Dogs are a Blessing; Except When They “Bark” Up the Wrong Tree!
Before you write me off as the crazy dog person I am, let me start by telling you this story isn’t about the unconditional love of a dog and how all dogs go to heaven.
For my daughter’s fifth birthday, I got her a little fox terrier puppy. My little angel was beside herself with joy and wanted to be a part of everything we did for her little companion, whom she named Tinkerbell! Fortunately for us, fox terriers are a very intelligent breed and it almost seemed like she instinctively knew how to be house-trained and well behaved. Of course, we did have the odd chewed-up shoe, but even that stopped when Tinkerbell was about a year old.
One thing that didn’t stop however, and in fact seemed to get more annoying over time, was her tendency to bark. And once she got started, it was very difficult to calm her down again. There were times when I couldn’t even fathom what had gotten her started. After a few complaints from neighbors and my own frustration at the whole barking thing, I decided to seek help.
Some Tips Didn’t Work
Being a DIY person, I decided to read up about nuisance barking and how one could stop it. The Humane Society of the United States said that we should remove the motivation to bark and ignore the barking. What they explained was that the dog was getting some kind of reward for this behavior and to identify the stimuli then set it off. In case, it was another animal near the window or passing by on the street, keep the curtains closed, they said. And I did try all that. They said responding to the barking was a type of reward, since the dog received your attention. So, I tried ignoring her when she barked. The whole effort, which lasted all of one week, was too frustrating for me and didn’t seem to have any effect on Tinkerbell at all.
Next I thought I would follow instructions from “The Dog Whisperer” Cesar himself, since he had such a great track record of success. An article on preventing dogs from barking inappropriately on Cesar’s Way explained that not all barking was inappropriate and, therefore, the aim should not be to completely stop the barking altogether. However, there are times when the dog barks for absolutely no reason and that needs to be controlled. Another factor that led to barking was insecurity. What Cesar suggested to instill more confidence in the dog and to show more confidence as the dog’s alpha did work to some degree, I have to admit.
What Finally Worked
What finally did the trick for us was a combination of things. Apart from trying the various tips that experts and Tinkerbell’s vet, I finally decided to invest in Garmin’s BarkLimiter, a deluxe one at that! I talked to the vet about it too before using it to check if it was recommended. The BarkLimiter is essentially a dog collar, which, according to TheGPSStore.com, from where I purchased the unit, has a Tri-Tronic system to help train against nuisance barking. Also, the fact that it came with a rechargeable battery and was waterproof helped me decide on this one.
The good news is that Tinkerbell is a little angel now. She was always an intelligent little dog, although a little stubborn about her communication! I feel quite proud of myself and my daughter for having worked through the various tips and persisting with Tinkerbell, despite initial failures. Today, we have a peaceful home that is full of love and understanding for each other.