When doodle dog barking drives you crazy, it helps to understand why your doodle is barking to know how to solve it most effectively! In this episode, Behavioral Veterinarian Dr. Sif Traustadottir, also known as Sif the Vet, shares her expert advice on how to quiet dog barking in your home and detect if there's underlying fear or anxiety causing it. Dr. Sif also shares the worrisome health effects not addressing possible fear or anxiety can have on your dog, even if you have used collars or other devices to silence the symptoms.
Do you cringe when the doorbell rings or worry about having your mic on during a zoom call?
Have you been researching dog bark control collars, considering vibrate or shock dog collars, dog bark silencers, and if dog bark collars are effective or humane? Are you currently using a citronella, vibrating, or shock collar, spray bottles, or cans of pennies, but want to know more scientific and modern answers?
Or have you wondered when dogs bark what are they saying? Is it confusing that your dog barks while their tail is wagging, your dog only barks until the door or gate opens, or when your dog barks at night?
This episode helps answer those doodle-barking questions and more like:
- Why is my doodle mix, bernedoodle, labradoodle, aussiedoodle, or goldendoodle barking a lot?
- Why is my dog barking at nothing?
- When dog barking drives you crazy
- Dog barking noise complaint from neighbors
- Why is my dog barking like crazy
- How to stop a dog from barking at nothing?
- How much dog barking is acceptable or is too much?
- Why your dog is barking so much?
Use our FREE cheat sheet of doodle's favorite treats to help train the way Dr. Sif advises!
Learn more in Dr. Sif's free three-day online workshop for dog parents: Get your dog to listen to you
Get your dog to stop barking at everything and pay attention to you instead during Dr. Sif's free workshop from September 6-8, 2022. Sign up now!
Follow Corinne The Doodle Pro™ on Instagram or Facebook to get a sneak peek at the precious doodles she takes care of daily!
If you want to bring your Doodle parenting to the next level, sign up for The Doodle Pro™ Society waitlist now! Members get exclusive access to The Doodle Pro™, Doodle training modules, and live Q&A's with world-renowned guest experts (that would usually charge $100's each to book a virtual session). Visit thedoodlepro.com/waitlist to be the first to know when doors open again!
How to Get Your Doodle to Stop Barking at Everything
Corinne Gearhart: Hello, Dr. Sif, we're so happy to have you. We have a lot of members and listeners who their dogs bark and as with the pandemic, so many of us started working from home. A lot of our colleagues know which one of us has the barkers and we get a lot of advice on those zoom calls of what we need to try and what's going on.
And I am so excited for you to share your expertise. Can you share a little with our listeners, your background and what brings you to this point?
Dr. Sif the Vet: Yeah. I'm a veterinarian by training and I'm originally from Iceland. But I live in Italy now because I is just too cold for me. so it came up on that.
That's fair. And yeah, so I moved here a few years ago and I decided to, I'd already taken extra training to become a veterinary behaviorist. So I started doing behavior consultations and I decided to go completely online with my behavior consultations, cuz I saw there was a need and the opportunity to do that.
I've been working here online with clients from all over the world since that's wonderful. When I started doing this I was doing the, a consultation by zoom and I had to send everyone like a, video on like how to click on the zoom link, how to connect in zoom.
And now everybody's like on board with everything. Like the, everybody just knows what to do now, as it's the that's perfect. We've all
Corinne Gearhart: caught up with you. Yes . We have a lot of listeners in the states, Canada and Australia. And we're used to going to talk to our vets in person. Especially usually people reach out to a trainer or their vet when they're asking about a behavior problem or barking how would somebody work with you virtually.
Dr. Sif the Vet: What I do is a little bit different. I'm not a dog trainer per se. Like I never, I don't do like training in this traditional setting where you like walk around in circles and teach the dogs to sit and lie down and stuff like that. So that's other people do that much better than, what I do.
My role is more like a psychologist or a psychiatrist for dogs. So it's working on like mental health issues. Rather than just regular training. And actually most of my clients their dogs are not badly behaved or because of lack of training. That's usually not the case.
Like people have already been to like a basic obedience classes. They've maybe even consulted with a trainer before, so they, don't have a training problem. They have a mental health problem.
Corinne Gearhart: Can you explain the link more of what you describe as like a mental health problem instead of a training problem?
Dr. Sif the Vet: So with the barking, for example like free, like online trainings. I always get people commenting on my ads and stuff like, oh my neighbor needs this. when my sister,
Corinne Gearhart: the neighbors always know when there's barking.
Dr. Sif the Vet: I tell them like, just print out the, landing page and put it in there.
So what I teach people for example, a lot of people initially come to me because there's just too much barking and it's driving them nuts and they've tried everything before nothing is working. So in these cases sometimes yes, dog's barking because of excitement or something like that.
