I was outside to cook steaks on the bbq, which for most people, is a pleasurable experience. Not at our house. As soon as I opened the sliding door and went outside the neighbour’s dog started to bark and he continued to bark the entire time I was out there. This is a common occurrence. It doesn’t matter if we go out the front or the back that dog is barking. It does not matter if the people are home or not he barks constantly.
Dogs are social creatures and need to be part of the family. If they are not or if they are isolated for long periods of time they develop undesirable behaviours. In the case of the dog next door he is left outside while the rest of the family is inside. Separation anxiety is another problem dogs can develop. The real issue going on in the house beside us is the fact that no one can control that dog. There is no ‘alpha’ so he is on constant patrol with the intention of keeping his family safe even if they don’t see him in the same way.
People get dogs for many reasons. In the case of our neighbours it seems that their reason was to get a guard dog. They fail to understand that dogs need far more than food, water and a little attention. This is why no one should get a dog without fully understanding the commitment.
Dogs need a stable home. They need to have a place in the family and they need to know their place. Like any person or child a dog needs boundaries and rules. In our house all the dogs are a part of the family. We are the alphas and they all know it. Our dogs are pretty spoiled but there are some rules. The number one rule is no aggression. They all know that any aggression will get them yelled at pretty quickly. We have scared more than one house guest by the synchronized yelling of the alphas of the house. Action is quick and swift and if the yelling doesn’t work to stop it the instigators will be isolated until they calm down. Right now there is not much aggression in our house.
The other major rule at Chez Shihtzustaff is no barking. Our dogs have never been allowed to bark outside. We do this for a couple of reasons. We have always been over the limit in whichever municipality we live in so we try to make sure that we don’t piss off the neighbours. Plus we know what it is like to listen to a dog barking ad nauseum. All of the dogs know that if they bark they will be brought in.
The only other real ‘rule’ is that those who can be toilet-trained are expected to do their business outside. We work really hard to toilet train everyone using positive reinforcement. If we catch them in the act so to speak they are put outside otherwise we just clean it up.
The other thing we try to do, especially with puppies and rescued dogs, is to set them up for success. For anxious dogs this means crating them when they are alone so they feel safe and contained. We put them out to pee a lot and celebrate every success with a treat and a party.
I really hope that things get better for the dog next door. I wish that people understood dogs as very sensitive beings who desperately need to be part of the family or the pack. Perhaps we should force people to get a license before they can have a dog.