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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20218
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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We have just taken my sons ex girlfriends dog into our home.

Customer Question

We have just taken my sons ex girlfriends dog into our home. I already have had for almost four years, a cross terrier rescue dog Henry.. Now they are together they have started barking constantly at everything that goes past the house and also ripping up anything that comes through the letter box. My dog Henry did bark occassionally but only when someone came to the door. They are left approx 3/4 hours when I am at work, but are always walked first thing in the morning, and my sister pops in during the lunchtime to walk them round the villasge. The first thing I do when I get in is take them out. I used to be able to leave Henry with a stuffed Kong and this was good for him, but cannot leave anything out now as Max - the new dog - constantly throws about and destroys virtually everything that is left for him. I do try to keep a balance with the dogs, but I am sure his arrival has tremendously upset Henry and now I am not sure how to deal with this.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,
My name isXXXXX professionally worked with animals for over 16 years dealing with both health and behavioral issues. I have over 14,000 satisfied customers. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

I need to ask for some additional information. Once I receive your responses, it will likely take 30-40 minutes to type my response. I hope you can be patient.

Would you be ok with Henry's barking like he did before?
Do you have a fenced yard?
What breed is your new dog?
What sex is the new dog?
Are they both fixed?
Are they similar sized dogs or is one larger than the other?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi there

Yes I do have a fenced garden, and Henry barking as he did before was acceptable as it warned me that there was someone about. Our new dog is a male, same as Henry. Max was not fixed when he arrived, but has been now - I made an appointment at my vets within a short time of him arriving. The new dog is slightly larger than Henry and has a much more forceful attitude but Henry does hold his own with him.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 4 years ago.


Thanks for the additional information, it is helpful. I suspect that when Max came to live with you, he moved into the top dog position because he was not fixed, was larger and more dominant which would negate the fact that Henry already lived in the house. With Max being the boss, Henry would follow Max's lead. I just wanted to give you an idea of why Henry's behavior changed.

Unfortunately, the site does not allow me to make clickable links to supporting websites at this time. So where there is a site listed, you may have to copy that to a separate browser window or tab to access the data there.

The barking we should be able to get under control since it happens when you are there. For this you would need to separate the dogs and work with Max first. There are a few ways you can go about this. I have a dog currently that I got from the pound that did this when we first got him, so I understand you are being driven crazy.

Here is what worked for us. We left his leash on in the house attached to a chain collar. Each time our dog barked inappropriately we gave a quick tug correction to distract him, said "no bark" and had him sit. After a few corrections right in a row, he would finally stop barking for a second. When he didn't bark I'd give him a treat. By the end of a couple of weeks, he had reduced his barking significantly. We did go through a lot of treats.

We did this over the course of a month all together, giving treats for non barking and eventually phasing out the treats and using praise instead with a treat only once in a while. Now he rarely ever barks. You can have someone help you trigger his barking by walking past your house over and over. This will help you train him quicker.

As crazy as this sounds you may wish to teach the pup the speak command and then the quiet command. It seems easier to teach the quiet command after the dog has learned the speak command. The following site explains teaching speak and quiet commands.

You also have the option of getting a bark collar such as citronella spray collar, ultrasonic bark collar, shock bark collars (I personally am against shock collars) and even shaking a can of coins that will stop excessive barking. In most cases, it only takes a few corrections before the dog learns to stop barking when the warning tone sounds. If you decide to go with a shock collar, I urge you to let it shock you first so that you know the intensity of the shock and realize that it is the unexpectedness of the shock that causes the dog to stop and not the intensity. It should stop repeated barking but will allow one or two barks which is appropriate for alert barking.

Once Max is trained to not bark, Henry should follow his lead and go back to his old pattern of barking.

I'm not sure if there is a way of teaching them to leave the mail alone when it comes through the slot since you are not home at the time. There are a couple of solutions though. YOu could put a mail box on the inside of the door that would receive the mail as it came through the letter hole. This shouild be an easy fix. Another alternative would be to place a scat mat in front of the door. If a dog steps on the mat, it gives a mild static shock and the dog learns not to step on it. This will keep the dog from being able to get to the mail to tear it up. You can see scat mats here:

For his tearing up anything you give him, I'd get him his own Kong toy but make it one for a slightly larger dog and put peanut butter or Yogurt in it and freeze it. Give it before you leave. This usually keeps a dog busy for hours. You can do the same for Henry as well.

You might also elect to crate Max. Many dogs are crated for up to 8 hours a day while their owners are gone. Many spend the time napping or playing with toys. The kong works well for this purpose as well. Most dogs spend a large part of the day sleeping anyway when their owners are gone. Crating just gives them a secure place to nap undisturbed. To get them used to crates, you start by feeding them in the crate with the doors open. After a week or so, start shutting the door when they go in to eat but open it when they are done. This gets them used to the crate and associate it with good things and not negative things. I usually give a command when I put the food in so you can use it when there is no food. HOwever, for at leas a few weeks, you will be tossing a treat in when you want them to go in and it is not food time. Another option is to have dog houses in the garden and allow them to stay outside but that may come with a different set of problems.

I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
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