Seniors Today Newspaper
Feel Free To Share!

Ask A Baby Not To Cry

If you have ever heard the song It’s Impossible by Perry Como, you may relate to the title of this column. If you have never listened to this song, Perry Como was a popular entertainer in the 50s, not the governor of New York in the 90s. Puppies and kittens, although not human babies, are still babies just the same, and asking them not to cry or bark can be an impossible task as well.

There are many online suggestions on how to stop your dog from barking. One is a shock collar that senses when your dog or cat vocalizes and shocks them. The theory is that the animal will correlate the barking or crying with the shocking sensation around their neck and will learn to stop vocalizing. This is inhumane, and I don’t recommend it. How would you like to be shocked every time you open your mouth to speak? Barking and meowing are natural behaviors for dogs and cats. The question you need to ask is, “Why do you want to silence your pet?”

Most of the time, pet owners need their pets to be quiet because they live in a condo or apartment, and the neighbors complain that their pet makes too much noise. Maybe the pet owner leaves their residence for an extended period, like to go to a job or to attend a meeting for the day, and their pet is barking and meowing the entire day, driving their neighbors crazy. The solution isn’t to shock collar the animal or even sedate it with calming supplements available at local pet stores or from your veterinarian, although there are times when calming pills may be needed (thunderstorms, fireworks, etc.). Removing your pet from the situation is probably the best solution.

When pets are left alone, even with another pet companion, they can become afraid and lonely. They will express their fear and loneliness by barking, meowing, howling, and crying, sometimes for many hours until they cry themselves to sleep. If you can take your pet to a daycare center so they are with other animals and people, even if they bark and cry, they do so at a facility that accepts this behavior. There is no punishment or penalty if the animals are vocal.

Yelling at your pet when they vocalize doesn’t usually work. Reassuring them that everything is alright and petting them usually will work. My little dog, Mini-Cooper, is a barker. He is very observant and barks at everything. His barking is short-lived once what he perceives as a threat is a threat no more, but still he will bark frequently. It’s one of those fast “woof, woof, woof” barks that sounds like

Dino the dinosaur from the Flintstones animated series. We always reassure him that everything is fine if it is. One time, he was barking, and when I went to investigate, I found that my oldest dog at the time, Spencer, had fallen and was stuck behind the couch. Spencer was not hurt, just stuck. Spencer seldom barked, so Cooper was barking for him. Sometimes, a barking dog is a good thing.

The best way to keep your pets from barking or crying too much is to remove them from the situation. If your dog barks at the vacuum cleaner, put it in a room or its’ crate until you are done vacuuming, or vacuum when your dog is being walked by your spouse, kids, or a pet sitter. If your cat meows excessively when hungry, distract them with a toy or a treat to hold them over until it is time to eat.

If your dog barks at the neighbor’s dogs when you let them out into your yard, either don’t let your dog out at the same time as the other dogs or realize that dogs bark to communicate. Yes, they will be barking, running, and even charging at each other through a fence, but that’s what dogs do. The neighbor’s dog is at fault just as much as your dog, so deal with it. Trying to train your puppy to never bark at another dog is not easy, so let your dog be a dog.

My dog Bentley never barks. I have heard him bark maybe three times over the last four years, and only because Cooper bit him a little too hard when they were playing. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter who’s knocking at the door or ringing the doorbell; he doesn’t bark. Some dogs don’t bark, while others bark a lot. When you get a puppy, you never know which one it will grow up to be.

If you are in a situation where a barking dog is a big problem, then either look for solutions that do not harm the animal, like removing the animal from the situation (daycare, pet sitter, taking dog with you to work if possible, have a friend care for the dog in their home, etc.) or maybe having a dog is not the best option for you. Cats are usually much quieter than dogs and might be better for an apartment or condo dweller. Regardless of the type of pet, please remember to adopt, don’t shop, and support your local animal shelters.

Barry KuKes is the former Community Outreach Director of Halifax Humane Society. E-mail him at bkukes @gmail.com View more of his work at minicooperproductions.com