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Barking Dogs

Barking dogs are the most common complaint made to Council each year. All dogs bark, but some dogs can bark continuously, often becoming a neighbourhood nuisance and greatly reducing quality of life for surrounding neighbours.
Ongoing barking is often a symptom of another problem and taking time to understand what makes dogs bark - especially your pet or other dogs in your neighbourhood - is the first step towards solving this problem.

Why dogs bark:

  • Dogs are social animals and often bark when they are lonely.
  • Separation from an owner can cause dogs stress
  • Barking may also be the result of boredom and frustration
  • Barking is a dog's way of seeking attention from its owner
  • Dogs can bark out of fear- this can be fear of people, objects or other dogs
  • Dogs bark when there is a threat to their territory
  • Playing with your dog often stimulates barking
  • Some breeds have a reputation for barking

Controlling the barking

The first, most important step is to work out why your dog is barking. Once you know the symptom, you can find the cure. Barking can be controlled through several small behavioural changes, such as walking your dog twice a day to relieve boredom.

Dogs are social animals and require a certain amount of interaction on a daily basis. If your dog barks when you are away from the premises it is probably due to loneliness. An easy way of combating this is to provide your pet with stimulants such as balls and chew toys to keep them occupied while you are away. It can also be handy to leave a radio on and to leave something that belongs to you, such as an old shoe.

Another option is to allow your dog access to one room inside your home where there are odours relating to you. This can relax your dog. Or, try giving your dog a bone when you leave the house. This will teach your dog that when you leave there is a positive outcome.

A fence that is correctly designed to restrict your dog's vision could also help reduce barking. Obedience training and discipline are also very important when trying to stop a barking problem. A dog can be trained to be alone and to bark only on command.

My neighbour's dog barks - what can I do?

Talk to your neighbour as soon as the problem arises. They may not be aware that their dog barks or that their dog's barking is bothering you. Give your neighbour this information and if the barking persists after a week or two, speak with your neighbour again to provide feedback.

If your neighbour is unapproachable, or does not agree that a problem exists, it would be advantageous to contact the Dispute Resolution Centre on 1800 681 109 or to arrange a mediation session to assist in resolving the issue.

If meditation is unable to resolve the issue, the Council may be contacted for further advice.

Handy Hints for Barking Dogs

Noise pollution and your dog

Barking is a dog's natural means of communication and often signifies alertness to danger. This makes it useful, even to owners of adjoining properties, if burglars or other intruders and/or fire are the reasons for its alarm. If a dog backs continuously for other reasons, the causes are varied:

  • Chaining the dog to a fixed point with insufficient movement, or restricting the dog to a small area for long periods of time.
  • Deliberate or unintentional provocation by roaming dogs
  • Lack of reasonable exercise
  • Lack of training
  • No kennel or suitable shelter from bad weather
  • Loneliness
  • Unsuitable or insufficient diet or lack of sufficient water in hot weather
  • Ill health
  • Competition with other dogs or species, especially in boarding kennels where large numbers of dogs are involved and there is inadequate separation between animals

How to care for your dog

Most of these causes of barking can, and should, be eliminated. Attention to one or several of the following remedies does not take much time and will eliminate many troubles;

  • Provide enough space for your dog to move freely in your enclosed backyard. A dog should not be left on a fixed chain for long periods as this induces savagery and often increases nuisance from barking. It also creates odour problems. If a dog has to be chained, it should be on a unning chain (these are simple to construct)
  • Give your dog its own space such as a ventilated and waterproof kennel or room indoors. A dog kept in an enclosed area at night usually does not bark.
  • Walking your dog keeps you and your dog fit. The amount of exercise a dog requires needed depends on its size and breed. For safety in public places exercise your dog on a leash.
  • Your dog will accept kind but firm discipline. Take it to a good obedience training school when young and you will enjoy the benefits.
  • A balanced and varied diet is necessary. Main meals should consist of processed meat and dried dog food, supplemented by vitamins and minerals. Keep feeding hours regular and the supply of fresh water steady. The evening meal of meat should be given between 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm
  • Your dog may suffer from fleas, worms, distemper, cuts or bruises. Daily examination, regular baths and veterinary attention when necessary will alleviate pain or irritation.
  • In boarding situations, provide one run per animal and partition each run so that direct line of sight is eliminated, thus avoiding competition between animals.

In all these areas your dog will respond to your care. Proper and effective control will help it to adjust to the requirements of crowded living areas, thus reducing, if not eliminating nuisance problems.

Curing the continual barking habit

If, after reading the previous section on "How to care for your dog" you decide that your dog is well cared for, there remains a number if remedies that may be tried to subdue barking:

  • Eliminate direct line-of-sight vision between the dog and children or other animals by erecting a fence, or other opaque barrier.
  • Take the dog to a recognised animals trainer for specialist attention. Such trainers have methods which can discourage bad habits without harming the animal in any way.
  • Provide noise insulation for the kennel

The RSPCA has done much to make the public aware of the need to prevent cruelty to animals. Don't forget however, that the continual barking can constitute cruelty to people. Help prevent cruelty to everyone by reducing the noise of barking dogs to a level that is only unavoidable, acceptable or desirable.