You can maybe fix it with a little bit of training. But a lot of times the barking, there's a deeper issue. The reason why the dog is barking is because there is anxiety. The dog is reactive because it's scared of other dogs or people or circumstances scared of being home alone. For example, that's a common problem now after the pandemic.
So what I always do, no matter what's going on is to start by trying to understand why, what's the real problem. Because the real problem is almost never my dog barks. The real problem is the dog is afraid of strangers of other dogs or certain types of dogs. Sometimes they only react to dogs, other certain size or certain color.
Sometimes it's a little bit difficult to understand. A lot of people say I can't figure out like what it is exactly that sets the dog off. So it could be just like a glance or a scent that we don't. We are just not able to pick it up
Corinne Gearhart: and when they are able to find a correlation, say every time the doorbell goes off or they see someone walk by our window, They, I can't get them to stop barking.
What do you do with that? Yeah, so
Dr. Sif the Vet: yeah, usually I start by going through the, dog's body language. Like you have to understand why the dog is barking so you can find the right solution, cuz otherwise you're just gonna be, it's like putting bandaid on like a gashy wound. Like it's not gonna help I'm using this metaphor.
Cause I'm a vet of course, but it's not gonna help if you're just trying to change the behavior from the surface and you're not doing anything to address real problem. So for example, if your dog is barking at the door, because they're scared and they're worried that a stranger is gonna come in the house, like you can train them to stop barking or you can like shout and try and get them to stop barking.
Yeah. But you're not fixing the problem. So it's not going to go away. So even if you can use like positive science based really good training methods. But it's not going to fix the problem unless you are also fixing the underlying emotional issue. That's the dog is struggling with cuz otherwise you're just, like I said you're just their behavior, but you're not helping them to feel better on.
Corinne Gearhart: How do you tell based on body language, if they're just excited and they wanna go see the dog or mailman that's outside or are happy the doorbell's ringing or that there's an underlying fear or anxiety based on their body language.
Dr. Sif the Vet: You have to completely understand their body language and you have to be able to pick up on the subtle signs. For example, a dog that's like happy and excited. They usually wagging their tail while they're barking. And they're usually like wagging like their whole body with it.
Like it's not just the tail. If the tail is wagging like really slowly from side to. They're more nervous, but if they're happy, they're like a happy dog is all like the whole body's loose. The whole body is loose and wagging And when the, person comes inside, they're like jumping up and down trying to greet the person.
And they're like still wagging their tail and stuff. Whereas a dog that's nervous and worried about strangers coming in the house, you can hear a little bit difference in their voice as well. It's more like high when they're nervous and and then when the door opens and the person comes inside, they will retreat.
Like they'll go away from the door usually. And they're like back up and maybe they'll keep barking or they're, like retreat into the house. They won't approach. Person right away. And some of them they, might stop barking after a few minutes, but they're, still like wary. They're not coming too close.
And and they have these signals that they are giving out also like they're yawning, smacking their lips, licking their nose, looking away. Sometimes looking with the moving the eyes. It's very subtle, but you can see the white of the eye.
Corinne Gearhart: Yes. Trainers in the states call it whale eye. Yes. I dunno why, but you see the white around.
Dr. Sif the Vet: Yeah. So yeah, you can see all these signs of nervousness that they are signaling and There's a lot of problems that come from owners, not seeing and not acknowledging the signs if they are nervous and this problem is not being addressed. So sometimes the, problem just escalates until you have an accident where the dog bites or nips someone,
Corinne Gearhart: a lot of those signs are really subtle and they're speaking a language that isn't ours.
So a lot of times it could be missed. If someone doesn't know what they're looking for.
Dr. Sif the Vet: If we are trying to understand how our dog is communicating well with us, we have to take some time to learn all this stuff because it doesn't come automatically to us.
No. It's like, when I moved here to Italy, like I, I, wasn't able to speak except, and not a lot of people here speak English oh,
Corinne Gearhart: that's wonderful. So we see with a lot of doodles, the type of barking that you described, where the, after someone enters they retreat and they are making their own space, as long as they have the ability to you also see a alert barking that looks like patrolling for sounds.
So if they hear anything in the backyard, it's running outside B and running along the fence, or a similar sort of bark. I hope I'm not triggering anyone's barking right now by making that noise but barking at the window. And then after the door opens, they run at them and. It, I wouldn't say it's exactly comfortable behavior.
The barking might continue, but they greet them. And then after a while the barking could subside, but other appeasement behaviors. What are your thoughts on like alert, barking and barking? That looks like that.
Dr. Sif the Vet: Yeah. So this is also usually some kind of nervousness. And I, think let's take a couple of minutes and discuss the difference between fear and anxiety, because I think this is also an important decision to make, because fear is fear.
