Im new here, trying to get ideas on what we can do to stop our 1 year old Maltese x Shih Tzu to stop barking. He has just turned one over the weekend, but the last 2-3 weeks his barking has stepped up a notch and we are getting around 4 hours sleep each night as he is waking us up between 3-4 every morning and wont stop growling, grunting, barking, and this morning, howling!
He gets played with every day, goes for walks a few times a week, when we dont have time we just make sure we play fetch for a longer time, we took him to the beach on the weekend too. He has plenty of toys and plays with them all, has chew bones etc too.
6 months ago was when it all started, so we started telling him off for barking, after 3 weeks or so this hadn't made any difference to him, he just didn't seem to get it, so we got him a barking collar and started it on a really low level and over a couple of weeks he hadn't learned and out of 100 the level was set to about 60 and he still hadn't got it. The collar broke, so we got an automatic one this time, the collar picks its level but this didn't stop him, so we regrettably set it to the highest level, he still barks over the top of this sometimes, gets zapped and carries on! He has learned though to be quieter in his barking so the collar doesn't detect him, smart dog you would think. When the sun goes down he isn't too bad, hes pretty good, he sleeps outside as he has always preferred it to inside, and waking up early makes it easier when hes outside. About once or twice a week we might get a night where we can sleep normally through the night, (these nights do not coincide with days we play with him more etc), the rest of the nights he wakes up 3-4am and starts growling and grunting under his breath, with the odd few bigger barks in between. Some nights he also carrys on like this at 1-2am as well, and again later on. When he barks the neighbours dog does too sometimes, this sets off every dog in the area!
We have made it clear that we don't want him barking, as we are in a close neighbourhood, and even his slight barking can be heard, especially since he is outside our bedroom we can hear him even more. We have told him to be quiet, consistently every time we hear him bark, tied him up, smacked him (really hard sometimes too, well not that hard, but he doesnt even budge), having his collar on, vinegar spray in the face, ignoring him, newspaper, and wasabi, all for a long enough period to try and get him to stop, but nothing seems to be stopping him.
After this morning my fiance has basically said that if he barks again tomorrow hes gone as we need he works on machines and cant be running on such a lack of sleep, we have both had 3-4 hours for the last 4 nights.
2 days ago, Jimmys collar stopped working so it is being fixed, he has his old one on but hes clicked its not working.
This morning I had to drop fiance at the airport and the dog was howling when we left, we had tried to tell him off over and over, but had to go as running late. Half an hour later when I got back he was still howling! This was at 5am in a close neighbourhood.
I have an appointment booked for tonight with a trainer for a consult, and he might be able to stay with her for a week and basically be handed back trained and then we just keep up with what he did.
Im just not sure what else we can do, we are going insane here, After smacking him this morning to try and get him to stop I was crying, I am just at my wits end, lack of sleep and hate that the only way to stop him barking for a couple of minutes is by smacking him.
Hes a very loved dog but we just want him to stop carrying on like this.
Besides spending $300 to hopefully have him trained by a professional, and work out, what else is there?