How to quiet a barking dog so we can have company?
October 26, 2007 6:26 PM   Subscribe

We are having a party tomorrow and our 10 month old puppy barks incessantly when we have one person visit, let alone 10. Any ideas on how we can quiet him without tranquillizers or locking him in the bedroom (can't do as we live in a condo and don't want to disturb the neighbors.) We have a "clicker" when he blithely ignores and its too late for obedience training. I need a quick fix! Thanks very much!
posted by Tullyogallaghan to Pets & Animals (20 answers total)
Board him overnight at a kennel, it's surprisingly inexpensive.
posted by jamaro at 6:28 PM on October 26, 2007

posted by cmiller at 6:32 PM on October 26, 2007

Ask a dog-friendly friend or relative to puppy-sit for the evening, then get the pup enrolled in a training class. And start training soon; if you keep putting it off, you'll end up in the same situation again and again, and then all of a sudden you'll have a grownup non-obedience-trained dog, which can be a nightmare. And if your puppy is a barker, chances are pretty good you've already disturbed the neighbors, so the sooner you get him into training, the better. Of course training won't eliminate all barking (and that shouldn't be your goal), but it can help lessen it.

Re: the clicker - has the puppy had clicker training? I don't think those just work on their own. You have to teach the dog what you expect from him when you use it, which is something you can address in training class.
posted by boomchicka at 6:40 PM on October 26, 2007

A muzzle? He might still be able to whine, but I don't know how much barking he could do...
posted by doubtful_guest at 6:43 PM on October 26, 2007

(or use the party as a training oppiortunity and go all dog whisperer on him....)
posted by doubtful_guest at 6:44 PM on October 26, 2007

I hate to go into a tangent, but it doesn't seem like you're using the clicker for the right reason. It's a reinforcement tool, not a punishment or innate signal. As above I'd get to a training class ASAP after the party.
posted by kcm at 7:01 PM on October 26, 2007

I work in a health food store and had a lot of customers & coworkers recommend Bach's Rescue Remedy. You can pick it up for around 10 bucks at a good health food store. It'll be with the vitamins. You'll want the tincture (that is, the liquid in the little dropper bottle) because you will be diluting it for your pet.

You can put a few drops in your pup's water bowl or mix 4 or 5 drops in an ounce of water, then use the dropper to give it to your pup.

Everyone who has tried it swears by it.
posted by aristan at 7:02 PM on October 26, 2007

Get a big, chewy bone or two. That will keep him quiet and happy during the party and he'll also associate having people over with not only fun and petting but delicious chewbones. It's good for puppies to be around a lot of people; it's socialization and they need it.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:03 PM on October 26, 2007

A long walk, and a couple hours of chasing a ball, hard, in the hours immediately pre-party, ought to tucker the dog out considerably. Tired doggies are sleepy doggies.
posted by paulsc at 7:13 PM on October 26, 2007

What mygoth said. Buy three very large bones with some but not much meat and very little fat on them but with the smell of meat all over them. FREEZE THEM first - this is an important step - it slows their activity right down.

Put him in his own room and let him go nuts on one. If he starts barking again, put in another bone. Ok it's not something you want him to grow expectations about but I assume you aren't partying every night.

For a little more comfort, put a radio in his room with a (calm) talk show on - something from NPR or the like.
posted by zaebiz at 7:20 PM on October 26, 2007

If you haven't been to an obedience class, stop clickering immediately! It will be very difficult to use it for positive reinforcement during training. Clickers act as a proxy for a food reward, they are not to be used to tell the dog to do anything (except expect a treat shortly).

I think paulsc has the best idea. Go for a long walk, play for awhile. After he wakes up in the morning, do not let him go to sleep again. When the guests come over, he may bark for a moment, but he'll get tired and pass out somewhere.

