How to Cure Nuisance Barking and Noise Complaints by Dr Elaine Cebuliak

Barking dogs are the biggest form of noise complaints in any neighbourhood. It may not be your dog; it could be the dogs in your neighbourhood. Here are a few suggestions on how to reduce barking dog noise to an acceptable level.

Why Do Dogs Bark? As pet owners, we tend to think of dogs excessively barking as an annoyance, but there are various reasons why dogs bark as well as using several different types of barking to communicate their meaning. Here are the most common examples of barking:

Anxiety: Dogs with high anxiety levels may bark when they are left alone or are afraid of loud noises like fireworks and thunder.

Attention-seeking behaviour: Dogs may bark for interaction when you are engaged in another activity, such as working on the computer or interacting with people.

Territorial aggression: Dogs will bark at windows, fences, people, other animals, and cars that go by.

Resources: Dogs may also bark when they need resources such as food, water or need to eliminate. Excessive barking can be considered a nuisance—especially from your neighbours!

Knowing why your dog is barking is key to modifying the undesired behaviour. Partner with your veterinarian or an animal behaviourist to help determine the cause of your dog’s vocalisations and determine the best approach to behaviour modification. Positive reinforcement is always the preferred method of behaviour modification, which includes distracting your dog while he is barking with a treat or praise, or through clicker training, which is a small noisemaker used to reinforce a desired behaviour. The use of bark collars is not recommended as this may cause the dog to become fearful and may initiate other undesirable behaviours.

5 Easy steps to help reduce barking dog complaints:

1. Look at the reason the dog is barking and take note of the time of day. This will give you a good indication as to the cause. You may be able to remove the cause or leave the dog in an area away from the cause.

2. Entertain and Distract – A dog at home alone will need to be kept mentally active. Why not scatter your dog’s biscuits across the lawn. It’s going to take a bit of time to find breakfast, and he will most likely keep looking and not start barking. Rotate a group of toys to keep them interesting and unique. Create a sandpit or shell and bury some toys for your dog to find.

3. Try blocking off the dog’s view of the street or put up a barrier to move the dog away from streets or footpaths.

4. Engage the services of a home dog walker for a ‘lunch time play time’. A friendly neighbour may be willing to pop over to have a pat. Introduce your dog to the neighbours so your dog is familiar with them and the strange noises they make.

5. Barking dog products. Speak to a specialist about products for retraining barking habits.  Citronella, sonic, static and vibration collars all differ in the way they work. Each dog is different, and so is the reason for the barking so getting the right advice is essential.

That Barking dog next door….there are products available to help control barking dogs next door or around the neighbourhood. The Outdoor Sonic Bark House uses an uncomfortable high-pitched noise to distract the dog from barking. For more information, please call the clinic, tell us a bit about your dog and the barking issue and our behaviourists will be able to assist.

Dr Elaine Cebuliak

Dr Elaine is a highly experienced holistic vet and pioneer of Animal Wellness in Brisbane. She also assists with many charitable projects in Australia and in Bali.

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