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When Silence was never thought possible

This week I received a telephone call from a dog owner asking for help. Unfortunately, he was Spanish and though I could understand that he had a problem with their barking dog; that was all I understood. I apologised for my lack of Spanish and asked if they had someone who could speak English.

A few days later, I received a call and from her accent, discerned she must be an American. My first thoughts were that maybe I was going to get an all expenses paid trip to the Big Apple. Alas, this was not to be. The woman explained she could translate for me on behalf of the owner who telephoned me previously in the week.

The problem was the family lived in a flat and their dog barked incessantly whenever the doorbell or the telephone rang. It also charged round and round the house and though this had been going on like this for over two years or more, people were now beginning to complain. The question translated to me was could I quieten their dog.

Two days later, I travelled to meet them in Gandia and though it was easy to find MacDonald’s, trying to find the Office of the Guardia Civil was not. After asking for directions, I kept driving round the town and ended up in a cake shop where the owner, once she understood what I was trying to say, showed me where the office was on the street map.

I eventually worked my way back and found the owners patiently waiting for me. After parking my car, they took me to their home.

As soon as they rang the doorbell, the dog started barking. As the door opened, I could see it charging round in circles from room to room and if it were a Hearing Dog, it was doing an excellent job.

Once in and the dog settled, the owner telephoned the house phone and as it rang, again the dog was off barking and charging round in circles. They agreed that initially when they got the dog it was funny but after a while, like most things, it becomes tiresome and they were now receiving a number of complaints.

Certainly, the family telling her to shut up in Spanish was not working as she most probably thought the owners were only barking along with her to encourage her to bark even more.

I explained about the Anti Bark Collars using compressed air scented with the smell of citronella. The gas is quiet harmless. It is only when their dog barks this triggers the release of gas just in front of her muzzle and that would deter her from barking

Through the translator, I had to explain and ask did they want to stop the dog barking all together or only when it suited them. To stop the barking almost completely the dog must not learn the collar is to blame for the release of the gas. Whereas if they wished to be able to switch the dog on and off then the dog must learn the collar produces the gas.

They chose to stop the barking completely so I removed the battery from my demonstration collar and asked them to put it on her for a while so she could walk round the house and become use to wearing it.

After half an hour, I asked for the collar back, inserted the battery, and topped up the gas. After wearing the collar for ten minutes but before, I could arrange for someone to go outside to ring the bell, friends arrived, and the dog barked but then looked so surprised at the gas. The bell rang again and she again barked but was now obviously not keen on gas appearing between her and the door. The bell rang one more time and she did not bark. The owner let their friends in and the dog tried to jump up at them but barked which again released the gas, and so she backed off.

Apparently, the wife was having her birthday party so people were now beginning to turn up quite regularly. There were only a couple of halfhearted attempts to bark but there was no jumping up at people nor running round in circles.

From the interpreter I understood that what had just happened was the main topic of conversation even if I could not understand much of what they were saying. I did however understand when the owner came up with the idea of testing the dog’s new reactions by ringing the home phone. There was only one attempt to bark but with the next two rings, she had given up along with her chasing from room to room.

I thought now was a good time to take my leave but they insisted I stay and I found myself invited to the party. It was certainly very enjoyable and during the evening, the revellers would occasionally test the dog with the collar on and off but mindful that they did not test her immediately after replacing the collar on her. The dog though must have been wondering about this new no barking rule but she did seem very happy with everyone paying her so much attention.

When I am training dog handlers, I often need to demonstrate with their dog and so sometimes I have to fasten Winston up to something. I think when I work another dog, Winston just starts barking with jealousy. You just cannot concentrate when he is barking so I simply take out my citronella collar and whether it has the battery in or even if it empty of gas, as soon as I clip it onto him, we immediately have peace and quiet.

You may recall I wrote the other week of a woman with two dogs in a flat who found such collars worked on her dogs and so she bought one from me. This week I have had another telephone call to take to another woman on the same urbanisation another citronella collar. Obviously the word is spreading.

These types of collar are very effective when used on a high percentage of dogs but many owners immediately think of electric collars, which they are not. Citronella collars do not involve any pain so if you too need some peace in your household or in your neighbourhood then do try them.

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