Recently on a local community online discussion board, the sometimes touchy topic of barking dogs was raised. The poster said some barking dogs in her neighborhood had become a real problem. She was annoyed by the noise and concerned for the animal’s welfare.
Boy… haven’t we all been there?
Animals, Like Children, Make Noise
The thing is, birds sing, cows moo, cats meow and dogs bark. It’s natural and a normal behavior – and if your dog were more like his wolf ancestors, he would spend a lot of time acquiring his food. He would stalk his prey, run it down and hang on to it before killing and eating it. Wow. That’s work! And he’d probably be too pooped to make a lot of noise.
But that’s not the ‘dog- of-today’ reality. The fact is, we live in a world where we have neighbors with dogs – and sometimes neighbors in very close proximity with more than one dog. For the most part, we tolerate dog noise during daylight hours.
But sometimes the noise (i.e. barking) can be excessive and something needs to be done.
When the Neighbor’s Dog Barks too Much
The first thing you should do is to try communicating with the owner. They may not even realize little Fluffy turns into a hound from hell the moment they leave for work.
If you’re angry and upset, maybe consider leaving a note on their door to avoid starting off on the wrong foot. Note when the barking is at its worst to help your neighbor figure out a cause and a solution.
Meanwhile, be sure and document all instances of barking, including:
- When the barking begins
- How long it lasts,
- Testimony from at least three other neighbors with similar complaints
- Any communication you’ve had with the dog’s owner
If it becomes necessary to report the owner to the Regional animal Services of King County, you will need all the above documentation if there is a hearing.
A noise complaint form can be found on the Regional Animal Services website. After the form is submitted they can help you correct the problem.
When YOUR Dog Barks too Much
But what if the barking dog is yours and the neighbors are getting testy?
I would first work with your neighbor(s) to determine when the problem happens. Is it right when you leave for work? Midday? Right before you get home? Try and remember, your dog has been barking for a long time and there is no immediate fix for this problem.
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, but being left alone during the day with too little stimulation and exercise is probably the most common reason for excessive barking. Other reasons might include barking at people and dogs passing by or a breed inclination to be vocal.
Some quick easy fixes include:
- Bringing a dog inside who spends the day outside
- Hiring a dog walker to come midday to exercise and entertain the dog
- Keeping the dog away from windows where he may see things he feels the need to bark
- Turning on a TV or radio to mask outside noises that might tempt a verbal pooch to chime in with a noisy reply
- Puzzle toys or the Auto Trainer designed by Dr Ian Dunbar to help control problem barking
If your dog is self-harming when home alone, or terribly destructive, it’s time to hire a professional trainer to assess whether or not you have a separation anxiety issue, which is a much thornier issue than just noise – and you need help.
Good Luck and be kind to your neighbors and their pooches. Remember someday it may be you that needs a little help from your fellow residents.