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31 Jan 2006

Constant barking of neighbours dogs
Could anyone give me some advice on what to do about the constant barking of my neighbours dogs, I do not approve of drastic measures!
Answer 6,420 views
Expert
CyberVet

01 Jan 0001

Hi Dog lover

Here is some information below regarding barking dogs. The biggest thing you should look at is the boredom and frustration factor. You could spray them with water if they constantly bark, but they must not see it coming from you (that is if you can get close enough). You can approach the neighbours and ask them to assist the dogs with the boredom. If it is anxiety related, they should get an accredited animal behaviourist to assist them with the problem. Goto www.animal-behaviour.org. You should find someone in your area.

Regards
CDV
Animal Behaviourist

BARKING DOGS

If you have a neighbour that is complaining about your dog barking, please remember to not get angry. Get the neighbour involved in how to solve your problem. Firstly, ask the neighbour if they are able to do a schedule for 1 week. What you need in the schedule is the following:
• time, date of dog barking
• possible causes
• is it directly after owner leaves for work and then stops
• is it the whole day/night at absolutely nothing, etc

When you have some of this information, you are able to get a quicker solution. This is a big reason why you want your neighbours to assist you. Do not put yourself if the position of getting threatening letters, etc.

If you have someone as a neighbour and their dog is barking, you can do exactly the same for them. Try and be polite about this issue. People can be very sensitive regarding complaints about their loved ones. Another important thing is to always go and look why the dog is barking. Barking is an important communication tool and it might just be something that the dog is warning you about.

There are a few reasons why dogs bark.
The dog may bark due to boredom, stress, anxiety, confinement, lack of stimulation, people passing the house, cats, etc.

If the dogs suffer from anxiety, stress or boredom, an accredited animal behaviourist is needed to assess and assist the owners. I have not put any solutions on this information, due to the fact that not one thing will work for all dogs.

If you have any further queries or input, please do not hesitate to contact me.


EXCESSIVE BARKING
Let’s face it, dogs bark! It would be very unusual if your dog never barked. Barking and howling are natural ways
that dogs express fear, anxiety, excitement or pleasure.
WHEN IS BARKING EXCESSIVE
Barking is usually seen as excessive when the neighbours start to complain. The problem is working out whether you have intolerant neighbours or whether their complaints are legitimate. As owners are often out or do not notice their dog barking, it is a good idea to ask all the neighbours to record the barking on a copied form. If they are being unreasonable then it may put them off. Other neighbours’ input may also be useful in this case. If they have a legitimate cause for complaint the form will let them know that you are doing something about it. They will also get the opportunity to assist you in finding out the cause of the barking.
THE LEGALITIES:
If a neighbour complains to the police you may be fined for disturbing the peace. If you pay the fine you admit guilt and are then obliged to do something about the barking. If you do not pay the fine your neighbours may get together and summons. You are then expected to provide for your defence in a criminal case. My advice is to try from the beginning to remain on good terms with your neighbours, apologising for the disturbance and informing them of your intentions to deal with the problem. Their help and understanding may be essential in curing an excessive barker. Desperate neighbour have been known to poison or even shoot dogs that are driving them mad.
IF YOU’RE THE NEIGHBOUR:
Let the dog owner know that his dog is barking excessively as he may not even be aware of it. A record of barking times may help. Give him your name and number so that your neighbour can contact you, if necessary. Never threaten, shout or stare at the dog as this will increase the barking in the long run. Try throwing a few cow hooves or other chewy toys over the wall when the dog has been barking. They are inexpensive and help to alleviate the dog’s stress and boredom, thus reducing the barking. Remember that dogs can be an asset to your community, acting as an early warning system and deterrent to crime. Even small dogs, is well socialised and adapted, will react to unusual noises or behaviour, not only on their own territory, but on their neighbours’ too.
CAUSES OF EXCESSIVE BARKING:
• Separation anxiety: If your dog only barks excessively when you are out or asleep then it is most likely due to separation anxiety. This is usually caused by over-indulgence or incorrect communication patterns which make your dog insecure and dependent on you.
• Loneliness: Dogs are pack animals and need company for most of the day.
• Boredom: Dogs, especially young ones, need their minds to be kept busy. If they are under-stimulated they may start to manipulate their owner, neighbour or other dogs by barking. Some bored dogs even start to hallucinate, chasing and barking at imaginary prey.
• Miscommunication: Your dog may actually6 think you want him to bark because you join in by shouting at him.
• Teasing: If a dog has been teased or taunted at the gate or by a visitor he may see every visitor or passer-by as a threat.
• Discomfort: Pain, cold or hunger may cause a dog to bark. Arthritis, anal gland trouble or teeth problems are three common causes of pain resulting in behaviour problems. If a dog is left outside in winter he may begin to bark, especially if he realises his owner may let him in if he continues long enough. Hunger can cause a dog to go into hunting mode which can result in destructiveness, hyperactive behaviour or barking.
• Over-stimulation and over-excitement: Dogs that bark in the car or while being trained may yip excitedly and constantly, annoying their owners, who may join in by shouting “Keep quiet!”.
• The moon: Some dogs do howl at the full moon which seems to be a pleasurable instinctive behaviour.
TREATING EXCESSIVE BARKING:
Some tips to reduce barking:
• Make sure your dog has the company of another dog, cat, human or even bird for most of the day. Take your dog for short, calm walks on a long, loose lead once a day. Give him a view out of your property so he can see, hear and smell the traffic. Give your dog lots of chewy toys and some special ones when you go out. Allow your dog inside the house as much as possible. A dog door is ideal.
• Don’t shout at your dog if he barks. Either ignore it or, if absolutely necessary, distract him with a toy or a sudden noise. This must be done in such a way that your dog does not see it as a reward, so avoid eye contact and touching your dog. You can also try walking away and slamming the door behind you.
• If you suspect your dog has been teased you can work on getting him to make friends with the visitors or passers-by. A good idea is to take yo0ur dog for a walk on a long. Loose lead when people pass, encouraging them to say hello to your dog or even give him treats. Visitors can also be told to ignore your dog and perhaps drop treats for him. If your dog is no longer fearful of these people the barking will be reduced.
• Have your dog’s health checked by your veterinarian. Make sure he’s warm and comfortable at night and has shade and shelter during the day.
• Separation anxiety can be remedied by giving you dog toys to play with when you go out and leaving the radio or television on. Ignore your dog for 15 minutes before you go out and when you arrive. Then you can greet him calmly once he has calmed down. Generally give your dog less attention so that when you are out it’s not such a shock for him. Try only giving him attention when he comes to you and looks at you.
• If your dog barks or howls at night you can easily solve this by allowing him to sleep inside.
• If your dog barks a lot while you are at home, try calling him in a pleasant voice, then giving him a treat when he comes, thus rewarding him for stopping barking. This could change the pattern of behaviour.

