Yet on day one of Buffy’s stay, I was about ready to tear my hair out in frustration. What was Buffy doing that was driving me nuts?
Shrill, incessant barking at every noise she heard inside and out. Barking when someone walked down the street. Barking when someone came to the door. Barking when they walked in the door. Barking when a visitor moved. Barking at the dog behind the fence. Barking at something hanging on the line. Barking at stuff I couldn’t see or hear. I swear even Zuri had no idea what Buffy was barking at some of the time.
By the end of the day I had a headache and was screaming silently in my head, “Shut the @#*% up!”
What a terrible dog trainer.
Admittedly, Buffy has a history of barking and practice does make perfect – especially with dog behaviour. Even so, Buffy was barking more than normal. I put this down to being in a new environment and missing her mum to whom she is very attached. She was more sensitive to noises, movement and new objects than usual. Understanding this made coping with it that first day a little more bearable. Just a little.
A combination of devising a plan to teach Buffy an alternative to barking, providing stimulation with treat dispensing toys, other toys, play time and a little time to get used to a new environment quickly decreased the frequency and intensity of barking immensely.
I didn’t intend to give a tutorial on how to stop dogs barking. I wanted to impress that it’s O.K. to get annoyed with your dog. Our dogs are not perfect. They're dogs. We are not perfect. We're human. When annoyance strikes, take a step back, count to ten, breathe deeply or do whatever you need to avoid taking the annoyance out on your dog. Do whatever humanely helps reduce the annoyance (or impact of the annoyance) at the time and revisit the dilemma when you can think clearly. Then problem solving can begin and it can be fun, rather than frustrating.
The day after my melt down; here’s a video account of what Buffy and I (with a little help from Zuri) achieved.
(Email subscribers click here for video link)