Uncontrollable Canine Barking

by Susan
(Battle Ground, WA)

Nightly argument with herself

Nightly argument with herself

Reader Question: How To Control Jack Russell's Barking

I have a JRT that according to everyone we meet is "the mellowest JRT I have ever met!” She is VERY well behaved in public in part thanks to your book. I knew I had a job ahead of me when we got her and I didn’t want to ruin a good dog. I am home with her all day and enforce the training daily.

My reason for contacting you is Brandy's barking. She is not an overly nervous pet but this is an anxiety type of bark. She barks at people riding bikes by the house (fenced yard), horses riding by the house and funnily enough her reflection. She does not have a problem with the neighbors dogs or birds or rabbits. I have tried acknowledging the intruder. I have worked on a 'no bark' command. (she knows 'speak'} I close the curtains at night so she cannot see herself in the darkened windows. I encourage her 'talking' and discourage barking.

Am I missing something? I try to stick with each option for a period of time to see if it is taking affect. The main problem is as I am sure you know, when they get locked on something nothing else matters....not even treats. Should I just reconcile myself you a historically mellow JRT with an ear piercing bark? Be thankful that I live in the country?


Susan and Brandy

Vet's Suggestions For Controlling Dog Barking

Hi Susan,

This situation sounds like a perfect opportunity to try an anti-bark spray collar. The goal is two-fold: to startle Brandy into silence so that you can praise her for being quiet and to annoy her to the point that she figures carrying on just isn’t worth it.

These collars are perfectly humane (usually just spraying citronella, though the scentless varieties work also) and do a great job of interrupting and discouraging excessive barking in all but the most determined dogs (which, unfortunately, describes many JRTs). Make sure you take the opportunity to praise Brandy whenever she acts appropriately. Your goal should be to use the combination of the bark collar and praise to teach her wrong from right so eventually you won’t need this crutch anymore.
If this doesn’t work for you, a veterinary behaviorist may be able to help you diagnose the exact cause of Brandy’s barking and develop an effective behavioral modification plan.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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