Sunday, May 2, 2010

Listen To The Dog

If dogs are able to communicate through barking in a meaningful way, not just intruder alert and I am so bored; how should we respond?  
If I am yelling at the top of my lungs, "I am scared, somebody help me." and I get a face full of citronella; I 'll probably just get more upset even if I shut up. That's a devil of a predicament; isn't it? We are so very glad that we never did that here to quiet dogs.
 The joyeous barking of the dogs when we turn them out to run has a different tonal quality. It makes me smile. People sometimes stop to watch the dogs run. Dogs barking in the kennel is a problem for me. The stress in their voices shreds my nerves.
When people other than staff come into the kennel, the dogs bark. That's normal and acceptable; scared lonely dog barking is not. So what do we do about it in a kennel situation?
What seems to work best is simply visiting with the dog when it first arrives. Often I've gone to visit with these stressed dogs. By spending a few minutes with them at the beginning of their stay we calm them. This sets them up to look around, to start to interact with our staff and the other dogs.

For a large percentage of barkers this is the answer. Our house is fifty feet from the kennel, so we are acutely aware of barking.
If a dog is allowed to languish in that sad state, the rest of their stay is impacted.When staff take the time to happy talk a dog through the fear they feel when they are away from the people they love most, they fall in love with being here.
It is surprising how few barkers we have. I thank my staff for the fine job they do making dogs feel at home here.

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