Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Barking Matter

Champ is a really good puppy -- listens pretty well, doesn't chew on things he's not supposed to (well, except for that patio furniture and now the bottom of the wooden back steps...), and is an all-around good dog. However, after being spoiled with two huskies that rarely ever bark, we now own a dog that does bark. Initially, it was only when I'd get home at night or someone would come to the door while Champ was still in his pen. He's also barked in the middle of the night a time or two to let us know he really needed to go potty. Other than that, though, he wasn't that bad. Now he loves to bark at the neighbor's dogs through the fence (although to be honest, those labs have been barking at our huskies since the day we moved in-- the huskies would go over to the fence with interest, but never barked back). Most days I just call him back inside when he won't stop barking at the dogs, so that's not so bad. My biggest issue with Champ's barking right now, though, is his recent habit of waking me up an hour before I need to get up, barking non-stop downstairs until I get up and let him out.

There are a couple of things tied to this issue.

 I understand if he needs to go potty, but regardless of when he gets put in his crate for the night (11:00, midnight, 2:00 in the morning), and even if he's relieved himself right before getting put up, he still barks every morning now at 6:00, and continues to bark until I get up and let him out. I don't understand why he's only started doing this in the last week or two, when before he was fine for another hour (or more even, if he was put up later that night).

Recently (though I'm pretty sure it's been longer than when this new habit of Champ's started), we've started letting our huskies stay out of their crates at night. They don't mess with anything in the house they're not supposed to (...except for one night when my husband left a Yum-Yum sauce bottle out-- who can blame a dog for not resisting the impulse to try to get into that sweet-smelling plastic bottle? All of our dogs are experts at tearing open plastic bottles.), and can hold their bladders till morning. When I get up to let Champ out for a minute, I end up putting all three in their crates for that last hour of sleep, because otherwise Champ will start barking again-- I tested that theory once and now know. So I don't know if the huskies start moving around more around 6 in the morning, or if Champ just naturally wakes up around then and thinks about them not being in their pens and wants out, too, or what. At night when he's put up, it isn't an issue, I guess because he wants to sleep...but during the day it's a different story. We're not ready to start letting Champ stay out at night, because he'd drink all the water left in the house and then ending up doing his business in the house because no one would be downstairs to let him out. We're also not sure that we trust Jake around Champ for hours on end-- they're fine together outside, but sometimes Jake still has an issue with Champ inside the house, for some reason. When Champ's a little older, we may try leaving him in our room at night with a little bed to lay on, so he's separate from the huskies, but still out, but for now, we think he's best in the crate at night.

I'm around three months pregnant now, and need all the sleep I can get. Having to get up and go downstairs for a few minutes, while it may seem like nothing much, wakes me up more than I would really like, and some mornings-- like this morning-- I have a hard time falling right back to sleep afterwards. So I'm losing sleep daily now. My husband rarely hears Champ start barking, but regarldless of how deeply asleep I am, I always hear him, so it falls to me to get up and let him out.

We're considering getting some kind of bark collar to put on him at night. I've never looked into them before now, so I don't really know much about them. I bought a simple "Bark-Off" mechanism a few months back that will emit a high-pitched sound when a dog starts barking, but Champ's barks seems to get louder, possibly more defiant, when that thing goes off, so we stopped trying to use it. I haven't asked the vet or someone at the pet store about it yet, but my husband and I really want a solution. Once our baby is born, the last thing I want is for one of my dogs causing him (yes, we found out already that it's a boy!) to wake up unneccessarily because of incessant barking.

We can't really leave Champ outside at night, because he'd start barking from being left out alone, and our bedroom overlooks the backyard, so we'd hear him perfectly. We don't dare leave the huskies outside overnight, either...Isabella would be sure to find a way to dig out a path to freedom in that amount of time, I'm sure.

Any suggestions for what to do or what to try? I'm really getting tired of literally losing sleep each night over this.

**Soon after this post, we started leaving all three dogs in their crates at night, and Champ no longer wakes me up early. We plan to try Champ in our room at night soon.**

1 comment:

  1. My experience with dogs it's almost zero. So I don't think I'll be able to help you. :/

    But, like you said, Champ is a really good puppy and I'm sure you'll think in something to avoid this problem. I just would say to try to avoid the "bark collar". I don't think that is the best way to teach a dog what he shouldn't do.


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