DEBARKING:
This is a surgical procedure in which your dog’s voice box can be removed. It is painless, as it is done under anaesthetic, and results in your dog’s voice being reduced to a “whisper”. Although the operation is often seen as inhumane and does not remove the cause of the behaviour, or even the behaviour itself, it may be the only way to save your dog’s life. As a last resort, debarking may be the answer to a bad habit.

BARKING DOGS – CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS:
TEACHING DOGS “SPEAK” AND “NO SPEAK”
Louise Thompson (©®™)
Noise pollution is one of the most common problems experienced with certain breeds of dogs today especially with owners and pets living in cluster homes or complexes. Dog noise pollution is a major factor of modern living and can lead to costly legal bills and major disagreements with frustrated neighbours who have endured sleepless nights and have a desperate need for some peace and quiet! There is nothing more frustrating that trying to have a quiet Sunday nap, or being wakened up in the middle of the night by yapping mutts! Caring pet owners have been known to relocate, in order to protect their dogs and themselves from prosecution and to achieve harmonious living with neighbours!

In many municipalities there are laws governing the amount of “acceptable” noise that is produced by dogs. Several legal warnings are usually given and if not treated or if the barking does not improve, owners may even be required by law to get rid of their beloved pet! In some complexes there are clauses in the lease in this regard and governing bodies have legal recourse to enforce dog owner’s compliance.

The most common breeds that exhibit this unwanted behaviour are toy or miniature breeds like the Dachshund, Miniature Schnauzer, Yorkshire Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, SA Maltese “Poodle” (which is in fact part terrier) Miniature Pincher, Toy Pomeranians etc. In fact most terriers are prone to yapping if there behaviour is not moulded or shaped and/or redirected from an early age

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN APPROACHING THE BARKING ISSUE!
• Try to establish the cause: Is the dog is barking in the garden – either at the moon (Looney moon boredom bark …) or as a long, or short range communication with neighbourhood dogs, or is he barking to demand attention (to be let inside or to get his own way), or because it is excitement when playing, or due to the dog suffering from stress and anxiety etc?
• You also need to take into account the frustration level of the dog. Does he receive enough of your time? Does he have enough exercise off the property (walks runs)? Does he receive enough mental stimulation? Does he have anything to do when you are absent from the home or asleep at night (chews, bones, cow hooves etc)? All of the above can also have a bearing on the dog’s noise pollution levels!

RULES FOR BARKING DOGS AND WHY DOES MY DOG BARK?
• Barking is a normal behaviour, and is a natural way for dogs to communicate (especially over distance!) It is normal for a dog to bark when someone passes your house, or when the postman comes!
• When this “normal “barking becomes excessive, that is when it presents a problem, as the resulting noise pollution can be a nuisance to family and neighbours alike.
• Barking can also be an expression of frustration and confinement stress (un-socialised yard dogs kept in permanent solitary confinement) It can be a way for your dog to let you know that he is stressed, unhappy, anxious, bored, or just plain fed up! It is also a way for them to inform you of any danger
• If the dog is barking in the garden – during the day or at night YOU MUST GO AND CHECK TO SEE IF YOU CAN FIND THE CAUSE OF THE BARKING. THIS MUST APPLY EACH AND EVERY TIME! After all, the dog could be warning you of a prowler or burglar, or a young child having fallen in the swimming pool (there have been many cases of the above examples!)
• Never leave a barking dog just to bark without checking up on him. He could just save you, or a member of your family’s life!
• If the dog is barking outside a door as a demand to be let in, he must only be let in when he is being quiet (even if it is only after a minute or two or silence). Reward the positive and ignore/distract the negative.
• Often dog’s bark as an expression of excitement or hyperactivity – if this is the case for example when playing - the game should stop immediately. It can continue after a couple of minutes or when the dog is quiet, but then the second it gets too excited and the barking commences it must again stop. This will have to be constantly repeated to have a lasting effect.

