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Old 14.10.2012, 15:02
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Barking problem....help!

Hi all,

So I found a beautiful apartment in Zurich and absolutely love it. Dogs allowed, and my neighbors below me also have a dog, a very old and quiet one. When I moved in, I went to my neighbors below, above and next to me with my chihuahua and a box of chocolates to introduce myself. All very friendly and I mentioned to them my dog might bark a bit (doorbells...), and all nicely told me they grew up with, and love dogs, so not to worry.

It's been a month since I moved in and today I ran into my neighbor below me and I asked him if my dog is barking...he said yes, quite a lot and told me the noise for them is not too bad, but that for my next door neighbor it is. Feeling terrible, I went to apologize to my next door neighbor, an elegant elderly Swiss lady, and she told me he barks all morning (!!!) after I leave for work, as many people start to leave for work too, and the stairs make a lot of noise. In the afternoon he is quiet, but whenever he hears people opening doors, coming home, leaving home, he barks and won't stop for a long time.... I felt SO bad.

Now, my chi is pretty well trained and I've never had any complaints from neighbors in the past. Problem is... I've moved 4 times in the last 1 year, so it's been a bit of an unstable environment for him till now, but we've finally settled here. Another (the major) problem is, I live in an altbau for the first time, and the stairs in the hallway make LOUD squeaky noises whenever people come up and down. The entrance door is the original (100 yrs old) wooden door with small upper glass panels...meaning, noise goes right through.

My neighbor told me she tried talking to him at the door whenever she came home, hoping he would get used to her voice, but that apparently made it worse as he can't see the person (and doesn't know the person) and would start barking like mad.

Of course she suggested I bring him to work with me, but unfortunately it is not allowed. I can't afford to hire a daily dog sitter and all my friends work so I can't ask them to drop by. She then mentioned she just feels bad for my dog, and my other neighbor who is otherwise friendly, one day told me with a stern voice "your dog is alone FAR too long". Made me feel miserable, because I actually did have 2 dogs in the past with my ex-husband as we didn't want them to be alone all day. Unfortunately things happen in life and he took one and I kept one, and being alone now, I can't just get another dog. Easy for people to "judge" the situation when you try the best you can.

I apologized to my neighbor that I will keep him in my bedroom from now on when I leave for work, which is the far side of the apartment and he won't be able to bark at the door or living room which is adjacent to her living room. I have a big bedroom and ample light from the windows, and this would hopefully reduce his barking (he can't get close to the door/hallway) and the noise will be less for my neighbor....
Problem is, he KNOWS he is not allowed to bark so when I am at home, he is quiet and when he hears people in the hallway, he would growl very very low, and is holding back his bark, and because of this, I can't train him not to bark when I am not there to discipline him..!

Sorry long story, but aside from moving to a new modern building or hiring a daily dog sitter (really can't afford it now), would anyone have any other ideas I could try for this barking problem. I feel really bad for my neighbors, and would of course like them to be able to live peacefully, as for me and my dog...

Thanks...
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Old 14.10.2012, 15:21
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Re: Barking problem....help!

I am sorry for the stress it causes you. I am also sorry because you won't like what I am about to tell you.

But I believe your dog shouldn't be staying alone all day. It is very unfair to him as he needs attention, company and exercise. If you can't bring him to work, can you work from home? At least few hours a day, a week?

If you can't do that, if you can't bring him to work and can't afford a dog sitter, I am afraid your options are quite limited. You should consider to find him a home where someone will have more time to spend with him.

It is a tough decision but at the end, we all want what is best to our pet friends.

Nil
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Old 14.10.2012, 15:31
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Re: Barking problem....help!

I also had a barking problem once, but we finally got it under control once my husband learned to just stuff a ball-gag in me.

Now I just scratch at the door when I need out.
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Old 14.10.2012, 15:58
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Re: Barking problem....help!

Have you tried leaving some music he might like on in the appartment or even the TV works very well as it will draw his attention and he might not think he is alone with nothing to do but bark. Give it a try on a saturday, go out in the hall or downstairs for awhile come up make some noise in the hall so on to test it.
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Old 14.10.2012, 16:01
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Re: Barking problem....help!

