Well, Lucy, my mini pinscher mix, is an ardent, avid barker. I've been struggling with this for months. I wouldn't mind if she just barked--but does she have to bark like a maniac?
She barks at squirrels, birds, people, cars--anything that moves. And she really gets crazy once she gets going. My neighbors give me wide berth when they see me coming. No socializing for us when I'm out walking the dog. And if we go to the dog park, I have to keep the leash on her. Unless it's 7 a.m. when no one's around.
For a while I tried rattling coins in a can near her head when she set off on a barking spree--and for a while that seemed to subdue her. But then she became immune and ignored the noise of the can. I long to swat her with a newspaper, but everyone has advised me against this.
I rejected the idea of a collar that shocked the dog--but when I saw a no-bark collar that only vibrated I talked to the petstore owner about it. She recommended it. I was desperate. I decided to try it.
It's made by a company called Pettags--sells for $30. Worth a try, I thought. It had a high or low setting--high pitched sound or vibrating options. Battery operated.
The first day it didn't seem to work at all. She just barked her head off as usual. The second day was different--she was subdued. A friend of mine was babysitting for her that second afternoon. He reported she didn't bark at all. Amazing, I thought. Thren he added that when my nephew stopped by to walk her, she cowered in a corner. She was frightened. Usually a very feisty little person, Lucy must have been terrified when not armed with her bark. I felt very bad about that.
Later that evening I noticed her clearing her throat a lot and coughing every once in a while. Her throat was evidently bothering her. Also that evening she seemed depressed. She would not sit in my lap at all, but withdrew to a pillow in the corner. Lucy--the eternasl lap dog-- would not lap. In short, she seemed depressed.
At first I thought to take the collar off. Then I realized I could just turn the device off--and so that is what I did. So she is still wearing it, but it is turned off. Once in a while I turn it on, but it doesn 't seem to restrain her. Like the rattling cans, she has either become immune--or it is only effective when it gives the dog a sore throat.
A few weeks ago, I had a dog trainer stop by--and he seemed to approve of the collar. He said his company would do the same thing as the collar and charged 10 times more. Also, he thought Lucy seemed too fragile for his program. Interesting--and very honest of him. I'd give BarkBusters a recommendation any time in terms of their honesty.
So we will struggle on. She is the sweetest, most loveable dog. Not very trainable so far--but hey, barking isn't the worst thing a dog can do. We all have our flaws.