As we know it's a feeling of, dread or like worry. But fear is connected to something that you see something that's there. So for example, if you're afraid of spiders, you are like, you just scared when you see a spider and like completely more life outside of that. And, just get scared when you see a spider.
But anxiety is when you're always scared that a spider might be somewhere. And then it, this starts like this part of your brain. That's like in the background, protecting you from danger can become like a little bit out of control or overactive. So it's always on in the background. And that means that it's difficult to relax and people who have experienced anxiety know what this is, but it's maybe a little bit difficult if you've never if you've tried it yourself, but it's like a, it's a constant state of alertness or stress.
And we know from studies in people and also in talks that long term stress actually has a detrimental effect on our health, not just our mental health, but also our physical health, because everything is connected. If there's an underlying anxiety present in the dog, that's not being treated or addressed then often they, we see that there's lack of sleep.
Like they, they don't as much normal dog, like normal. They sleep for at least 12 hours. To be more of 14, 15 hours per day. So that means like they sleep all night and all day and they're only active for maybe eight hours. And if they are like never sleeping, like they just sleep during the night or you see them like where they're sleeping, but they're like, they don't relax completely like lying on like a S Spanx pose.
Yeah. Yeah. So they, might be sleeping like with their head propped on their legs, or they're like half propped up against something. They look, they're relaxing. That's also like an underlying, a sign of their, some kind of underlying anxiety. And when they're in this constant state of alertness, then they're much more quick to react to anything that happens like a sound or something they see.
Or sometimes the owners unable to, really know what it is that sets them off. Like it might be, like just, they see something. Some people talk about like the dog seeing ghosts, but they're actually not seeing ghosts they're they can just like their sense of hearing and sense of smell is much, much stronger than us so they can hear like the slightest sound like they can hear like the neighbor stepping on a TWI in their yard when you can't hear.
or like a bird wrestling, the leaves or something. So they are hearing something, but we can't process it because our hearing is not as good. So it looks like they're just reacting to nothing, but to them, it's something and they're worried that something is gonna something bad is gonna happen.
Corinne Gearhart: So that could look like when I described, when the door opens and they see that it's a friendly person or a familiar person.
Yeah. Then the barking comes down that it, that would describe a dog experiencing anxiety of what could it be? What could it be? Yeah. Could be as opposed to fear of that person.
Dr. Sif the Vet: Yeah. And when they see that it's a friendly person, they might calm down right away. Or if, it's not a friendly person, they'll probably retreat and, not try to yeah.
Corinne Gearhart: lot of doodle families describe what they call the doodle sleeping pose, where a dog is just sprawled out on their back and they're full bellies exposed, and it's just a sweet way of sleeping. And that would be the opposite of a dog with high anxiety sleeping based on what you're describing. When I see a doodle who's experiencing general anxiety, it almost feels out of 10, they're always at a five or six ready.
They like it. They get to the 10 really fast with the yeah. Barking because they're always ready and are on alert and they can't seem to fully soften and feel at ease and turn off.
Dr. Sif the Vet: Yeah. Sometimes I also describe this as like a traffic lights. This is easy easier. It's like we have three lights, we have the green light where the dog is completely relaxed.
Like you said, like if they're laying down and having a nap, they're like completely on their back exposed, exposing their belly, or they might light on their side, they might be snoring or whatever. And they're, you can just see that they're like breathing slowly and they're like completely relaxed. And also when they're awake, they're like just doing their thing.
Maybe like they're when they're eating or they might be chewing on a, treat or playing with their toys or something. They're just completely relaxed. And in the moment that's like a happy life for a dog. Okay. And then we have the yellow light, which is all these when they're giving all these appeasing signals that we mentioned before, like the yawning shaking themselves.
Also, this happens often, if there's an episode where they are a little bit nervous and then after they shake themselves, it's like shaking off the, stress. Yes. It's a way of calming themselves down and then the yawning, the lip licking the lip, smacking, looking, retreating, all these kind of things.
And like looking, away looking, away. And and these, this is what I would describe as like the yellow song. This is like the, the yellow light. And then there's a red light where they go off like barking, like really like crazy. It might happen inside the house or in the garden, or it might happen outside in the street when you're walking the dog or at the park.
If they see a dog that they don't like for some reason might go off like that. And usually when they're in that state you can't do any training. Like it's too late at that point. Because there's like you probably who experience this with their dog, they've already tried like giving the dog a treat and they won't even look at the treat.
