We’ve tried it all: Chew toys, a variety of dog bones, hiring a dog walker everyday for 3 months, and citronella collars. No matter what we tried, the outcome was the same: the dogs barked at everything. Outside or inside noise, other dogs, humans, birds chirping, and occasionally even the wind.
So when we were embarking (Ha!) on this journey, we were naturally contemplating if every campground would kick us out. Or even worse, what if they barked during one of Jessi’s business meetings. We visualized it, “Yes, thank you (insert VP name) for taking the time for this meeting…bark.. I want to say.. bark bark bark, howl, growl bark.” Not a pretty picture.
And these dogs can howl. Truly.
So here’s what we did to make things… better because perfect was simply unrealistic. But things have been better, significantly.
1. We bought a water spray bottle.
A friend recommended spraying them when they barked. For dogs? We thought that was a cat thing. But this really works! Our border collie will run miles in the rain but one squirt of water will turn her into a quiet, submissive dog . Win!
2. We reward them with hugs and positive reinforcement when they want to bark but don’t.
Sure, this one seems obvious but how do you reward a dog when it’s not barking? It would be hard for them to understand that the affection was associated with their silence. So now, when they half-bark or growl under their breath but don’t “panic bark,” we give them praise. This is progress people.
3. Having a set routine has helped their anxiety.
Walk in the morning, fresh water, relax, dinner at night, followed by another walk. Seems easy, but for these previously busy humans, a set routine was not always the case. Now that we have a set time table the dogs they have calmed down knowing what to expect from their day.
4. Our dogs bark and that’s ok.
Acceptance, as with all things in life, is key. They are dogs and their job is to protect the household. When else in life will we have a creature so concerned about our safety that they’ll alert us to the sudden danger of wind? Never. And one day, maybe we’ll need those stellar vocal chords to alert us to a real danger. Hopefully not, but living on the road, it is nice having these killer beasts on our side.
If you have other suggestions to camp with noisy pets please leave a comment down below!