I have a deaf 6 year old staffy x ridgeback called Malika I need some advice with. She's a beautiful girl that has always had a bit of nervous/playful energy. She loves people company but is an outdoor dog which normally always had the companion of 2 other dogs (a rottie (jess) & a retriever (Kirra)). She was alway fine as an outdoor dog, she depended heavily on the rottie. She has always been a handful to walk and to walk all three dog needed three people to do the job so the lot of them hardly ever got walked. But I live on a large 1/4 acre block so have plenty of backyard space to run. She moved around a lot as a pup, and it took about 2 years to really see her feel relaxed enough and settled with us as her family. She is more relaxed chewing her bone if I'm sitting there watching over her. She is an observant dog (when she wants to be) and cunning. She love people and loves hanging out in my veg garden with me.
About 2 months ago, Jess needed ACL sugery and is in rehabiliation at the moment. She had been showing signs of wear on her leg, but the big snapped happened when Malika sat on her in bed as she does to keep body contact. So Jess has been locked up in my room (which is outside in the garage) or in a cage in the yard. She'll be staying like that for a few more weeks until I put fencing up the yard to allow her more freedom but both dogs will not be back together for another few months.
My issue is since Jess has been in confinement, Kirra passed away and Malika is on her own the backyard. I have been spending more time with Jess of late to walk and toilet to do her rehabilitation. Malika had always had nuisance barking in the evening after food as dusk but more so now she's on her own. She'll bark at shadows, tree movement, cats, bird, vibrations from the garbage trucks and buses that she can't see. I'm so frustrated with her and I know the problem is back on me. I've tried to let her to sit/drop in the house to have people company but shes unsettled and more comfortable outside, I've tried to calm her but I have trouble maintaining eye contact to get her to stop and look at me. I start off calm and elevate to being so cross at her I get rough and have smacked her a few times in the past - last night was one. I feel so bad because it's not her fault but I don't know what to do to calm her down.
Once I'm outside she's happier, but I don't want to add to a bad behaviour and have her feel like a punishment is her only way to get my attention. I don't want meds because I know it's a behavioural thing that I need to change with the both of us and I want to improve our relationship. I'm looking forward to daylight savings so i can spend more time outside with her after work to play ball rather than just spending every last scrap of afternoon light with jess on her walk.
Should I see my vet about a pet behaviour specialist to assess us or are they a big waste of hundreds of dollars?
Any advice would be appreciated.
Thanks in advance.