They're just not able to eat or think about food when they're in this state of mind. So they completely over their threshold. Yes, exactly. And that's, where into the red light. So we want of course, like for a completely calm normal dog, of course, everybody has moments where they like have a stressful episode or something, but usually it happens like once in a while but for, docs that have underlying anxiety, they might have an every day or every other day or multiple times per day, when, where they go into the red light and they might spend like half the day in a yellow light state of mind.
yeah. And, or maybe 80% or 90% of the time sometimes when people do my program, like they real, they come to me after the first week and they're like, oh my God. I just realized that my dog is spending like 90% of his day, like in the yellow. And the purpose of the, treatment is to bring that down so they can spend more of their time brain.
So less time the yellow, and to have fewer episodes where they're going into the red the red light.
Corinne Gearhart: I hear from a couple of clients that my dog only exhibits the signs that you would describe as the higher level yellow or red, when my husband's gone. And when it's just me, this would be the wife's.
Yeah. Like he needs to protect me and he's barking more. Yeah. What does
Dr. Sif the Vet: that mean to. Yeah, it's it's the same thing, really. And also this kind of, because you mentioned protecting that's also if you really about it what is protecting, for example, protecting your food or protecting your territory.
If you have to bark to protect your territory, what does that really mean? It means that you're afraid that somebody's going to take something from you. If you have to work or protect your food, it means that you are scared that somebody's gonna come and take your food. Because if you are completely relaxed, you'll just eat your food and you're not worried about other people coming going.
And it's, the same, like if they are, so this kind of protective it's, really a sign of anxiety. And fear because it's like, they are afraid that something is gonna happen. Something's something bad is gonna happen. And and it really is often a matter of the dog's wellbeing to help them to get out of this state and not have to worry all day's, it's sad that the dog has to worry all day about something bad happening,
Corinne Gearhart: agree poodles, and there's certain breeds that have genetic predispositions to higher levels of anxiety or that have been bred to guard.
Which means that they're bred to be at this higher alert, which for their mental and physical health is hard to sustain. Especially living in an apartment or in the suburbs where there's so much to be alert
Dr. Sif the Vet: for. Yeah. And people always think that like these. Like large dogs that are like bred to be guard dogs, that they are like so brave.
But in reality they, have a, very high tendency to become nervous because of the way they're bred. They're bred to be suspicious and and nervous.
Corinne Gearhart: Yeah. And if you're living around a lot of other people and dogs, that's a lot of triggers that you've lined up for them to deal with day after day.
Dr. Sif the Vet: Exactly.
Corinne Gearhart: So we hear a lot of different advice told to our doodle parents on how to address barking. And I would say none of it addresses the underlying fear and anxiety that they're experiencing. Yeah. Of the top suggestions are to put a Bart collar on that would either beep vibrate or have an electric.
Shock. Most people do the vibrate to start. Yeah. And what are your thoughts on that use with dogs who are barking out of fear?
Dr. Sif the Vet: Anxiety. Yeah. It's and there's also colors that like spray something in their face, this Ciella spray, something like that. Yep. And this is this is thought of as being like less less punitive than electric, more humane than electric sharp colors.
And yes, I would say that it's more humane than electric sharp color, but again, it's the same problem. Like you're not addressing underlying issue. So you're just putting like a, you're putting like a muscle on your dog. It's if you would just take their mouth shut and and them can't express their fear.
Yeah. It stops like your noise problem. , but it's not helping the doc to get over what it is that they're scared of and to have a better life.
Corinne Gearhart: And most of those have a humane limit set by arbitrarily set by the company where it, after five seconds of shock or vibrate, it will stop in case there's an error or the citronella only has so much in the kind of vault on the collar.
Yeah. So a lot of dogs and doodles icy will push through cuz their level of anxiety or fear is so high, they push through yeah, that discomfort, unpleasantness or pain. And as you said, when they're over threshold training, isn't happening. So they're not learning their lesson,
Dr. Sif the Vet: they're not learning anything.
Then the next time the same thing happens that it just starts all over again. And so it's not a long term solution. And like you said, with like when it's finished, like it, and some of them also they learn how to like, just put, push the color to the side, so it doesn't hit their face. And they're not looking anything, what can also happen is they could associate this uncomfort or this how do you, how would, how did you describe it?
The pain or the discomfort or fear? Yeah. Discomfort or fear. Like they can accidentally associate that with something else. Yes. So they could be like looking at the owner when the, when they get the call the, shock but, and they, then they start to associate the, shock with the owner being present.
So it actually creates war problems. You think that you are solving one problem. So yes. And, it's not even solving the first problem. I, think that they are like at best useless and at its worst, like they just make the dog
Corinne Gearhart: worse. Yes. One of my teachers the expert, Jean Donaldson shared a story of when she was working with a dog who had been barking that might have used a citronella, but they used some sort of bark collar and the dog grew a generalized fear of curtains because the curtains were always near the window when the dog would bark and the dog associated curtains with that discomfort, comfort, and pain.
