The Bark-o-holic Apartment Dog. Owner Rehab Tips

ASK INGER/ Barking
Hi Inger,
 3 months ago, we rescued a 2 year old Great Dane who we affectionately named Shortie. (At two years, she’s only 75 pounds, but perfectly healthy and gorgeous. She’s the sweetest, smartest, most amazing dog.) When we first got her, she was afraid to bark. We have been training her every day, including how to “Speak!”
 
She has a beautiful voice and generally does not cause an issue with her barking. Lately, there are certain noises that cause her to bark and howl and become really protective. Examples include the sound of wire hangers, the metal drain plug and bottles of nail polish clinking together. I worry that something related to her unknown past really upsets her, and we’re trying to minimize her stress. Do you have any advice on how to assure her that the noises she hears are safe?
Thanks in advance,
 Lee & Jason
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Hi Lee and Jason,
Shortie doesn’t sound like a bark-o-holic yet. However, you’ve only had her 3 months! Best to nip the behavior in the bud now, so thanks for your question. She sure is gorgeous and fantastic that you rescued her! Here’s the scoop on barking…
To answer your specific question, fist I must say there are many reasons that dogs bark. In your case, it’s not a question of “safe” to bark for a dog it’s more about territory, age and dominance. I think it’s very important for all owners to understand the nature of the bark. It’s a communication thing and often a misunderstanding. A young puppy can bark out of separation anxiety whereas an older pup could have a barking problem due to a boredom issue.
The occasional communication mixed signal with dog and owner can be the same as dating. Men think one way and women another? Who knew that when he said, I like those jeans, she thought, does he thinks her butt looks fat? Get it? So the reason a dog barks may actually come from a completely different place then what the owner is predicting.
In your case, it sounds like a mixed signal. Barking at noises like hangers, nail polish bottle etc. is really just a lack of socialization not necessarily fear. The reaction con also be compounded by giving Shortie too much initial space in her new home, while you are not at home. This can give a new dog a sort edge to protect and well, not relax.
A great training exercise to do is a bit of leash training in the house. Only for 10 minutes or so a few times a week put Shortie on a leash in the house and walk her around. As she barks at simulated noises, redirect her to sit. The leash help create eye contact and allows you to praise her for sitting. This redirection onto a positive command helps emphasize your prominence as her owner and helps her to psychologically relax. In other words, it translates to… your house, your in charge and she can chill.
Lastly, make sure that when your not at home she does not have access to a front window. Often dogs spend hours looking out the front window and learn to bark at every noise and person. When your dog is home alone, no one is there to correct her behavior and it can become a problem. Music is a great barking reducer too. When you leave your dog at home, put music on to trigger your leaving. The mellow sound of love songs or what I call “spa” music will create a mellow environment to sleep until you come home.
Keep us posted on your progress! 

Ask Inger: Puppies Peeing In The House. Help! Owning Two Pups = Double Trouble.

Hi Inger,

I have two 3 month-old Chi-weenie’s they are brothers and have never been separated. To potty train them I went and bought a play pen type gate and a big crate so they can sleep together at night or they cry.

I have set this up in my bathroom with the crate in the center and the metal play pen on the outside so they can’t get out and chew my cabinets but only enough room for pee pad and water when they come out of crate.

During the night they get out and use the pee pads and do not waste in the crate. But during the day the sometimes pee/ poop on the pad but a lot of the time pee/ poop around it or down the hall from it. I shampoo my carpets everyday now and have used the enzyme stuff also but it doesn’t matter.

Please help I don’t know what I am doing wrong. We even give them treats when they use the pads. I even have a pad in the hall slowly moving it in the bathroom, and same thing the use it sometimes but most of the time go around it. Please help I am tired of shampooing carpet everyday , and swear my house smells like pee. Help!

Delanee

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Hi Delanee, Very cute pups. Thanks for the great question! There are couple of things you’re doing right. Keeping the crate within the play pen area and the wee-wee pads on the far end is excellent. When training litter mates, though, there is a natural codependence that develops between the pups and as an owner you want to address that issue by teaching idea of separation, to them, slowly.

Here’s what I recommend:

Get 2 crates, one for each puppy and maybe an additional corral. Put both crates within one corral area for now, with the intention of giving each puppy their own space, in a few weeks. Remember, your pup’s are only 3 months-old, and they don’t have their shots, so wee-wee pads at this stage are the way to go. At the age of 16 weeks, your puppies will be able to hold the urge to go potty all night long and therefore be crated in their own crate with the crate door shut. They will also be able to begin going out doors for walks! So, therefore you need to begin preparing for that time. Otherwise, they will become so reliant on each other, you won’t be able to take one and not the other. They also need to learn to bond with you individually. Begin scheduling their time together and apart. The best way to do that is to create a structure introducing a little independence from one another. This is the key to help housebreak them too.

When you say “down the hall”  it’s sounds like you’re giving them too large an area for too long of a time. Have the second corral as an exercise PLAY pen “area” to be given to them to play for short periods of time. Then give a smaller area in your bathroom for chew bone, nap time and or feeding and sleeping. Perhaps getting the additional corral will make the process easier.

The goal is to begin slowly separating them, but only at certain times of the day. Having 2 corrals and 2 crates will enable you to begin creating separate time, as well as, additional play space! Use this individual space for chew bone time and use music to help reduce crying and trigger calmness. This should be done for one hour after play time.

Think about your day and daily routine and begin to think of their routine, and as to when you should create a separated space for each for a short period of time. Yes, they can see each other. Remember, the separation is only by corral and for short periods of time, to start. For instance, nap time, chewing a bone time, feeding time, all within their new separated space. They can have together time and run around time several times a day, in one large space.

Doing so, will help isolate who is going potty where and when?

The great thing about pup’s are that they operate on a clock. So make it work for you. Stop giving them treats for going potty, not necessary and distracting. If you have a patio or yard you can begin to bring one at a time, on a leash, to a wee-wee pad area there too. This will help establish a pattern of formalizing the potty process, until they get a bit older.

Please share this post and stay tuned for more…

Dog Safety Tips For 4th of July!

Paws For A Minute: 4th of July

Dog Safety Tips

Preparation is key.

- Tire your dog out before the fireworks. Walk, run, fetch or hike will do the trick.

- Access your dogs temperament. Dominant or submissive? Young or old? This will help you make a plan as to whether your dog should be with you to watch the fire works or not.

 

- If your dog is joining your BBQ and firework festivities then best to have your dog on a leash, always!

- Leaving your pup at home? Water, loud music, and in a gated space. Providing your dog with a space within your house will help reduce any anxiety. Music or leaving the t.v on will help mute out any loud sounds of fireworks. Dogs are den animals and they love small spaces. If your dog is used to a crate and feels safe being in one, then crate your dog with music.