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I also had a barking problem once, but we finally got it under control once my husband learned to just stuff a ball-gag in me.

Now I just scratch at the door when I need out.
My friend's wife also had the dogs always barking next door..lol, but doubt if that's the problem here.. ha ha
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Old 14.10.2012, 16:06
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Re: Barking problem....help!

Giving him away is NOT an option. He's 8, and and is very attached to me. He's already lost his "dad" and his "brother" whom he was together with since puppy hood so losing me will not do him any good.

He gets two daily walks, morning and evening, gets loads of attention whenever I am at home, and he is used to being alone. It's already been a few years since he is alone. He is not barking out of loneliness, otherwise he would have done so for all this time already. My neighbors in other places told me he would only bark occasionally at the doorbell, but otherwise that he is a quiet dog. It's the noises that come from living in this altbau that are very unfamiliar to him, that he is reacting to. And to be honest, as it's my first time living in an altbau, I am surprised myself how much noise I can hear from my neighbors too, the walls/floors/ceiling seem to be quite thin.

I am wondering if anyone knows of a good training method I can try, or even a good dog trainer that I might be able to consult.
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Old 14.10.2012, 16:23
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Re: Barking problem....help!

Summergirl, the Belltie and I feel your pain.

The problem with all methods of training not to bark is that you (or someone) MUST be on hand at all times; at the beginning you need to work with your dog each and every time the dog barks.

This is unfortunately one of the most difficult things to train out because there are multiple causes for barking in any given day. You need to fully understand why your dog barks in order to train address the various reasons.

Timing is everything. What you do training-wise before or after you leave the dog will only go so far - someone must be there, on the spot, in order to work on the behavior.

I know you have said that you can't hire a dog sitter, but... is it possible to look at your budget again, figure out what you could do without in order to hire someone to help? Could you afford someone even as a short term solution?

Prioritizing dog care or dog training solutions now will buy you freedom later - perhaps a worthwhile investment?

What about group doggie day care? Sometimes prices for this set up are lower than someone coming to your house.

Or how about finding someone via Rent-a-Rentner?

http://www.rentarentner.ch

This is a site for people who have retired but are looking for a little work on the side. You might be able to find someone whose prices are a little more reasonable.

Bottom line, focus on the short term - can you make some short term changes?

Oops - a leaf blowing in the wind has upset the Belltie. Gotta run, addressing his behavior on the spot is part of our program. Will be back with some training ideas...
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Old 14.10.2012, 16:45
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Re: Barking problem....help!

Hi Meloncollie,

Thank you for that website, will definitely look into it!

Of course I am willing to do a short term investment to correct his behavior but just hiring a dog sitter or bringing him to a group day care for a few months isn't going to do the trick.

I grew up with dogs and I pretty much know their behavior, and have been pretty good with dog training... until this problem I have now. Like you say, I need someone who could train him during the day at my home while I am gone. As I said, he knows very well he is not allowed to bark in the house, so when I am present, he does these low hick up noises when he wants to bark (someone passing by the corridor, stomping noises, squeaky noises etc, but he won't bark.

I even thought of setting up a camera in my apartment, and every time he barks, that this sound goes off that humans can't hear but only dogs (forgot what it's called) and it's supposed to be unpleasant to them. But I am so not a techie, I need to ask friends if this is even possible to do!

I would love to hire a good dog trainer who could spend a few hours every morning to correct his behavior... has anyone used a good trainer here before?
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Old 14.10.2012, 16:48
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Re: Barking problem....help!

got the exact same issue with our chi. we bought one of those spray collars. we had it woprking in the beginning but after a while it would malfunction so we took out the batteries.... he still thinks it works so barks much much less.

I have had threats from calling the police to the spa.....our neighbours suck yet I very much understand that a barking dog can drive one mad......
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Old 14.10.2012, 16:49
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Re: Barking problem....help!

Oh and me coming up and down the stairs to make him used to the noise doesn't seem to help... tried it already, but he somehow seems to know it's me, even when I change my step pattern, shoes, whatever, so he never barks when I get home... even when the time is different.
Dogs just have this sixth sense of knowing it's their owner coming home!
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Old 14.10.2012, 16:50
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Re: Barking problem....help!