The most common causes of excessive barking are:-
• Confinement:
Yard dogs kept in solitary confinement with little or no interaction with their owners.
• Lack of mental and physical stimulation.
• Boredom and mental inactivity
• Inappropriate stimulation: Getting a calm dog “wound up” for fun and family entertainment. It is cute for a while but soon becomes a pain ……
• Neglect and cruel treatment.
• Stress and anxiety
• Lack of confidence and fear related behaviours
• Over-indulgence. The dog that barks to get his own way.
• Attention seeking behaviours.
• The spoilt dog brat – syndrome!

Often the easiest way to teach a dog not to perform an inappropriate behaviour is to teach him to perform the behaviour on command. Barking is a good example of this premise.
Dogs often perform inappropriate behaviour to receive attention from their owners! From a dogs point of view the owner’s attention is often one of the most valuable things in his life! It must be remembered that even negative attention (punishment – shouting/smacking/cross face) can be rewarding to a dog, as he is getting what he wants the most – You to respond to him!

WAYS TO SOLVE OR MANAGE THE PROBLEM: - TEACHING, “SPEAK”:
• If you have been punishing the dog for barking – this must STOP IMMEDIATELY!
• This includes both verbal and physical punishment – all must cease immediately.
• Use the basic rule – ignore and distract negative behaviour and only respond and or reward positive behaviour!
• Each and every time the dog barks, smile and give him the command “speak” or “talk” and pop him a tasty treat or titbit.
• Make sure that you always use the same command, in the same tone of voice with identical body language and happy facial expression.
• Initially this should be constantly reinforced and repeated each and every time the dog barks until the dog is actually barking on command.
• Remember the second the dog responds the treat is to be popped into his mouth with a big smile and lots of happy fuss and verbal praise!



TEACHING NO SPEAK – HUSH (SILENCE IS GOLDEN!)
• Once the dog is reliably barking on command and being instantly rewarded for the bark - the next step is to make being quiet rewarding.
• Give the command “Speak” and allow the dog one or two barks.
• Do not treat yet!
• Gently enclose the dogs muzzle in your hands lovingly and softly give the command “Shh – Quiet” The second the dog is silent (and it only has to be for a second in the beginning) pop a treat in his mouth with lots of happy voice praise and a big smile!
• Again as described in the section on “Speak” this has to be continually repeated and reinforced to have a lasting effect.
• Most dogs learn this “game” (and it has to be taught in a non-stressful manner as a game) in a matter of a week or two, and although the barking is not eliminated the barking is controllable! It must be remembered that barking is a natural behaviour - abet an undesirable one.

GADGETS, COLLARS AND QUICK FIXES!
There are also various gadgets and gizmos available to treat inappropriate barking issues.
THERE ARE NO “QUICK FIX SOLUTIONS” TO THIS PROBLEM.
It takes time, patience and effort to modify this behaviour!

Electric shock collar where the dog is shocked on the throat.
The electric shock is triggered by the dogs bark:
I personally believe that this is a cruel and inappropriate device, which can produce untold negative and even dangerous behaviours in dogs. For example if a dog happens to bark and receive a “jolt” at the precise second a young blond little girl walked past him, he could associate that pain and trauma with the little girl. This could develop into a permanent dislike of little blond girl children – which could have disastrous, catastrophic results. PAIN OFTEN IS A TRIGGER FOR AGGRESSION and in some individuals could be enough to trigger an attack!

NOTE:
Under the law in SA it is considered a criminal offence “To attach any device or contraption to an animal that could cause pain or discomfort” The use of these cruel devices could leave you open for prosecution under the animal protection act!

Ultrasonic devices which produce and/or emit high pitched sounds which are unpleasant to dogs: These have been found to be effective for a short period of time only as most dogs become accustomed or desensitised (habituation) to the unpleasant sound within a few weeks!

Citronella collar: If you must go the “gadget road” then these appear to be the most passive and kind, and most successful of all the gadgets, with a good success rate when coupled with the behaviour changes outlined above. The device comprises of a collar with a small battery operated spray container of harmless citronella oil. Each time the dog barks it triggers an electronic impulse and the dog receives a tiny mist spray of this substance. Dogs find it unpleasant, as it is offensive to their olfactory senses (there sense of smell).

It must be noted that the citronella oil collar must be used under strict supervision at all times. The dog should still be permitted to bark at “appropriate” times. It must also be noted that all the “other” needs of the dog must be met, for this tool to be effective.



The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
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