Our mission is to provide a home to animals that have been adandoned or abused, to show them what it is to live in a home where they are loved.

Dogs bark, that's what they do. But an excess of barking is enough to drive a sane person to commit crimes unimaginable to human kind. And while this is a bit of a joke at the same time it's a very serious matter. In Costa Rica, when it comes to barking dogs, most people choose to take matters into their own hands - poisoning.

I have found on at least 2 occasions, poisoned meat that had been thrown into my property. Thankfully no harm was done. But it was a clear message to me that my barking dogs were annoying my neighbours and that too, isn't fair.

With that being said we have a number of ways in which we manage the barking. Barking from one or 2 dogs is frustrating, but from 20 can drive a person to commit a crime. Using these tricks quickly stops a habit from forming or helps to break down a bad habit of barking at the gate,

Be with the dogs

The single most effective and effortless way to keep the dogs calm is as simple as being with them. Sitting with them while watching Netflix, playing on your phone, lazing on the couch, catching up on work or lying in the hammock. It can be having them around you while you work in the garden or walk around the yard or read a book.

Watching for body language, such as cocking the ears, is easy once you have created a relationship with the dogs and simply calling their attention away from whatever they are tempted to bark at so that they can come and sit with you is a powerful tool.

Never ignore a barking dog

A barking dog can trigger others to bark or even howl and a howling dog can trigger an entire howling session that can takes ages to calm.

Watch for the triggers

The dogs bark at passers by in the street. Thankfully my dogs are not the only dogs that do this so listening out for the dogs in the neighbourhood that are already barking you can be prepared.

So, for example, when you hear a lot of action in the street you can be sure that someone is coming down the road with their dogs. Prepare by going to the gate, calling the dogs inside for a mini training session, etc.

Water

Water is a fantastic way to distract the dog from his focus. Spraying them with water in the face, dumping a bowl of water from the balcony into the garden or throwing it into a bush, standing at the gate an as they rush up spray them with water, are all wonderful ways to stop the dog from reacting and break the focus.

It doesn't hurt them or upset them, it simply distracts them from the the focus of their barking.

Mini Training Sessions

From about 4-6pm the street becomes abuzz with neighbours walking their dogs or going for a sunset stroll. This is when the dogs charge the gate the most causing us a great amount of frustration. Distracting them with a mini training session is very mentally stimulating and also keeps them quiet.

Time Out

Keeping the dogs calm is a big deal. Adrenaline usually takes a long time to work its way out of the dogs system so preventing them from getting themselves worked up is key. Sometimes a dog is so worked up that they need to de stress and the best way to do this is to put them in a quiet space where they are comfortable with a meaty bone to chew one. Chewing is a great way for dogs to work through their stress. It also distracts them from the fact that they are alone, which is not something they like at all.

Quick Rotations

Rotating is one of the ways we keep the dogs under control with as much freedom as possible. However when the dogs are restless it works to use quick rotation to get them to calm down. This means 5 minutes outside and then 5 minutes inside, 5 minutes outside and then another 5 minutes inside. In this way they do not have enough time to get worked up, they have enough time to calm down and they are still getting enough stimulation.

Volunteers who are interested in helping to form or shape dog's behaviour will enjoy experimenting with various techniques and many will even be able to use some of the information gathered from the dog training course.

If you are interested in volunteering to hone your skills, to help us out or to make a difference, get in touch! We want to hear from you.

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