Honestly, I have never known of a chihuahua to NOT bark a lot.

And I do know that separation anxiety is a common problem with some breeds. My dad has a Vizla (not sure if I spelled that right) and he can't even be on the phone without it getting jealous.

I think it's nice of you to be considerate of your neighbors rather than just expecting them to put up with the barking.

Hope you can find something to help.
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Old 14.10.2012, 16:54
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Re: Barking problem....help!

Anthony, I heard of electric shock collar which is just cruel, but I didn't know of a spray collar! Can you buy them here as well? Would be worth a try! If they don't sell it here, guess I can order them online?
My neighbors are nice friendly Swiss people, so I would really like to get this sorted out before it really becomes a big problem...

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got the exact same issue with our chi. we bought one of those spray collars. we had it woprking in the beginning but after a while it would malfunction so we took out the batteries.... he still thinks it works so barks much much less.

I have had threats from calling the police to the spa.....our neighbours suck yet I very much understand that a barking dog can drive one mad......
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Old 14.10.2012, 17:01
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Re: Barking problem....help!

Hi Carrie... I know... a lot of small dogs are yappy but my ex and I trained our 2 chi's pretty well (we can't stand yappy dogs, big or small!) and they were not barky dogs at all, and that's why I find it sooo annoying to have this problem now...

I WILL somehow solve the issue!

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Honestly, I have never known of a chihuahua to NOT bark a lot.

And I do know that separation anxiety is a common problem with some breeds. My dad has a Vizla (not sure if I spelled that right) and he can't even be on the phone without it getting jealous.

I think it's nice of you to be considerate of your neighbors rather than just expecting them to put up with the barking.

Hope you can find something to help.
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Old 14.10.2012, 17:13
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Re: Barking problem....help!

I'd be surprised if the spray collar was purchased here in Switzerland, I believe there are regulations against them. (I could be wrong, but am fairly positive...)

As you've said that your neighbors have dogs, perhaps you can arrange with one of them to have your dog in the mornings, since this is the most troubling time? This may be a good solution for you AND for them, if it could work out.
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Old 14.10.2012, 17:15
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Re: Barking problem....help!

Trauma over, Belltie is happy again.

A quick google shows a couple of doggie daycare places offering M-F between 35-45 per day. Is that do-able? Something like this would at least be a short-term stop-gap to buy you time while you work on a long term solution.

Because this kind of training is long term. Sometimes very long term. One needs to prepare one's self - and often one's neighbors - for the long haul. It WILL get better, but it takes time, patience, and commitment.

(In the case of the Belltie, it has also take much of my wine cellar. )

So... training ideas.

First, what you describe sounds like separation anxiety, where a dog is unable to handle being left on his own. IF that is the case - and I say IF because I have not met you or your dog, so I am only making a supposition based on what you have written - what needs addressed is the emotion sparking the behavior. Barking is only the symptom, one needs to treat the root cause.

A very good article on separation anxiety, from the ASPCA's virtual behaviorist library:
http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtua...ration-anxiety

Patricia McConnell has a very good booklet out, 'I'll Be Home Soon':
http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/separation-anxiety

Patricia McConnell often talks about separation anxiety in her blog, for instance:
http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/the...-sa-yes-and-no

And a good article from the Whole Dog Journal:
http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/iss...y_16044-1.html

For a more in-depth look, Nicole Wilde's book 'Don't Leave Me' is very helpful:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Leave-Sepera...0223279&sr=1-1

One comment from your OP sticks out: "Problem is, he KNOWS he is not allowed to bark" To my mind, we need to look at this from the dog's perspective. In the case of separation anxiety, the emotion overrules what the dog knows/has been taught - the dog is so caught up in his distress at being alone that all else goes out the window - at such a time what he knows matters not, he can't think while caught in the emotion. So to work on separation anxiety one needs to address the emotion first and foremost.

The articles above lay out the classic methods for dealing with separation anxiety. Here is where having a stop-gap like a sitter will help, as that person could take over with the build-up training while you are at work. Build up is important - you can't go from leaving a dog for 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes to Bam! 8 hours while you are away. No, it needs slow and gradual building, repeated, repeated, repeated consistently over time.

