On Barking

This week I have been struggling more with Daisy’s barking. She has been barking more than usual and it really started getting me down. At first I was thinking I will just ignore it and she will stop. That didn’t seem to work. She mostly barks when on the arm of the sofa, so I thought that if I get her off the arms and don’t let her up, she won’t have the opportunity to bark. So I did that, and she simply ran to the chair and proceeded. So it was back and forth between the chair and the sofa. I live in a flat so I was beginning to get worried about what the neighbours would think.

As I was getting more frustrated, I took a step back and said to myself that Daisy isn’t barking to be naughty or to annoy me. There is a reason that she is barking. I reminded myself that she has beagle in her, and that could account for a lot. I started to look at what was around and what was outside the window that would make her want to bark. What was she telling me?

There have been builders working on a car park on the opposite side of the road, making noises and wearing high vis jackets, talking loudly and so on. Daisy was barking at this I thought. It is a change in circumstance, they are strangers, and she could perceive them as a threat, letting me know that they are there. Also, she barks when other dogs walk past, which has been a problem for a while with reactivity, which I am working on. So if there are workmen and dogs, no wonder that it is over-stimulating Daisy and it is causing her to bark more.

So what can I do about it? Well I think the important thing for me to do it to stay calm and redirect Daisy’s attention, get her focussed on something else such as a treat or a toy. I find that engaging her in short training games gives us both a break. The more that she barks at things outside, the more it will become a habit because it is physically rewarding to bark, especially if the threat goes away. Raising my voice or shouting certainly doesn’t work because she then will think that I am joining in. I have to be realistic and remember that Daisy has an genetic tendency to bark/howl and that I need to embrace it rather than try to stop it all the time. I am hoping that the more I can redirect her focus, the less she will feel the need to bark. I can’t remove the perceived threat or trigger, but I can help her to get a reward from something other than barking.

Daisy’s First Day at Daycare

Today was Daisy’s first day at her new daycare. Unfortunately the one she went to before ended as the woman is branching out into training and 1-2-1 help for behavioural problems. This is great as I think she will be fab, but it meant I had to find a new place for Daisy to go to. With all the warnings about being careful when choosing the right daycare, it took me time for feel confident in my choice. Along with that, I wanted to make sure that where she was going was a place that was friendly and force free.

So today was her first proper day. She got dropped off in the morning and I went to pick her up in the evening. I went in and the dogs awaiting their lifts were in crates. They let Daisy out, and she wagged her bum and her tail, she was so excited to see me. She bombed around the building while I asked how she had been and settled payment. She had played with the small dogs, big dogs and the puppies. She had been a lovely dog and had even settled in the office while people worked away. This I was proud of as Daisy is not one to just lie about, especially when there are other dogs to play with.

I got her home and it was like she’d been away for ages. She helped herself to the throw on the sofa and my clothes. I got her dinner ready and put her in the hall. I put her food in a Kong and leave her on her own for about twenty minutes while she eats and settles down. This was after great advice regarding Daisy’s separation anxiety. Food is a great way to tackle separation anxiety, and even better for a food motivated dog. The idea is that Daisy associates being on her own with getting yummy food, and therefore comes to feel that is a good thing to be on her own for a bit. It has been a long process, but she is a lot better than she used to be!