I'd consider this an opportunity rather than a problem. You could ask for your guests help. When the dog is barking in front of them ask them to turn away, not make eye contact, and pretty much not acknowledge his existence. When he calms down, they can praise him and play with him. This will go a LONG way to properly socializing him with crowds.
posted by AaRdVarK at 7:22 PM on October 26, 2007

A little yellow antihistamine disguised in something tasty does wonders. It's not tecccchnically a tranquilizer. It just helps him gain some perspective.
posted by kookoobirdz at 7:41 PM on October 26, 2007

Under these circumstances, board him overnight. You can plan parties specifically for dog training and invite cooperative friends for that, but unsuspecting guests may be made uncomfortable by either the problem or the cure.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:54 PM on October 26, 2007

Please don't waste your money on Rescue Remedy.

Benadryl does make dogs sleepy (as with people) but I'm not sure it would help with a dog who is totally flipping out.

I agree with the suggestions for overnight boarding plus immediate obedience training afterward.
posted by nev at 8:24 PM on October 26, 2007

Regarding the clicker, Gary Wilkes has written up a great deal on using a clicker for positive reinforcement and a rolled up towel for negative reinforcement.

Stop clicking; the dog has no Pavlovian attachment to it. You'll need to establish that later. Read some of Gary's stuff—he trained our dog and reduced him from being a raging psychopath to being a much more manageable dog that can be easily quieted when he goes into his barking fits.
posted by disillusioned at 8:31 PM on October 26, 2007

A clicker isn't a deterrent, it's used as a signal for when he's done something RIGHT.

The problem is you've let the problem go on too long without any correction so he has no idea what's right or wrong, or likely could care less at this point lol.

The best deal is something that scares him...I'd recommend a can filled with pennies/nuts/bolts. When he barks have someone shake it quick and loud behind him but don't let him see it. Even smacking a newspaper nearby and loudly will startle him and break his bark. When he quiets reward him for that.

You COULD try the spray bottle of water and spritz him in the face when he barks. My dog tends to LIKE that and not think of it as a punishment lol and I don't really like doing that anyways. I feel you can train your dog without that method personally.

Important to realize that there is no "short-term" solution besides removing the dog from the area. This is a medium-to-long-term solution in the works that you have to work at and keep with.

Why not try telling him no when he barks, removing him from the room from all the action. Timeout for 10 minutes. If you bring him back and he repeats do the same thing. Dogs will pick up that a certain action gets them booted from the room, and try not to do it. They're not as stupid as some people make them out to be :P
posted by PetiePal at 8:09 AM on October 27, 2007

A muzzle? He might still be able to whine, but I don't know how much barking he could do...

A muzzle should never be used unsupervised. You might be there, but hosting a party means you'll be distracted. So this is positively the wrong thing to do (and a whining dog isn't going to be much better than a barking dog.)
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:15 AM on October 27, 2007

This might be a little late to the table, but a citronella collar might be just what you're looking for. They run around $100. Just be forewarned, some dogs just plain ignore them. I have had good luck on one of my dogs and moderate on the other. But when they work, they work after only a few barks.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:28 AM on October 27, 2007

Your dog sounds undersocialized and undertrained. Scaring him when he barks is exactly the wrong thing to do, since it confirms in his already-overstimulated mind that there is something to worry about/get hysterical about when people come over.

Crate him in another room or board him this time, and get into good, positive training classes which will actually teach you how to use a clicker properly (and please stop using it at all until then), and find a remedial socialization class. A clicker isn't something you just click and magic happens, there is a method to its use as a training aid which must be learned and followed.
posted by biscotti at 8:31 AM on October 27, 2007

Rescue Remedy works okay to keep your dog mellow, but it won't stop him from freaking out in a high-stress situation. We were told to give it to my puppy to keep her calm in her crate after she sprained her leg and couldn't be out running around, and it's not nearly as awesome as we thought it was going to be. The first time we gave it to her she sat down and wouldn't move for about 20 minutes, but after that it had almost no effect. It definitely didn't stop her from spazzing out when other dogs (let alone people) were around.
posted by lilac girl at 11:26 AM on October 27, 2007

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