So then they needed to do counterconditioning and have the dog feel comfortable again and safe around curtains. Yeah, because dogs, when they're at that state, they don't even know they're barking. Yeah. It's like sometimes when you're really upset, you don't realize even you're crying. Yeah. It is an outside.
Exhibition of what's going on.
Dr. Sif the Vet: Exactly. It's a completely automatic reaction on in your brain. And it's not the thinking part of your brain, that's making reaction. So they're not the, dog's not thinking oh, let me bark. And then and this is gonna happen and then that's gonna happen.
Like they're just reacting.
Corinne Gearhart: So if you are able to discern with a client who's consulting with you about their dogs barking, and you're able to discern that it is fear and anxiety related, what steps yeah. Do you and your clients take next? Yeah.
Dr. Sif the Vet: I have, I actually have a whole program for this and it's and it's about trying to achieve the inner calm and so we use there's a lot of things for, example food science teaching the dog to relax.
I have an exercise where I teach them to do like a, it's like meditation for dogs. Yeah. Where you just teach them to like, take a deep breath and like breathe in and breathe out like a slow, deep breath. And that helps with helps them to relax and this works with people as well.
It's like the, I don't know if you've maybe heard of like the five second rule or something it's like, where you just stop and count to five or you just stop and take a couple of deep breaths. This is one of the things that use and and also a lot of times just recognizing that what's going on and the owners like removing all the stressors, like all these colors.
Stopping any kind of shouting or threatening behavior on part of the owner. Sometimes it's like the owners don't even realize that they are being threatening. Yeah. The dog. We, have to stop all this sometimes depending on the case, we have to try to, because we're also trying to just lower the levels of cortisol in this blood that had come chronically high sometimes cause of this issue.
So we have to, in the beginning, when we're starting out the treatment, we have to completely try to reduce all the triggers, the that trigger the, fear and anxiety, as much as we can, for example, a dog that's afraid of being home alone. We have to make some adjustments or arrangements so that the dog doesn't have to be alone for a while, until we can build up tolerance.
and then we do desensitizing and counter conditioning. Also, this is like the standard treatment also is desensitizing and counter conditioning to get them to acclimatize. And to first, the desensitizing is just to get used to the thing that they fear, and we use like a specific way of doing that, teaching the doc that it's okay to be calm and to make calm decisions one.
But the trigger needs to be like far away. So like further away than they are so that they're not getting constantly aggravated or triggered.
Corinne Gearhart: So their arousal stays below their threshold.
Dr. Sif the Vet: Yes. So we're teaching them to stay like in, at least in the Yellowstone, but preferably like in the green zone or closer to the green song, And not always like up high with the like, in the orange, like on the way to the red.
So we're teaching them to just decom in the moment and giving them options so that we are not, for example, not keeping them on a really tight leash, like pulling the leash close to us, because then we're creating tension ourselves. Sometimes like we, as the, owner, we need to learn also to relax and give them the choice to react a different way.
And and the counter conditioning is about like changing the negative association that they have now with whatever it is like in your case the, curtains. Yes. And change through a positive state of mind. And sometimes when I work with people Privately. I also prescribe medication.
So I'm actually, I'm not licensed to practice veterinary medicine except in Iceland and Denmark So if I work with clients in the us or somewhere else, I don't prescribe medicines myself and actually prefer not to do that either with my clients in Iceland, even though I have a license there to practice and I can write prescriptions I prefer that they they get their prescription from their general practitioner, like their normal veterinarian.
So I will work with their normal veterinarian to give recommendations on what medicines to use, what dosages and stuff, and then their regular veterinarian does the prescribing. And then if anything happens, they are like on the ground close to the client where they can get help if they need, if there's something that comes up in.
But I, don't usually start out with medicine, but it's one of the tools in the excellent toolbox.
Corinne Gearhart: I mentioned working from home. My kids are home from school. So I'm gonna close this door. You might have seen him poke in.
curious ones. Sorry about that. Can you describe the difference in the states? We have our traditional vet and then behavioral vets. A lot of times when doodle parents are worried about mental health issues, they'll raise should we try medication with their regular vet and a lot of our traditional vets aren't as comfortable with medication.
Yeah. And the behavioral vets are more versed at it. Can you describe the difference in those
Dr. Sif the Vet: areas of study? Yeah. So I did my degree ner and actually studied in Denmark. And that's why I have a license there as well. And and then I also did part of my studies in the us actually in the university of California and Davis.
So that was a great experience in my final year in, vet school. And I started working in practice and I did some different things cuz veterinarians, we learn a lot of things. So we are also experts on like food safety, farm animals medicines, like all kinds of other things. So I did like farm animal work and like food safety and health inspections on farm, inspections and stuff like that.
