August 16, 2008

Getting the Dogs Ready for Company

When we are expecting out-of-town visitors, we clean up the house and fix some things that have been on our to-do list for a while. And then there's the miscellaneous things that need to be done to avoid embarrassment, like giving Ben a bath. He doesn't like it but he was starting to smell a bit, so on Wednesday Frank got him into the tub and I gave him a good washing. It takes a day or so for him to stop smelling like a wet dog.

Then there was Scamp's barking. He barks a lot sometimes, and since it gets on Frank's nerves, I've been working on behavioral modification. I had a couple of gadgets that make a high-pitched sound that's supposed to deter barking. I had tried them on Ben long ago and they didn't faze him. One is a hand-held gizmo that I have to press when the dogs barks and another automatically reacts to barking provided the dog is in front of it. Unlike Ben, Scamp will stop barking in front of these gadgets but quickly resumes as soon as he moves away from them. Shaking a tin can full of pennies works too, but of course it takes diligence on my part.

I'd read about anti-bark collars and decided that before Frank's sister was due to arrive, I would get the kind that sprays a light scent when the dog barks. (Shock collars are available but that seems like overkill and might confuse the dog since in the past he had to the kind that works with an invisible fence.) Well, the collar works as long as he's wearing it. However, I don't want to keep it on him all the time. After all, I expect him to bark at intruder-like-sounds and I feel he should be free to bark during play time with Ben. Scamp made the distinction immediately: collar on=don't bark; collar off=bark all you want. Maybe he had one before.

Well, at least he can wear it when we need quiet time.

Oh, in case you are wondering, the thing that stops Ben from barking is a little recording of his own bark. Scares him quiet every time.

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