located south of the River in Perth.
    The views you all have of Bark Busters is a bit concerning really... I wonder how they manage to run successfully with that sort of view.
    Unfortunately, coming further inside than the laundry is not an option. Surely many dogs must be outside pets reasonably successfully?
    The coming in and out is interesting. I can certainently leave a bit earlier in the morning to try that, as well as on weekends.
    It is a pity I can make that smart trait understand when I tell him that the barking upsets the neighbours!
    Is a crate suitable to be in continously for 9.5 hours a day, 5 days a week? I would have thought that is too much. How do you know when it is too much?

    Nev Allen - He has a soft toy soccer ball that he loves chasing around (and I like it better then a tennis ball because it is bigger, so it doesn't get saturated in his slober, and so it less disgusting for me to touch). He isn't very good at giving it back without me taking it from him though. But I certainly could use that more.
    Is it ok for dogs to have peanut butter on a regular basis? I've always reserved it for special treats, but perhaps I was misguided.
    I might have a look into the bungee cord suggestion, thank you. ... or not with The Pawfectionists very valid point, that may not help him at all.

    Thank you all so much for your help, I will look into some of these options. Is there any way for me to test if it is working other than asking the neighbours? I will if I have to, however when I have approached them about it, they seem more interest in complaining when he is an issue (justified) than giving any further information that might help me address the issue.
    Last edited by Beazley; 05-17-2012 at 10:28 PM. Reason: Edited for crucial word of "not" with regards to when he is cute.

  8. #8
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    Very frustrating to have to try solve a problem that you cannot even witness firsthand. The only thing I can think of to monitor his progress is some sort of a recording device. Wouldn't even have to be video, sound only would be sufficient. But I can't really give any tips on what to use, I'm afraid.

  9. #9
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    I'm not sure about trainers in Perth. You could email Steve Courtney via his website and ask him to recommend someone. He recommended Mark for us in Adelaide.

    Steve Courtney also has on his website how to choose a good dog/people trainer.

    Sometimes - depending on your neighbours, arming them with suitable treats for your dog, and instructing them to throw them over the fence when your dog is quiet, may help. But. If he's barking because he's stressed or freaked out, it's unlikely that he will notice or be interested in the treats.

    Crating while the owner is out, is pretty standard where most dogs live in apartments eg big cities in Europe and North America. Some of those places, it's way too cold in winter to let the dog stay outside all day anyway. Like here it can be way too hot in summer.

    If my dog barks in her crate - when we're at training or hockey, I cover up the crate so she can't see out, usually with a sheet or spare jumper. If she's quiet, I put treats in, and let her have a view.

  10. #10
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    If your not sure what he is barking at during the day why not decide to "go out" on the weekend at some point then sneak back and see if you can 1. see what his barking is actually like and 2. see if there are any clear triggers. Armed with this knowledge it could be easier to work out a way to go about handling the situation.

    Do you have a shed or garage that you could perhaps put him in during the day so his barking doesn't annoy the neighbours??
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semihuman. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog." - Edward Hoagland

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