And then I switched to small animal practice which was really my my goal from the beginning. And I worked for many years. I had my own hospital in, in Iceland. And then I just thought a lot of people were having problems with behavior. And I saw like we were doing so many like behavioral TTIA and I just, I felt so horrible.
I did I did actually a study where I examined like the reasons why people have their cats, dogs, ized. And it was really like the rate of behavioral EU initiatives was scary. So I really wanted to be able to, help because I, just felt that it was so such a waste that all these stocks were being utilized.
And a lot of times they can be helped. People just felt they tried everything and nothing worked and they couldn't do anything. So it's a state of help. And I've actually been in this situation myself. So I know how they feel and I just wanted to help these people. So I decided to go back to school and do a second degree, or actually it was my third degree, but that's another
So I did a second veteran degree degree in the UK the university of Southampton and I studied behavior for some years. And then I really we learn a lot more, more about like the in chemistry how these medicines affect, like vet learn are starting to get more and more specialized, just like in human medicine, like your general practitioner.
I mean they can prescribe, for example, antidepressants and stuff. Usually they prefer to To refer the person and and it's better for them. And I, cuz I work with a lot of like general practitioner veterinarians and they are actually, they're more comfortable usually prescribing the medications if they get if they get a recommendation from a behaviorist was already assessed the situation, talk to the clients.
I have them in in a, program. Like I never do like just one off consultations because I found that they're just not very effective. I used to do that in the beginning. That's how I was trained to do like super long consultations, like 90 minutes or, two hours. And then give people like a stack of papers after a huge report on like everything that's that we can fix with behavior.
And then there was like a long list of all the things that they needed to do. And I found that people. It's really difficult to remember if they came into the, office. They couldn't remember the stuff that I'd said then they felt uncomfortable or or not confident about carrying out the treatment plan.
So I stopped doing that and now I only do at least three sessions where we meet in the beginning and because we're doing it online now, people can send me a video for example, and I can see the dog in, the home instead of like in a setting where they are not feeling comfortable. So the dog can stay in the comfort of their own home.
And I can still see everything that's going on. People describe it and they take pictures and videos and then they can also record the session. After the session, if they're unsure. And I, now I only give people max five things after each
Corinne Gearhart: session so they could put it in action. Yes. It's three to five
Dr. Sif the Vet: actionable things that are not too complicated and you can start right away.
And then we have a second and a third session, sometimes a more session, depending on the situation. Where I follow up with the people. And also then the practitioner who is prescribed medication knows that I am actually following up with the people and checking with them. Like, how is it going?
I'm checking if there are side effects or if, it's not working, then we might have to switch the medication and stuff. And the, yeah it's, like a collaboration with your with the general practitioner of.
Corinne Gearhart: Wonderful. So it's really, hard to get into a behavioral vet in the states. Yeah. I don't know personally what it's like.
There's so many of us. Yeah, no, there's not. So if someone is in located in an area where it's hard to see a behavioral vet in person and they work with you, or they just choose to work with you, you communicate a recommendation to their primary vet. What you think is the right move to address the underlying fear or anxiety.
Yeah. And then the vet is overseeing their general medical wellbeing. Exactly. They know they've done the weight check
Dr. Sif the Vet: also. Yeah. It's also really important. And that's why that also is the difference between a veterinary behaviorist and like a, trainer behaviorist is that veterinarians are also experts in physical ailments.
So sometimes there is an element. Of like a physical problem that's causing or intriguing problem. So it's important that for me to work with their veterinarian, if I suspect that there might be issues with the dog's hearing or eyesight or hormonal imbalance or pain or something like that.
So that's, also an important aspect of the treatment. Yes. If
Corinne Gearhart: General reactivity, one of our, as a trainer, one of our first moves is to always say, get them checked by the vet. And that's usually to look for pain. Yeah, because dogs are excellent at hiding their pain at a whimper or a limp, they usually try to hide.
Yeah, cuz they could be prey
Dr. Sif the Vet: animal animals, but yeah, factor general just level of wellbeing and, even things like, for example something that wouldn't necessarily Make you think that they have pain is for example skin issues like allergies and stuff. They're actually like, if you are really itchy they can be painful as well.
Like you can have pain in your skin. Like I have a skin condition myself. I know what is like. Yeah. It's not just cosmetic, like it's it can be painful and it's really irritating. So this can also be a contributing factor that's important to address that could
Corinne Gearhart: put you in the yellow zone already.
Dr. Sif the Vet: Exactly. Yeah. And when you said the triggers, like when there's just some days there's just more stuff going on, like there's this one underlying, there's like the underlying maybe anxiety, and then there's the underlying constant itching that just makes you irritated. And then one might be like the, mailman and a visit to the back and some other things going on.
