When you live with a dog in a city like Boston, odds are you will be living in an apartment or condo and very close to your neighbors. One of the fastest ways to be kicked to the street is to have your dog barking their head off while home alone. It does not matter if you are renting an apartment or own your condo. Both property management companies and condo associations have the power to evict your dog for being a nuisance. You or your dog can be evicted for disrupting your neighbor’s “quiet enjoyment” of their property. The quiet enjoyment covenant is part of all real estate transactions. So, with that said, back to the barking dog.
If you feel overwhelmed with your barking dog situation, enlist the help of a qualified dog trainer or animal behaviorist. If you are literally on the cusp of being evicted there are no-bark e-collars and citronella spray collars which can be incredibly effective. I have added links to some of these products at the end of this article.
Here are some tips which can help before it comes to choosing between your home or your dog:
A Tired Dog Is a Good Dog
This old saying about tired dogs being good dogs should be your mantra, it is a cliche for good reason. But here is the disconnect, most of us take our dogs out for the big play hour at the end of the day, after we get home for work. In the mornings, tight schedules give way to a quick walk at best. Then they go back into the apartment and we rush out the door. Unfortunately, your dog probably just got a great nights sleep, excited as you rushed out the door, but left at home with nothing to do with their energy. Just sit back for a moment and think about it.
Yes, I know mornings are tough, but with a little multi-tasking perhaps you can combine your morning workout with a run or fast walk with your dog. There is even a personal trainer who will teach you how to really combine working out and playing with your dog into the same activity. a tired dog is a good dog, the next tips work better f you can just do that.
Stop Saying Goodbye As You Leave
Really, it’s not rude to skip saying goodbye when you leave. Your coming and going needs to be a non-event, as if you are just going to the corner and back. Your dog does not know if you are gone for five minutes or eight hours. They are aware if you are nervous or excited and when the leader is upset then something must be wrong. It is like a loved one came in said “Honey something is really wrong!” and walked out with out resolving it.
Instead just be cool, walk out as if you are going to the neighbors to put a note under the door and will be right back. Come back in and keep doing what you were doing just a moment ago, as if you never left. That is how you come and go. You can practice, it will help your dog get used to the uneventful coming and going and you will get used to the idea as well.
Start with a tired dog, give them a marrow bone, Kong Chew Toy with treats that pop out when rolled around. While they are doing their thing, simply walk out. Come back a few minutes later and do what you were doing, ignore the dog, even if they are whining, just let them go back to playing with their toys. When they are distracted again, simply leave and come back again with no fanfare. Just keep doing it increasing the time you are gone each time. After a while your coming and going will unimportant to your dog.
Isolate Your Dog From Outside Noises
Generally dogs bark when they here things which go bump in the night. This also happens during the day, but there is no one to say quiet. A neighbor/stranger out side your door yelling at your dog only makes matters worse. Especially when you first move into your new place it is important to isolate your dog from the sounds in the hallway and outside. When looking for a dog friendly apartment, I find myself searching for units where the entrance door is separated from the living area by a hallway. The further the front door is from the living area the less likely your dog will hear or smell things happening outside.
Consider seperating your dog from the front door with a baby gate or keep your dog in one of the bedrooms. If you have a crate trained dog, move the crate to a back room away from the entrance until they are able to have the run of the house.
In our current apartment, the front door had a gap at the bottom where our dog would see the shadows of feet passing by. He started to fall into the habit of laying in the living room so he could see down the hall at the front door. When bored he would lay at the front door listening, sniffing and watching for would be intruders. We resolved that problem with a quick trip to the hardware store and sealing the hallway door. For less than $6, I picked up some weather stripping and a stick on door sweep to seal off the noise and smells of people and other dogs passing by in the hallway.
Drown out outside noises with the inside noises of a TV or radio. Not for the quality programming (actually, our dog loves the discovery channel), but to drown out noises in the hallway. Set the volume at a normal or slightly higher than normal listening level, so you and the dog can’t hear what is happening outside your apartment.
Citronella Spray or Anti-Bark Collars
As I did some digging to write this article, I spoke with a number of dog owners who were at wits-end and about to be kicked out of their home because everything else failed to stop their dog from whining and barking while they were out of the house. In the end, the only thing that worked were devices like a anti barking collar for dogs. There are two types of anti bark collars.
Personally, the anti bark device I would try first is a Citronella Spray Collar which sprays a mist of citronella spray from the collar whenever your dog barks. You can see by the amount of fluid used how much your dog barked while you were away and refill each day until they stop barking. These citronella collars work surprisingly well for most dogs. However, some dogs can be more stubborn or will figure out ways to outsmart the collar.
For a harder headed dog or your last chance before hitting the street there are dog collars that emit a static charge. It is similar to putting a 9 volt battery to your tongue (something young boys do). Here is a link to a very well made SportDOG Rechargeable Bark Collar. The only other no-bark collar that uses static I would consider is the Dogtra No Bark Collar. Personally, I would exhaust other avenues first as I think training and noise isolation is always the best bet. But being evicted due to your dog barking while you are at work is a very serious matter. Using a no-bark collar is much better than being evicted or giving your dog away.
Seek Help From a Dog Trainer
In Boston, where I live, there is a great selection of dog trainers who can help you acclimate your dog to city living. There are classes specifically designed to help acclimate your dog to living in a city like Boston. I also highly recommend the AKC Canine Good Citizen Class, which focuses on teaching both you and your dog good manners. When it comes time to find a new dog friendly apartment or get your dog accepted by a condo association, the AKC Canine Good Citizen Certification is a great tool to ease the concerns of property managers and soon to be neighbors. Here are some resources in Boston to find a good dog trainer:
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