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Ask the experts

Change dog's emotional connection and behavior will change


It happens all the time. A person is facing being evicted from their apartment because of their barking dog. Out of desperation or the advice a friend they begin using a bark collar. A bark collar is an electronic collar that gives the dog an electric shock when it senses the bark. Often the dog does stop barking, but begins to destroy everything in the apartment.

Many dogs that bark excessively when left alone suffer from separation anxiety. They have a panic attack when left alone. Now the dog is home alone and gets periodic shocks. He is already stressed and this will increase his anxiety. If the dog does stop barking he will likely redirect his anxiety to something other than barking, like chewing. Some dogs will begin to bark even more because they do not associate the shock with the barking, but with being alone. Separation anxiety gets worse when punishment is used.

Punishment based training should never be used when fear and anxiety are the root cause of the problem. Work on changing your dog's attitude about what he gets nervous about and his behavior will change.

For separation anxiety begin desensitizing the dog to your departure. Notice the things that you do when getting ready to leave that your dog reacts to. People have a set routine when getting ready for the day. Mixing up the routine can lessen the dog's anxiety when they do leave. Put on your shoes and coat and then sit down. Pick up the keys and put them back on the counter. He then learns that these things do not necessarily predict you leaving and he will begin to relax when these things occur. Give him something really good when you leave. A small dog treat will not do. That is gone before you are out the door. A hollow bone or toy will work best. Fill it with really great food. Cheese, Hot Dogs, Liver Bits and more, the more variety the better, and make it different every day. Get the Anxiety Wrap® and request the free of charge treatment program at

If your dog growls at people, don't punish him for it. It is most likely a fear reaction that the dog has toward people that he is unfamiliar with. Change the dog's emotional connection to people and his behavior will change. When he sees new people he gets hot dog and chicken. Over time, he will look forward to interacting with new people and the growling will stop. This often needs to be done very slowly in a variety of situations before your dog's fear level is reduced enough for him to be comfortable with new people.

If you concentrate only on the dog's behavior, whether it be growling, barking or destructive behavior, and do not consider why is he doing it, it will be much more difficult, if not impossible, to change your dog's behavior. If you change the dog's emotional connection, the change in behavior will take place more easily.

Tip of the week: Before using any training device on your dog, consult a trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques to find out whether this is the best way to work with your dog. Bark questions to: Canine Companion, 11652 North - 825 West, Huntington, IN 46750 or email

Canine Companion conducts dog training classes in Fort Wayne, Huntington and surrounding communities and behavior consulting nationwide. Along with their combined 30 years experience and endorsement by national organizations, the lead trainers are graduates of Purdue University's DOGS! Program and have earned the title of Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.