So like then it's like
Corinne Gearhart: as a as a, from the trainer perspective. Tell me what your thoughts are on this. I don't see medication as the last final resort or as permanent. I see medication sometimes as a path to be able to access the training and to lower. Where they are go from the red to the yellow or the yellow to the green so that they can access some of that desensitization and counterconditioning and not live in that constant state of fear or anxiety.
Yeah. But some people worry that it's going to be permanent or that they're drugging up their dog and their dog will be zombified. What are your thoughts on
Dr. Sif the Vet: that? Yeah, that's a really good question. I actually I, very much agree with you. Like I, it's not it's not always like the last resort.
Usually when I'm doing like private consultations with people, I that's, when I really dive into the, your specific situation and your dog and what's going on and there's there's like levels of anxiety. So you, I start by like making a proper diagnosis. And then assessing the level and what's going on.
And some cases like it's not always just anxiety that people come to me with. Sometimes there's also just abnormal behaviors, like compulsive behaviors or stuff like that. So in that cases usually it's very difficult to treat without medication. There are some cases where it's just difficult without medication and and the medication, like you said, is designed to just lower the general level of anxiety.
So you can access the, like the green sauna or the Yellowstone faster, and there's slower to react and go into the red zone and just makes the training easier. And it's easier for the dog to absorb the new information that you're trying to teach them. So it can definitely help and it doesn't have to be a last resort and there are cases where I decide right away from the beginning that, okay, this is a case where I would definitely recommend medication.
And then I write a letter for them to take to their general profession and and ask if they can make the prescriptions. And then but in other cases, we start with the behavioral interventions first and I actually do like a group coaching program. It's like an anxiety program for doc. Yeah. It's six week program where that's where like I work in a group setting and we don't use medication unless they're already on me medication, which is fine.
But then if I'm not working like individually with the person, like I can't really prescribe medication. I only do that for private clients, but but I have a group coaching program where everyone goes through together and it's also, I feel it's helpful for people like people.
Sometimes, they do in person events as well. And then people come to me and they're like, I'm, oh my God. I'm so glad. I'm not the only one. Cause they're like, I'm the only one in my street where the dog is like behaving like mad. All the neighbors are like looking at me funny. And now I'm here this room with other people and they have the same problem and I feel so
Corinne Gearhart: an understanding support group. Yes.
Dr. Sif the Vet: It's so good to people to like also in a non judgey environment where everyone is like in the same situation, we're all helping each other out. And yeah. So it's, that's really great. And then we've just worked through all the other aspects, but like you said, with the medication it's also not permanent in most cases.
I usually say the longer the problem has been going on the longer it's gonna take to treat it, like something that's been going on with your dog for years, you're not gonna fix that in one consultation. Like it's going to take some time for you and your dog to change your behavior.
And so I usually say that I would say at least three months for the medication, because a lot of them, they, you can't really see any effect until three, four weeks in. Okay. So you need three months. And usually I, the average is like three to six months. Sometimes people go on for a bit longer, depending on their personal situation and and what's going on and how, it's how the treatment is advanced, but it's yeah, it's normally not like a, lifetime deal.
Corinne Gearhart: And they're not zombified. Yes.
Dr. Sif the Vet: Sure. So it's yeah, exactly. Some people are worried about that. It's, possible that some dogs can get side effects from the medication. And especially in the beginning, like the first days they might have side effects. And if the side effects are like if the people feel like their dog is like a zombie, then there's something wrong.
Like we have to change the medication. We have to reduce the dose or change a different medication. So that's not supposed to happen. So if, that happens, then we have a problem and it, doesn't like fix anxiety is not going to take away your personality. Just like in people. If, you're anxious and you just start to feel better, you're going to behave differently.
But it doesn't mean that you're going to be like a, zombie or have no personality, so if that's happening, then there's you have to change
Corinne Gearhart: something. Perfect. I love your advice that the longer it's been going on the longer you can anticipate the treatment will take which to me is motivating.
If your dog is barking out of fear or anxiety, the sooner you address it, the yeah. The quicker your, program could be. Exactly. Exactly. What are your thoughts on C B D choose?
Dr. Sif the Vet: To be honest I, just, haven't seen a lot of studies on it. That are like super conclusive. Yeah, there are some really good studies coming out on epilepsy and it seems to be really working and really good effect.
And actually some behavioral issues are caused by a certain type of epilepsy. So that's one thing where it could potentially work. Yeah. But otherwise I haven't really, it's all like anecdotal, like people say totally. That's what I've
Corinne Gearhart: noticed as
Dr. Sif the Vet: well. Yeah. And, but I haven't seen like really good studies that actually confirm that it's not just us like, feeling like something is better.
yes. . And
Corinne Gearhart: In working with a dog that had anxiety, I remember going to my vet and asking about medication options and I was advised to use it's a big brand dog food that has a probiotic sprinkle on the food. Are you it's that one's Purina, but are you familiar with any of those or use any of
Dr. Sif the Vet: those?
