“Help! I just received a barking complaint.”
We get messages like this quite frequently and know how stressful barking complaints can be. This is mainly due to the fact that most owners who receive such complaints are completely unaware that their dog is barking excessively.
Most dogs bark when their owners are at work, and so the first time the issue is brought to attention is a note in the mailbox or an anonymous council complaint. Although stressful, don’t panic – dog barking can be resolved.
How much barking is too much?
Most dogs bark, but some become an incredible nuisance, greatly reducing their neighbour’s quality of life (and sleep!). Councils generally have guidelines as to the amount of barking per hour that is deemed acceptable. For instance, Brisbane City Council permits up to 6 minutes of barking per hour between the hours of 7 am and 10 pm. Between 10 pm and 7 am, up to three minutes of barking in any half hour period is considered acceptable.
I’ve received a complaint – what now?
If you receive a barking complaint your first task is to establish whether your dog is, in fact, exceeding the acceptable levels for your particular council area. There are various ways to ascertain how much your dog is actually barking:
- 1. Set up a tape recorder when you go out (make sure that it is voice activated so that you don’t have to listen to 10 hours of tape).
- Install a voice activated digital recorder app on your smartphone or tablet. Set it to record when you leave for the day.
- Install a surveillance camera that can be accessed remotely via a smartphone.
- Ask one of your neighbours to keep an ear out and report on the frequency & volume of barking.
Why is my dog barking?
If you have taken the above steps and found that your dog is barking beyond the acceptable guidelines, then the problem needs to be addressed. Consistent barking is – more often than not – symptomatic of another problem. There are a number of reasons why your dog may bark, these include:
- Attention seeking
- As a reaction to sights and sounds
- In response to a perceived threat to their territory
- Separation anxiety
Your dog’s reason for barking may also be apparent from the voice activated recording or neighbor feedback. For example, it may coincide with the sound of the postman, might occur after other neighbourhood dogs have barked, or may commence from the moment you leave the house. If your recorder has a timestamp function, then the 3pm mark might indicate that passing school kids cause your dog to bark.
How to stop your dog from barking
Incorporating some small changes into your routine may make an enormous difference to your dog’s barking habits.
Walking your dog at least once a day and increasing the amount of interaction they receive with the family may help to relieve boredom and reduce attention seeking behaviour.
Provide your pet with environmental enrichment such as balls and chew toys to keep them occupied while you are away. It can also be handy to leave a radio on or give them something with your scent to put them at ease.
If you are happy to do so, let your dog inside the house to remove them from environmental factors that may be causing barking behaviours. This can also help to diffuse surrounding noises and soften any barking that does fall on your neighbours’ ears.
Similarly, having a fence that is designed to restrict your dog’s visibility may help decrease visual stimulation that could lead them to bark.
Shock collars – should I buy one?
In short – absolutely not. Shock collars only mask the problem and are a cruel, quick “fix” that can in fact lead to unwanted aggression and anxiety. There is always another solution, if you are having problems with your dog barking and have tried all the above suggestions, feel free to contact us to enquire about our bark control services.