Obe­di­ence train­ing can help with ex­ces­sive bark­ing

Hartford Courant (Sunday) - - Smarter Living - By Cathy M. Rosen­thal

Dear Cathy: We have a 10-year-old pit bull who is an ex­ces­sive barker. Peo­ple do not visit be­cause the dog never stops bark­ing. The dog is fine with my wife, but if I come into the room where my wife is, the dog barks her head off. We tried giv­ing her com­mands, but it takes a while be­fore she obeys. Are there any de­vices that can aid in train­ing her? She’s been this way all her life, but it seems to have got­ten worse.

— Emilio, Brookhaven, N.Y.

Dear Emilio: Even though your dog has barked all her life, she should be ex­am­ined by a vet­eri­nar­ian since changes in be­hav­ior may in­di­cate a health prob­lem. As­sum­ing you’ve al­ready gone to the vet­eri­nar­ian and she has a clean bill of health, here are a few things you can do to re­duce her bark­ing.

Dogs (and peo­ple) have trou­ble do­ing two things at once, so use obe­di­ence train­ing to get her to stop bark­ing. Train her to “sit” or “come,” so that when she starts bark­ing, you can call her to you and ask her to “sit.” Only give her the treat af­ter she sits, so she doesn’t as­so­ci­ate the treat with bark­ing. If your com­mands don’t in­ter­rupt her bark­ing, then shake a can of coins or use a Pet Cor­rec­tor (com­pressed air), avail­able at pet stores and on­line, to in­ter­rupt the bark­ing be­fore giv­ing your com­mands.

No mat­ter what, al­ways ask her to “sit.” Sitting helps to re­set a dog’s mind and be­hav­ior and helps them fo­cus on what you want them to do next. Once she is sitting, give her a treat. Then give her a toy to play with, like a stuffed an­i­mal or a Kong or puz­zle toy filled with treats, so her mind gets busy do­ing some­thing else. Busy minds don’t bark. You also can train her to re­trieve a ball, since a few min­utes of fetch can dis­tract and set­tle her too.

There are ul­tra­sonic dog bark­ing de­vices on the mar­ket for the home or dog col­lar, which work as in­ter­rupters too. When a dog barks, these de­vices make a sound only a dog can hear that is in­tended to in­ter­rupt the dog’s bark­ing. How­ever, when the de­vice is re­moved from the home or the dog (only use one de­vice at a time), dogs will some­times re­vert to old be­hav­iors. So, only use the de­vice tem­po­rar­ily while you are obe­di­ence train­ing your dog. That’s the only way to en­sure that the new non-bark­ing be­hav­ior sticks.

Dear Cathy: Our 10-yearold res­cue, Buddy, a poo­dle bi­chon, re­cently be­gan to lick both fore an­kles, just above the paws. He has licked his white fur, turn­ing it into an ugly, an­gry pink, and the skin looks raw. We have checked him for par­a­sites and found noth­ing. He has been to the groomer and bathed, but it per­sists. I am won­der­ing if it is from bore­dom or anx­i­ety or if he has doggy eczema. I have loosely wrapped the ar­eas to dis­suade his lick­ing. Do you have any ideas as to the cause or cure?

— Carol,

Las Ve­gas

Dear Carol: Dogs lick for many rea­sons, and you are right that anx­i­ety and bore­dom can be the cul­prit, so in­tro­duce more toys and daily walks into his sched­ule.

Also, take Buddy to the vet­eri­nar­ian for a skin exam. Once a dog’s skin is “an­gry pink” and “raw,” there is a chance for a sec­ondary in­fec­tion in ad­di­tion to the itchy dis­com­fort. Your vet can pre­scribe oral med­i­ca­tions and a skin top­i­cal to make Buddy feel bet­ter.

Af­ter the skin heals, you can spray Bit­ter Ap­ple (avail­able at pet stores and on­line) on the area that your dog keeps lick­ing as a pre­ven­ta­tive. Your vet may also rec­om­mend a change in diet since food al­ler­gies can cause itchy skin too. There are a lot of re­duced- in­gre­di­ent dog foods for dogs with food al­ler­gies avail­able at ma­jor pet stores. In­tro­duce new foods slowly to avoid stom­ach up­set.

Dear Cathy: You men­tioned the dan­gers of us­ing Te­flon pans with a bird in the home. An­other thing to keep in mind, if you have a bird, is that self-clean­ing ovens emit fumes the same as Te­flon pans, and birds should be re­moved from the area. — Cyn­thia, Long Is­land, N.Y.

Dear Cyn­thia: Thanks for the ad­di­tional tip. Here’s one more: Birds also are very sus­cep­ti­ble to paint fumes, so look for no to low-VOC (volatile or­ganic com­pounds) paints when paint­ing the home to re­duce their ex­po­sure to dan­ger­ous fumes. Cathy M. Rosen­thal is an an­i­mal ad­vo­cate, au­thor, colum­nist and pet ex­pert. Send your ques­tions, sto­ries and tips to cathy@pet­pun­dit.com. In­clude your name, city and state. You can fol­low her @cathym­rosen­thal.


Be strict with obe­di­ence train­ing if you have a dog who ex­ces­sively barks.

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