No, not really. I have to say we, don't really have that here. But yeah, we know that the microbiome, like in your gut microbiome does have an effect on your general health and also mental health So I do think that it's important to to take probiotics and there are some good probiotics.
I'm not gonna name any brands. Yeah, that's fine. And yeah I, definitely think that's one of the things that is a good thing. And there are some like promising studies on other supplements oh, good. That people are able to purchase. There's also, I think at least one, or maybe two brands of dog food that has this, like the, mental health supplements, let's say so, that can help in some cases, So it's and for me, I think it's important to like, to just try multitude of different things.
So that's why I have this whole program where we we start with one and then we add more and more things because I, don't think it's so important for us as like in a general setting to be able to completely know was it the food or was it this or that, that made the differe usually it's like the trigger stacking, the treatment stacking is real as well.
So that's what I do. I, stack the treatments as well. Everything starts to add up and that they go over the threshold where they're spending more time in the group zone. And then wonderful. A lot of times when you address these underlying issues, the barking just stops on its own because, and you don't even have to teach them to stop barking or something.
You can do that as well. Like you can teach them to bark on command and stop barking on command. But if your dog is feeling happy and relaxed, they just have less need for excessive parking. They, sometimes they bark in a, like a, like my dog, for example, used to bark a lot. When I got it for poor guy, he was a, stray yeah, in the village when I adopted him and he used to bark a lot, he was always barking.
And and now he's like almost completely stopped barking. He doesn't bark so much at other dogs. Very rarely happens nowadays. And, but when he goes to the village, when we go to the village where I still have a house there. Yeah. And we just use it for like vacations and weekend getaways and stuff.
And when he, has two friends, like board, like doggie friends, Uhhuh, and they like to have. Choir where they like all go into this howling together.
Can't really train him. Not to
Corinne Gearhart: that sounds like a joyous release
Dr. Sif the Vet: with the other dogs, but otherwise he's a perfectly calm and he just I didn't do the, stopping parking on command or use any other devices or anything to make him stop. Like just when I started addressing underly stuff, then started to relax and then it, it doesn't have this need to bark anymore.
And that reminds me, he's still a dog. Like I'm not taking away their it's, I'm not promising you, that your dog will never, ever bark again. And that wouldn't be normal either. It's just that sometimes people have problems because the barking is just too much.
Corinne Gearhart: Yes. There's a sweet saying that I like the birds sing and dogs bark.
Yeah. One sounds beautiful to us and one can be more disruptive, but it's it is the dog as a whole healthy and or yeah. Are they patrolling and anxious and cannot relax and it's disrupting the neighborhood. You're not able to have a zoom call. You fear the door being knocked on or somebody walking
or not. And you remind me of a couple other tips that people give like vinegar in a spray bottle or air correctors, where it's kinda like spraying the air or putting coins in a can and shaking.
Dr. Sif the Vet: Yeah, shaking it or throwing it on the ground. Stomping their feet, also rolling up a newspaper and just not smacking the dog, but like making a noise with your hand or on your leg.
There's a lot of different things that I've seen people using and, I see people recommending that stuff as well. And it's just, it's not a good idea and it's not gonna fix the problem.
Corinne Gearhart: So for people who want to learn more about your programs and about how to get their dog to stop barking, I know you have a free video as a gift to our listeners.
Can you tell us how to define that?
Dr. Sif the Vet: Yeah, I'm actually doing a free workshop in September. So if people wanna participate in that, I'll give you the link so that they can sign up wonderful website. Yeah. The website is safe. Vet save the vet. Yeah. Like online, you can see on my screen. Yes. And com and board slash workshop.
It's the free three day event where they can learn how to get, the doctor. Wonderful.
Corinne Gearhart: I'll put that information for our members so that they could join that. And then this podcast might air after that date or for people that are listening after that's pass.
Dr. Sif the Vet: Yeah. So
Corinne Gearhart: for podcast listeners, how can they find your free gift video on the taps
Dr. Sif the Vet: Dog bark.
Yeah, just, you can just come to my website, save the bat.com and and sign up there. There's a, free uhtraining video for it's it's a small part of a bigger course that I have. So there's a free video on the three biggest stakes that dog parents make with a barking.
Corinne Gearhart: Wonderful.
Thank you, Seth. We really appreciate your expertise. I know we've got a giant time difference as you're in Italy and I'm calling you from Denver. No worries. Thank you. So we are going to stay on after this, just so you can answer some questions exclusively for our doodle pro society membership.
Yeah. And I really appreciate it. Thank you.