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How Can I Resolve a Dog Barking Problem?

Is your dog barking too much?

It's normal and natural for dogs to bark. But when barking happens a lot, or goes on for a long time, it can be annoying and upsetting for your neighbors. If you're out a lot or you're just used to the noise, you might not realize just how bad it is.

This leaflet is designed to help you work with your neighbors to sort out any problems caused by your dog barking without having to involve the authorities. It will also help understand why your dog barks, and tell you about some practical steps you can take to stop or cut down the barking.

As the dog owners you need to the reason why your dog is barking, if you can't do this the Police Department may have to get involved and you could face a citations with penalties.

Talking it over

If the noise your dog is making is upsetting your neighbors, the first step is to talk things over with them. Stay calm, and try to see it from their point of view; perhaps they're working shifts, or have a baby and/or small children. Bear in mind that they might be worried about whether the dog is okay and remember, you might not know how serious the problem is if your dog is barking more when you're not home.

Understanding the problem

Ask your neighbor to tell you exactly when your dog is barking, and for how long. If you're out a lot, ask them to note down the times when the dog is barking. If you're in, make a note yourself. Think about using a web cam or video camera to find out what your dog is doing when you're not there, or try a setup, pretend that you're going out for the day, then wait outside the door to see what your dog does, If he starts barking and howling, go back in and tell him firmly to be quite. Punishing your dog will only make things worse.

First steps

There are some simple steps you can take to cut down the amount of noise your dog is making. This will help you calm the situation between you and your neighbors, and give you time to work out why your dog is barking.

  • If your dog barks at things outside don't let him outside on his own. Keep him away from windows, so he can't see people or other animals.
  • If your dog bards at the same time every day, like when people are in the house getting ready for work or school, try and keep him busy during that time.
  • Try to keep your dog calm, if he gets excited. Don't play with your dog late at night.
  • If your dog's barking and you're in an apartment, try and keep him away from any walls you share with your neighbors.
  • Don't leave your dog outside barking when he wants in.
  • See if you can get a friend or relative to look after your dog when you're not home, or see if you can take him with you.
  • Make sure your dog gets exercise before you go out. A tired dog barks less.

Long Term Solutions

Some general rules

Be consistent, every time your dog is quite when he would normally have barked, praise him or give him a treat. When he barks, tell him firmly to no or be quiet, use the same command every time. You also need to remember that your dog is part of the family. If he only barks when you leave, bring him inside. Leave some toys, chews or leave a radio on quietly. If your dog is distressed, keep him inside with you whenever your home, dogs are pack animals they need company.

Tackling specific problems

  • Problem; your dog is clingy and howls or whines when left alone.
  • Solution; a vet, animal behaviorist or animal control officer may be able to tell you how to help your dog get used to being on its own.
  • Problem: Your dog is frightened, he might look scared (ears back, tail low) have trouble settling or trying to hide.
  • Solution: if your dog likes hiding, make a den for him. If he's scared of noise, mask it by putting the radio on quietly. If he's frightened of other people or animals, shut the curtains or doors. Think about talking to a vet or an animal behaviorist.
  • Problem: Your dog guards his territory by barking at people, animals, or cars.
  • Solution: Keep your dog away from the front of the house or apartment. Screen your windows, if he starts barking outside, call him in right away. You could ask a vet or animal behaviorist about behavior therapy.
  • Problem; your dog is barking to get attention.
  • Solution; Look at your dog, then look away to show you're respond. Don't give him any attention, or anything else, while she is barking. Try deliberately ignoring him for 20-30 minutes two or three times a day, and get everyone in the house to do the same thing. Doing this for 15 minutes before you go out can help stop your dog barking when you leave. A vet or animal behaviorist may be able to give you more advice.
  • Problem: You went out without taking your dog for a walk and he's barking thought frustration.
  • Solution: Wear different clothes for walking your dog; Leave your dog's lead where he can see it. So if you're leaving without taking the lead, the dog will know that he's not going with you.

Keep your neighbors informed about what you're doing to stop the barking.

What not to do

  • Don't punish your dog. He might mistake it for attention and it could also make him more anxious.
  • Don't use mechanical devices, like anti bark collars; it could make the dog even more anxious.
  • Don't get a second dog unless you're sure it's going to make your dog feel more secure, not less.

If the problem doesn't get resolved

If you don't take steps to solve the problem, and your local authority receives complaints about the noise your dog is making, the authority will investigate the complaint. The local authorities may seek to resolve the problem by mediating between you and the complainants or when such mediation is unsuccessful and the authority is satisfied that the noise amounts to a statutory nuisance, they can serve you with a citation.