|Barked: Thu Sep 8, '11 6:05pm PST |
|Apollo came to us at 10 months old, abused/neglected, underweight, and generally unsure of himself and his surroundings. For nearly a year, I was able to work with him regarding some of his socialization issues, training him with certain commands, and (mostly) getting him to where he needed to be. He's always been afraid of people -- still is -- but never shows aggression and usually only pees all over himself in submission.
I started working this last January and he started doggie daycare for dogs under 35 pounds, which has been a blessing for him (and a curse for my wallet! but totally worth it). He is still afraid of new people, but unless he has someone hovering immediately over him, he's stopped wetting himself and has become more curious about the person and less fearful.
Here's what my problem is -- he has NEVER been a barker. I think in the first year we spent together, I maybe heard him bark in one instance and it was because I had crated him for about 15 minutes and he did not like that, despite making great progress with crate training. His idea of warning and protecting me against strangers is woofing. Little pathetic woofs. We call it "venting atmosphere" because they're just short puffs of breath through the nose. But when he's at day care, oh boy, does he let those little lungs of his be heard. He's a little guy, but he sounds like a big guy. This is starting to become a problem, to the point that he might get booted from day care because there's no stopping the barking. The gal who watches him is pretty sure it's a combination of anxiety, excitement, and protection (of her -- they're best pals), but it's on the brink of costing her potential clients and getting the cops called on her set up by the neighbors who're complaining about his excessive barking.
She used to put a vibrating collar on him that he had a deep respect for. When it went on, he'd shut up. But one of the other dogs ate the nylon part of the collar, so I had to provide my own. Which was fine, since it proved to be working before. Only now, it's not working. He barks through the vibrating and moves right along to the point that he's scaring clients. Again, he is NEVER aggressive. But his barks are so chest-rattling, it's alarming and very much a nuisance.
So now, I need to find a fix, fast. I'm interested in medicating him, but not particularly in a pumping him full of prescription drugs to make him into a slug way. I've tried Rescue Remedy to alleviate possible anxieties, but that never helped. I've fed him steeped chamomile tea with his kibble and that made a wee bit of difference at home, but he wasn't having barking issues at the time at day care. Are there other things out there that have a pretty high success rate, maybe something that can be bought OTC at health food stores (tinctures, pills, teas, etc) or similar places?
I know I could "fix" the issue if he was a barker at home with me. But because he's the exact opposite at day care than he is at home, I can't even begin to shape or reward the silence. And due to the fact that the day care lady has her hands full with up to 10 other dogs at a time, she can't always be one-on-one with him, especially considering when he's the noisiest, she's with other clients.
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