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We have a dog who is quite a barker – any activity outside of our yard is cause for a loud and often sustained volley of barking. It is driving one of our neighbors crazy, so we've been experimenting with various bark control devices. We've got a dog door and the biggest problem is when our dog is out and we're not at home.

So far we've tried:

  • Locking the dog door, effective, but the dog loves to sit out in the yard and watch the world go by. Also, it seems mean to ask him to "hold it" for most of the day when one of us can't get home to let him out in the middle of the day. I think it might also make him more excitable and vocal when he is out.

  • Sitting with him in the yard and giving him lots of treats when people and dogs go by. It might help, it has definitely improved his recall, but it doesn't seem to be making a significant shift in barking.

  • A citronella spray collar - not sure if it works at all. He might either like the smell or he might be ignoring it. He comes in from barking smelling like a lemon…

  • Ultrasonic bird houses that are supposed to create an unpleasant sound when the dog barks, which is in turn supposed to reduce barking. More than anything we've tried, these seem to be having some effect.

So, my question(s):

  • What is the best placement for these devices? They have a speaker on one side. I assume that they are highly directional. Is there anyway to estimate or measure the "dispersion angle" (is that the right term) of the speaker so that I can visualize the area that is covered?

  • How sensitive are ultrasonic signals to interference by foliage?

  • Any other suggestions for effective placement?

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I've found the best way to control barking is to put it on command. Once you can teach your dog to bark on command, you can teach him to stop on command. So that works when you are home. Otherwise, it sounds like a bored dog trying to amuse himself. Unless your dog is very young, old or inferm, holding their bladder while you are at work shouldn't be a problem. (He holds it all night while you sleep, after all).

  • Thanks! Any suggestions for how to teach barking on command? – dlu Mar 22 '17 at 21:53
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    Use a command word ("Speak") and a hand signal that makes sense to you. As you give the verbal and visual, also do something (or have someone else) to incite the barking, (Ring doorbell) then reward. Repeat until you get the barking after the command without inciting it. From there, the ceasing barking part is easy. Again, give a verbal and visual cue ("Quiet") and reward with food as soon as the noise stops for a nanosecond. Look up Dr Ian Dunbar for more training help. He has a lot of publications and videos out there through his company Sirius Dog Training. – Mojo Mar 22 '17 at 22:02
  • I'll start working on that and check out Dunbar as well. Do you know if this would help with bored barking as well? Our dog is definitely looking for excitement and/or interaction. He's especially excited when he sees another dog. – dlu Mar 23 '17 at 13:13
  • If he is mentally stimulated by frequent, short training sessions with you, he won't be so bored. You can also try giving him interactive food dispensing toys, like Kong, to keep him busy. And if he is so so excited by other dogs, he is probably frustration barking. Get him to a dog park to interact with other dogs. – Mojo Mar 23 '17 at 16:31

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