The Ferber Method: Letting Your Dog Bark it Out

I did something terrible to Olive the Renegade the other day, and I think sharing it will somehow make it seem less horrible than if I keep it to myself.

I yelled at her. Specifically, I screamed “Shut your whore mouth, Olive!”

I know – screaming at a 5 pound dog to shut her whore mouth is probably the equivalent of stealing candy from a baby and then slapping that baby. Although, your baby should not have had candy in the first place, she’s just a baby and you’re a terrible parent. I probably just saved your baby from a lifelong struggle with sugar addiction.

Back to Olive.

Olive has become increasingly more demanding. I blame myself for coddling her. I let her get away with terrible behavior that I would never let the bigger dogs get away with. She’s become an entitled, spoiled…..I’m just going to say it, asshole. She’s become an entitled little asshole. And I take 100% responsibility for this.

One of the ways she has been acting out recently is by barking non-stop if she is not getting attention. Like if we are in a different room and she can’t come in with us, she will bark. For a fucking hour straight, if she has to.

The Bad Seed

The Bad Seed

I remembered back to the research I had done when I decided to apply parenting techniques to deal with Violet the Screaming Dog’s issues with eating random crap off of the ground. I read about this Dr. Ferber guy who is a genius because he managed to turn being lazy into an official parenting method.

Basically, Dr. Ferber didn’t feel like getting up every single time his kid screamed, so he decided to ignore it until it stopped. He realized that this was a winning idea and was like, “Hey, I can just name this idea after myself and people will totally buy it because I’m a doctor and I will make a shit-ton of money” (not a direct quote).

So this guy essentially trademarked laziness and is hailed as a parenting genius because it is now an official parenting method that parents can point to when they don’t feel like changing their kids’ diapers every time it cries. He calls letting a baby cry it out until it goes hoarse and dehydrates itself, “self-soothing.”  All of these lazy  Ferby parents practice “Ferberizing” their kids, which means they let the baby scream its head off while they enjoy a glass of wine in front of the TV, as they fucking should. Parenting is hard work and they deserve a break. Screw that dramatic baby and all its screaming. Call its bluff.

Since learning about this guy, I am a devoted Ferby, and have been Ferberizing everything. When my husband asks me if I can help out by doing some laundry, I just ignore him until he gets angry, then I scream “SELF SOOTHE!!!”. When I go to yoga class and just sit on my yoga mat drinking wine out of my sippy cup, I ignore my instructor’s repeated requests for me to participate, and then when she orders me to leave class, I just whisper, “shhh shhh….self soothe”. This method works in virtually any situation. I encourage you to try it at work. Don’t do any work and ignore your manager’s requests to finish any projects that are due and, if he or she threatens to write you up, just calmly ask them to self-soothe.

Namaste Juice

Namaste Juice

I decided to Ferberize Olive when she started this new “barking for attention” act of hers, which has been surprisingly difficult. Adult dogs have WAY more stamina and staying power than newborn infants. I’m not a parent, but I would have to imagine that, at some point, the baby eventually stops screaming out of fear of popping a blood vessel in its eye, or at least loses its will to live and love, and just gives up and retreats into itself. Not a dog, no way. They are not gifted with any sort of rationale and, as it turns out, will bark for hours on end. Which makes Ferberizing them very difficult. But I’ve hung in there….until Sharon came.

Sharon is the back injury that I incurred earlier this week, and that bitch has had me on bed rest ever since. I named my back injury “Sharon” because it gives me a more tangible thing at which to be annoyed. But Sharon has also cost me my patience. The day after I first got Sharon, I was exhausted because I got virtually no sleep the night before, from all of the pain. So I was laying on the couch, in terrible pain, totally tired, and trying to sleep. I had just finally started to doze off, when Olive started one of her barking marathons.

“No…not this time…I can’t take it,” I pleaded with her. But she just kept on barking away, without a care in the world. After about 20 minutes, with her still barking strong, I said more firmly, “Olive! Today is NOT the day to do this, knock it off!”. She still kept going. 30 seconds later, it happened:


Olive stopped barking. I’m sure because my screaming startled her, but I was convinced it was because I had just damaged her psyche by calling her a whore. I felt so terrible that I hobbled out of bed and over to her, then picked her up and brought her on the couch with me. I was sure that letting her sleep with me would somehow rectify the terrible emotional abuse I had just inflicted upon her. Of course, on her end, it just looked like her incessant barking paid off. And so the cycle continues.

So there it is, my moment of weakness and terrible dog ownership. I’m still not sure if my harsh words will have any lasting effect on Olive. I don’t know if she will have a bright future as planned, or if she will end up on the pole. But I will forge ahead and try to control my hateful words in the future.

For the record, this Dr. Ferber has written nothing that I can find about how to recover after calling your baby a whore.


3 thoughts on “The Ferber Method: Letting Your Dog Bark it Out

  1. Dogs just don’t do Ferber well. Your dog might EAT Ferber, first chewing him to bits, then swallowing the chunky parts. I’d be careful. Ferber might want to be careful too. If he is dead, check those bones in the back yard…. Dogs tends not to discriminate!

    Sorry to hear about your new BFF Sharon. I once had a HELLA back issue, and it took years to recover. I am not trying to depress you, but here is what I learned:

    1. Move slow, but KEEP moving. My sister had the same issue, after the damm fooled Tom girl lept out of a pickup truck one day, and had a slip landing. She learned that occasional pain pills, slow walks with a stick, not feeling sorry for yourself, and being more stubborn than your dog … helps.

    2. When doing anything, be careful. Do it slowly, carefully, and have a cane, stick, or other thing nearby to use to get up. But keep doing stuff.

    3. Swearing at it, under your breath does help. I’d give examples, but, well, it might pollute a young lady like you.

    4. Heat might work, cold might work. Either might work. But finding out which, will hurt, because one of them will likely not help….

    5. Hang in there. Do not do stupid things, like lift stuff. Do not bend over suddenly.

    Take care.

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