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Em-Barking on a New Life

Little DogHello John.

I have rescued male Shih-Tzu we think is around 7 years old, give or take. He is a delightful easy to care for pet. We currently live in a house with a huge & completely fenced in back yard.

He currently barks as soon as he sees the car come in the driveway, and continues until I get in the door of the house.  I am concerned about this behaviour continuing in the apartment.  I have signed a contract that includes a clause regarding pets disturbing other residents, and if I receive more than 2 complaints or warnings, I will be asked to remove my dog from the apartment. My concern is that while I am at work most of the day, he may hear/know when other apartment doors are closing & start to bark in anticipation, creating a potentially difficult situation.  K.M.

Dear K.M.

Unsupervised access to a window is always a pretty good way to teach a dog to become a barking nuisance. The can’t help it anymore then I can ignore a piece of banana cake with carmel icing. It’s worse with some breeds more then others and the Shih Tzu breed has been wired to be sentinels and are predipsoed to sound the alarm.

Your landlord is of course just trying to protect the other tenants so that they can enjoy their entitlement to peace and quiet. I’d suggest though that you contact your own neighbours, above, beside and below, leave a note if you have to and make it clear that you value and respect them as neighbours and want to know if your dog barks at all. Tell them you are committed to teaching your dog neighbourly relations as he is a very important part of your life. Make it crystal clear that you really do want to know when they hear so much as a peep. They’ll likely cut you a lot more slack then you’ll get if they have to contact the landlord. Bake a banana cake with carmel icing and send each a piece. I think that might work too.

The best way to stop a dog from barking is actually to get the dog to bark so you can provide a timely consequence. For example, I sometimes train other peoples dog in my home so I have things set up to induce barking.  I have buttons to ring my door bell in my office and my kitchen. I can ring the door bell several time when I watch television, when I’m eating etc., They bark and how I respond depends on the temperament of the dog but essentially I get across that only the big dogs are allowed to bark in my house and there’s only one big dog and it’s not them

When time is of the essence and something like a tenancy is at stake or the threat of giving up the dog  is imminent, there are a variety of anti-bark collars all of which insist their way is the ‘humane’ way. It’s more about marketing and profits then humaness. I’m not saying they’re inhumane, just that the fact is that whether they are sending a high pitch sound to ears, an irritant up their nose or a static shock to the skin, if the barking stops it’s because the thing was irritating enough for that dog to think, “Whoa! I don’t want that to happen again.” I’d prefer that people not buy any of them without a trainer’s guidance because I want to make sure that we solve the dog’s problem and not just the owner’s.


-John Wade the Dog Trainer 

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