Dusty’s Uncontrollable Barking

Dusty’s barking is getting out of control. Yes, he’s a hound, so he barks. And when he barks, even in the house, the neighbours surely can hear him. He’s THAT loud. When we first met Dusty, as regular readers know (and others can click here to read about), we walked away certain that he wasn’t the dog we wanted. And it was because of that bark. That non-stop, loud, deep, fierce bark.

However, Dusty’s foster mom, Louise, convinced us that Dusty didn’t bark in the house, and when we had our home visit with him, it seemed she was right. Not a peep. And for about six months, Dusty’s occasional bark has been manageable.

Dusty in one of his quieter moments (he's so sweet when he's like this!)

But in the past couple of weeks, Dusty has been barking both more often and more uncontrollably (i.e., once he starts, we can’t get him to stop). He barks at everything—an animal walking across the TV screen, the prospect of going outside, any other dog he sees on our walk, Hogan when Dusty wants to play but Hogan doesn’t want to, any person who is talking to him, and, most annoying, he barks at me for no apparent reason. If I stand up from sitting, he stands in front of me and barks, barks, barks, barks, and he won’t stop. And, of course, once he starts, Hogan gets in on the action. Mayhem! Tonight, Dusty even started barking when I was petting Hogan. Dusty had slept on my lap for more than an hour (he is such a sweet, cuddly dog most of the time), so afterward, I decided I’d give Hogan and Cora some attention. Dusty apparently didn’t like that.

Most of Dusty’s barking is spurred on by excitement. As Kathy at TAGS pointed out to me, quite rightly, it just doesn’t seem right to punish a dog for being happy or excited. But we can’t let it go on as it is, in large part because Wes and I both work from home, and we need a somewhat quiet atmosphere to concentrate in and to conduct business calls and the like.

What to do? I would never use a shock collar, but there are more humane options: citronella collars, vibrating collars, spray bottles, noise makers. Noise makers aren’t an option because they freak out Cora, our fearful dog. Kathy suggested teaching Dusty to take a toy when he starts so that he’ll have something in his mouth. I tried that, but he won’t focus on anything other than the thing that is holding his attention during the barking episode. Anybody out there have any ideas?

2 Responses to Dusty’s Uncontrollable Barking

  • Ashley says:

    Hey Kathy
    I feel your pain, when Mulligan gets really excited and wants to play or if I am eating at the table alone and he wants some he will bark until I pay attention to him or I feed him.
    I refuse to give in to him, because that will only teach him bad habits, and since I need to show him that Im the Alpha Female of the house, we play when I WANT to play.
    That being said I tried everying, would give him his kong, clap, shush him or ask him to stop. Nothing worked because he was getting what he wanted, which was getting me to play with him or giving him a reward. So now what I do is I will walk into the bathroom, shut the door and count to 20 and then leave the bathroom, and walk back and do what I was doing. I do not give him any attention or eye contact and let him entertain himself. Once he has been quiet and settles down for one min ( it wasnt always one min at first it was 30 seconds, then 45, then we worked up to the min) I then praise him for being a good boy and I rub his chest which he loves or I will give him a frozen carrot and put it in his Kong.

    Good Luck!

    • Cathy says:

      Hey, Ashley, great to hear from you again–and thank you so much for the advice. I tried “time-outs” in the bathroom with Dusty (forgot to put that in the post), and it does work. I put him in the bathroom, though, rather than going in myself. He’s good at staying quiet as long as he’s in the bathroom (about 20 to 30 seconds), but then he starts up again once he’s out. What I wasn’t doing, though, was giving Dusty something to put in his mouth once his time-out was over. That’s a great idea! I’m going to try that!

      Wes was in the U.S. yesterday, so he bought a citronella collar there (cheaper). We still haven’t put it on him. We’ll see how things go. Thanks so much for the advice!

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