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No More Barking Frenzies

I accidentally desensitised my dogs to the sound of the doorbell. It happened because I chose a text message tone that sounded just like our doorbell.

The Response

Initially my dogs reacted to hearing the text message tone as they did to hearing the doorbell - in other words, with excitement and barking.

Then, after a while, the doorbell sound (whether it came from the actual doorbell or from the phone) stopped being of particular interest to them. They became desensitised to it because it no longer exclusively meant that someone was at the door.

The Flooding Technique

What I had unwittingly done was use the flooding technique, which is a technique used to ease (or sometimes even erase) overexcitement for something that typically gets a dog worked up.

An example of a situation where flooding may help is when you get out the leads. To most dogs, the leads mean a very exciting event: a walk! But if you start taking the leads out randomly as well as just before a walk, the leads stop being a definite cue that a walk will soon take place. The theory is that this will, after a great deal of repetition, mean a reduction of (or possibly an end to) the barking frenzy that can accompany the appearance of the leads.

What Opponents Of The Flooding Technique Think

Some behaviourists and trainers don’t like the flooding technique. They feel that it’s unfair to the dog. In the example above of the leads, they would say that the dog is being teased with the promise of a walk which doesn’t always happen.

I guess they see the flooding technique as being akin to playing some kind of a sick mind-game. I don't agree, but that's what some behaviourists and trainers think.

Before Trying It...

However - and this is a big however so please listen carefully - you MUST consult your vet before trying it. The reason is that some dogs may not be able to handle being repeatedly plunged into an exciting situation that, at least initially, will raise their blood pressure.

If this ends up being the case, hopefully your vet will suggest another technique that will help reduce or eradicate your dog's barking frenzies.

In Conclusion

Although I've shared what I (accidentally) did to stop the doorbell-related barking frenzies of my dogs, it doesn’t really matter what technique you use, as long as it doesn’t involve yelling or physical violence. I hope you find a way to help your dog too, and best of luck!

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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