FYI, the spray collars are also illegal under the TSchV - and in the case of separation anxiety PLEASE do not do this. Think about it - punishing a dog who is afraid will only make him more afraid - often leading to further behavior problems. Issues of legality and ethics aside, one should never ever use such a devise when one is not present - as you have no way to know what link the dog has made between the stimulus, the punishment, and his behavior. A dog might link something completely different to the punishment - and you could be setting yourself up for additional problems. (I won't repeat the story here, but search for my story of Melon, the electric fence, and hats.)

You have to address the emotion, not only the behavior. A spray collar only addresses/suppresses the behavior, and often heightens the emotion.


ETA:

Article 76, TschV:

Die Verwendung von Geräten, die elektrisieren, für den Hund sehr unangenehme akustische Signale aussenden oder mittels chemischer Stoffe wirken, ist verboten.

http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/4/455.1.de.pdf page 25

Back soon with part 2...
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Old 14.10.2012, 17:27
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Re: Barking problem....help!

Thanks so much for taking your time and all the info, but it is not separation anxiety.

As I mentioned before, he has been on his own for almost 4 years now and he hasn't had this barking problem. If it was separation anxiety, I would have had this problem long time ago. Also, he is not so much of an attention seeking type of dog, so people who know him also agree that it is not separation anxiety. He's also not a nervous or jealous dogs at all, very easy going and relaxed little thing otherwise.

My neighbor also said he starts barking when someone leaves the house or comes back home (quite noisy in this building, opening and closing doors...) and when someone is stomping down or up the stairs, and NOT the moment I leave.

So he is reacting to all this noise he is not used to, which is understandable. Somehow I need to teach him all these noises are okay, and that he doesn't need to react to them.
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Old 14.10.2012, 17:48
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Re: Barking problem....help!

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Oh and me coming up and down the stairs to make him used to the noise doesn't seem to help... tried it already, but he somehow seems to know it's me, even when I change my step pattern, shoes, whatever, so he never barks when I get home... even when the time is different.
Dogs just have this sixth sense of knowing it's their owner coming home!
I know what you mean

My dog is always asleep on my lap and doesnt mind the noise the neighbours make when they are in the hallway. But as soon as my OH gets out of the lift he runs to the door. Way before he actually gets his key in the lock. Impressive!
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Old 14.10.2012, 18:02
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Re: Barking problem....help!

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I am sorry for the stress it causes you. I am also sorry because you won't like what I am about to tell you.

But I believe your dog shouldn't be staying alone all day. It is very unfair to him as he needs attention, company and exercise. If you can't bring him to work, can you work from home? At least few hours a day, a week?

If you can't do that, if you can't bring him to work and can't afford a dog sitter, I am afraid your options are quite limited. You should consider to find him a home where someone will have more time to spend with him.

It is a tough decision but at the end, we all want what is best to our pet friends.

Nil
What Nil said - and a lot more politely than I would. I have had neighbours like you in the past whose dog howled and barked all the time the house was empty. No fun for the dog. No fun for the neighbours - and as long as the owner can't hear it, they seem happy enough...
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Old 14.10.2012, 18:16
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Re: Barking problem....help!

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What Nil said - and a lot more politely than I would. I have had neighbours like you in the past whose dog howled and barked all the time the house was empty. No fun for the dog. No fun for the neighbours - and as long as the owner can't hear it, they seem happy enough...
We have a neighbour's dog who spends most of his days outside on the terrace. Here, down south, we don't have the same protections for animal and it hurts me to hear the poor boy crying all day long. It is not a bark but a long and sad complain.

If I was in Switzerland, I would have reported the owners long time ago.
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Old 14.10.2012, 18:32
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Re: Barking problem....help!

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If I was in Switzerland, I would have reported the owners long time ago.
Summergirl, in my opinion this is what you must worry about. Your dog is left alone all day, and this is a no-no. One of your neighbours could report you. Just because I own dogs does not mean I want to listen to someone else's dog barking.

I am not a dog psychologist but I think your dog is lonely. Splitting up the dogs, as you and your ex have done, makes no sense to me. Dogs are not property to be divided. It would have been in the dog's interest to share ownership of the two dogs.

What does your ex do with the other dog all day? Is he left alone and barking as well?
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