Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Correctional measures

So we're debating a mildly controversial decision here at the Chateau. We were woke up at 5:40 this morning by Boo informing us that the dog in the apartment across the hall was awake and making noise. He did this with an explosion of barking that they surely must have heard half way across Iqaluit. I'm surprised Cathy didn't have to pry me off the ceiling.

Boo refused to settle for the next couple of hours, continuing to bark and trying to squirm away from us so he could go to the door to the apartment and bark some more. Fortunately we both had the morning off because of the blizzard, but there is no guarantee that we won't get a repeat performance tomorrow morning. This has been going on pretty much every morning for a week now. And yes, I appreciate those of you reading this blog who are parents and who get up with small children might not have a lot of sympathy. However, that is one of many reasons why we don't have children right now. We like sleeping. Quite fond of it. And when it gets disrupted, we become unhappy.

Boo has actually been barking a lot more since he came back from St. John's. It's a bad habit he picked up. And regardless of what the other dog does, we have to discourage him from doing it otherwise our neighbours are going to rightly start complaining about us. So far, we're not having much luck. Shaking a can with pennies didn't work. Telling him to be quiet in a forceful, but quiet voice didn't work. Picking him up and asserting our dominance over him hasn't worked. We're running out of ideas.

That's why we're debating getting a correctional collar.

Yes, I know, not exactly a popular decision among many, I suspect. But we're still in the early stages of doing research. As best I can figure there are three types. One that squirts the dog if he barks, sometimes with water, sometimes with a scent that the dog will not like. One emits a frequency only the dog can hear that will annoy him every time he barks. And, of course, one that will give the dog a little shock every time he barks.

If we go down the route, odds are we'll go down with the one that emits the frequency. The scented one strikes me as a bit risky in that we've tried spraying stuff that Boo likes to chew on and it hasn't deterred him, plus Cathy could be allergic to the smell. And the electric shock is a bit to cruel for my liking.

We haven't exhausted the possibility that we can get him to stop barking quite so much and perhaps Boo will stop freaking out every time he hears a noise out in the corridor or from the other dog. If he does, great. If not, well, we'll probably give him another week or so and then seriously look at ordering a collar. He wouldn't wear it all the time, but he would when we're sleeping.

Because really, this whole being awoken at 6 a.m. by a sonic explosion disguised as a small dog is getting really tired, real fast.


Kirsten said...

Dexter has learned to "quiet" after a few barks... EXCEPT when the phone rings, in which case he becomes an uncontrollable barking maniac and one of us basically has to grab him. We've tried... well, everything, with no luck. All sorts of training methods, spray bottles, bribes, punishment, nothing does it.

We borrowed a citronella collar from someone a few months ago and tried that out. It had worked like a miracle on their dog, apparently. And it was amazing after we put it on Dexter - phone rang, dog barked, collar sprayed, and he was so startled he stopped barking and ran to us in confusion and silence. Perfect. Worked like a charm.

A week later, he was completely immune to the collar, and every time our phone rang the apartment magically became lemon-fresh.

Your mileage may vary.

I don't know anything about the frequency collars, but I could never do the shock collars either... diversion is one thing, pain is another.

Anonymous said...

Why anyone who works all day, and lives in a small apartment, would want a dog mystifies me. It's just as cruel to leave a dog all day, on its own, indoors, as it is to use a shock collar.

I wonder what the neighbours think when it's barking all day too because it's left all alone, all day. Some people profess to be dog lovers because they buy toys and let their animals sleep on the bed, yet they leave them alone all day.

You get to go to the toilet whenever you want, don't you? Think about what you're doing to your dog by fastening it up all day in an apartment; first, to your dog and secondly your neighbours. Why get a dog and leave it alone all day beats me. Maybe some other animal lover could enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

The only other suggestion I got is to spray Boo with water. What I’ve been told is that a sharp stream of water to the face/head can help to silence a dog. It isn’t as cruel as the shock collar but I’m sure its not too pleasant. Good luck, and let me know what works though, cause I’ll have to try it on Miso.


Anonymous said...

There are millions of ways to train Boo not to bark, you just have to go through them systematically, giving it about two weeks for each one to either work or fail. Sorry, but that's just it. There is a whole train of thought that says that if you have a "braky" dog, it's because they're not getting enough exercise, but it sounds like you only have problems with Boo waking up in the morning and barking? Obviously, he's well rested and that's when he's going to bark.

Have you tried a muzzle? Sounds bad, but doesn't hurt, can be slipped on if he starts barking, and left on for a little while in the early mornig hours. Works with Sophie, all we have to do is show her the muzzle and she stops, but it doens't work on Ty, his nose is too pushed in, so he can just slip it off no problem. Also, it's hard to find one that fits really small dogs corectly.

We tried the sonic bark collar on our two, and it worked with Ty, but not Sophie. The citronella one did nothing. We're seriously debating the shock collar for sophie, she's getting to be too much, and we don't like leaving the muzzle on her too long.

Good Luck!!


Edward G. Hollett said...

Stay away from the shock collars, Craig.

Aside from the humane issues, just think which neck it might wind up on after the dog is sorted out.

Your next jolt from a sound sleep might be designed to fix your snoring. (j/k)

Terri Lynn said...

We used the water bottle technique on Barkley and it moderately worked. He still barks quite a bit (we named him so well, as everyone points out), but if he is jumping on people, or misbehaving we only have to show him the bottle and he just quits it. I'd say we haven't had to spray him in years.
The shock collars have always given me the willies. I think about the thing malfunctioning and just constantly nuking the dog. Though the frequency one sounds as though it would get the point across well without so much pain.
Good luck. The terrors of dog training is what keeps me from buying a puppy. If only I could just give it to your dad for a few weeks a let him do all the hard work...

nin said...

Go with the collar... but you need to use it first... here's a primmer, Craig

towniebastard said...

Folks, I said there was no chance we would use a electric shock collar, but thanks Ed and Nin for further illustrating what a bad idea that would be.

Let's see, we've tried squirt bottles. He basically enjoys the water, so that's fairly ineffective.

Cathy's dad has suggested a few things, so we're going to try them next. If it's still not working, then we'll review things again in the next couple of weeks and take another look at the ultra-sonic collar.

Anonymous said...

Does he get outside at all? If you can get him out for even short walks, it should help (it sounds like the pup is suffering a wee nip of anxiety, is all).

towniebastard said...

He gets walks every day, weather permitting. We've actually been a bit surprised at the temperatures he can handle. Yes, he wears his coat and boots, but we were still reluctant. However, he now routinely goes out for 20-30 minute walks in temperatues around -30 or so. But on days when it gets colder than -40, then he just has to be a bit stir crazy. It's easy to get frost-nipped at that temperature when wearing lots of layers.

Oh, and while I wasn't going to respond to the person who questioned if we should have a dog, I will say this - he never has to worry about using the bathroom during the day. We have a box set up for him with a plastic liner, baking powder and lots of newspapers. And he's completely paper trained. So there are no worries there.