Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
Barking Mad Part 3
All the people who contact me about their neighbours barking dogs are, to say the least annoyed, or at worst, seeking retribution by many and varied methods. Having suffered night after night of trying to sleep, punctuated by barking dogs that neither the owner nor the authorities will do anything to help, must be maddening.
I suspect we all can feel certain that if it were those in authority to have the same problem, they would use the full weight of the law against the offending owner.
If there is no help available for ordinary people, then what can we do for ourselves to combat the problem. Not a lot would be the probable answer, but understanding as to why dogs bark by both those that suffer from such noise and the offending owners, would be a major start in trying to solve the problem.
Initially we can split such barking dog owners into two categories. The first are those that leave their dogs alone to bark, yet are quiet once the owner returns. Then there are those who must suffer from deafness, as surely their dogs barking must annoy them as well.
For those that suffer the problem, there are people or a group all complaining about one particular dog. Then there are those who, for one reason or another, just cannot put up with the racket when others may feel the sound is not too bad. An example could be someone having personal stress so; even a quiet barking dog is just the last straw.
When I first went to my surgeon about my snoring, his first question was were my wife and I getting along ok. Sometimes when a partnership is not running well, even the occasional snore can seem a major problem. Mind you, after my first test at sleeping at the hospital, they could see her point.
My father told me never criticise someone’s religion, politics, family or their pets. To do so will usually create confrontation. That is fine, but what if the dog’s owner does not want to listen to your friendly plea.
I have heard of annoyed neighbours hosing the dogs down when ever they barked. Banging things or throwing things at the dogs. Some people even thought of creating escape places so that the dogs would run away. I heard of people recording the dogs barking during the day. When the owners returned, they placed a stand-alone speaker next to the boundary fence and replayed it for the owners. We now have the ultrasonic devises that when a dog barks it instantly sends out a 120-decibel sound that only dogs can hear. This is supposed to hurt their sensitive hearing making them stop. Some such devises not only send the sound for the dogs, but also add an audible one that the owners can hear as well.
The problem with such methods is that they are an escalation of warfare. Where the neighbours who have suffered the barking have not had any success with help from the authorities, yet may find themselves prosecuted on behalf of the dog’s owners. It is for these reasons if you show you have examined every legal avenue, you may avoid this happening.
It is possible that the police could arrive to tell someone to switch of his speaker or audible sonic device. They may not take any action if they learn it is only giving back to the dog’s owner some of their own medicine. It is then possible they will just tell both parties to sort something out between them. Revenge often leaves a bitter taste. So where is there common ground?
First dogs do not naturally bark incessantly. Whilst it is part of their language as a juvenile and so prone to vocalisations in their frozen junior state, continual barking is unnatural. Winston for instance barks at the gate whenever someone is coming into the centre. This is a happy bark as he is looking forward to meeting people and play with their dogs. He is excited and wants attention. Once I arrive at the gate, in order for me to talk and in consideration of the neighbours, I put a citronella collar on him in order to switch him off. The fortnight I ran out of batteries, he quickly realised they did not work anymore so; he would not shut up for ages.
However, like many other doggy people, I like dogs to enjoy themselves when they are here. There maybe some initial barking at the beginning of a class but normally they soon quieten down. Barking in such circumstances is dogs showing they are happy, but any overly prolonged barking would drive most neighbours to seek some form of reprisal.
For instance, out in the country where a dog would bark at every occasional stranger, in built up areas that would seem to mean dogs would bark more often. This is not the case. Yes, some dogs do bark at anything and everything but again this is not normal for a dog. Once more, using Winston as an example, he does not bark at everyone or wagons, cars, or scooters that pass by the gates. He barks if he recognises a car that he knows is coming here or people he sees are coming to the gate and ringing the bell. Again, this is not the prolonged type of barking that people complain about.
Whilst during the day, people may stand more barking than at night time. When people are trying to relax and enjoy the evening, a continual barking dog is certainly unpopular. Imagine trying to hold a conversation in your garden and every time you speak, the next-door dog barks at your words. Is that a dog doing its job at guarding its owner’s property?
It is pointless to set security lights to come on for ten minutes when someone moves in your garden at night-time. This is because the person will have taped up the sensor so they will never come on again. Set them for only ten seconds, then anyone trying to interfere with the lights will make them flash, attracting people to see what is happening. Similarly, no one will bother looking if the dog barks all the time.
The barking that has a long-term duration is nearly always due to stress of one form or another. A dog that is scared of being on its own when the owner has gone to work (separation anxiety stress) is very common. A dog barking at everyone or anything that nears its property or dogs that bark at any noise at nighttime is suffering from fear related stress. This sort of constant barking is not normal for dogs. For one reason or another, it has learnt that this is what it has to do to try to reduce its stress levels. A guard dog barking all the time is a much-stressed dog. It is certainly not enjoying life.
If both complainant and dog owner can understand this, then letting a dog bark continually, is not being kind and no owner would wish to be cruel to their dogs.
If someone diplomatically tells you your dog is constantly barking for seemingly no valid reason, don’t shoot the messenger; instead call someone like me.