Dog Behavior: Random Barker?

Family Health, Featured Article, Healthy Living
on January 16, 2012
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Dear Dr. Kay: My Sheltie-border collie mix has started to bark at odd things. The thunder, coffee grinder and kitchen disposal I can understand, but she also erupts when I put toast into the toaster and the metal stopper in the sink. I thought it might be the metal-on-metal noise, but she does it when we shake out plastic garbage bags, and when my husband goes into the bathroom and closes the door. What’s going on—and how can we break her of this? I saw a jacket-like thing that supposedly helps dogs feel more secure so they won’t bark … is it worth a try? —Liz

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DEAR LIZ: Dogs are such funny creatures and sometimes I wish I could be Dr. Doolittle so as to understand what is causing them to display behavior changes!  In general, Shelties and Border Collies both tend to be hypervigilant reactive dogs. I suspect this may be intrinsic behavior for her that is escalating with age. I do recommend a product called the Thundershirt. It is a tight-fitting jacket that successfully provides a sense of security for many anxious dogs. I also recommend consultation with a dog trainer who will come to your home and help you troubleshoot this problem.