HAVE A DOG THAT WON’T STOP BARKING? AN EXPERT TELLS US 5 WAYS TO CALM IT DOWN
Source: News Observer (Extract)
Posted: August 13, 2023
Raleigh is known for many things. It’s the capital of North Carolina, the “City of Oaks.” And now, a study has found that it might be known for something else: barking dogs.
The study was commissioned by Regional Foundation Repair, a home basement repair company that looked at different topics on the Nextdoor app, including how often people discussed barking in their neighborhood. The analysis included over 50,000 posts and 350,000 comments on the app.
Out of the 50 most populous cities in the United States, Raleigh had the highest number of barking complaints.
“In Raleigh, 13% of all the posts mentioned barking,” said Matt Zajechowski, a spokesperson for the study. “The city that was number two on here (Oakland, California) was only at 5%. So, Raleigh was double the city that was second on the list.”
When someone has a barking complaint in Raleigh, the call goes to Raleigh Police Department. According to RPD, there have been over 2,600 animal noise complaint calls in the past three years.
The police department doesn’t have guidance available online for how animal noise complaints are handled, but the City of Raleigh’s web page lists noise as a public nuisance.
CAN MY DOG’S BARKING GET ME IN TROUBLE?
The code says that it is against the law to own an animal that “disturbs the quiet” of any person through frequent sounds. This includes animals that persistently cry, howl, bark, squawk or meow.
According to the code, anyone who violates this ordinance can face civil penalties or be charged with a misdemeanor. The civil penalties are per violation and can range from $100 to $300.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR DOG FROM BARKING CONSTANTLY
If you’re worried about your dog’s noise levels causing a nuisance, there’s ways to prevent them from barking excessively.
The News & Observer spoke with Dr. Mary Burch, an animal behaviorist and family dog director at the American Kennel Club, to see which methods work best.
▪ First, you have to understand why they are barking.
Burch said there can be plenty of reasons why dogs bark, and the prevention trick you use depends on what type of barking they’re doing.
The four most common reasons a dog barks are to:
1. Alert. Like if a stranger is at the front door.
2. Communicate. Either to you (such as wanting to go outside) or to another dog.
3. Excitement. Like you would see when playing a game with them or if they are reacting to a moving object.
4. Separation. When they are left alone.
Barking prevention strategies for when you are at home
Burch said some dogs use barking as a way to react to moving objects such as cars, vacuum cleaners or even other dogs. She said this barking can be controlled by using treats to teach your dog how to do the following.
▪ Bark on cue: When you notice your dog barking at an object, wait for them to stop. After they are quiet, say the command “quiet” out loud and reward them a treat. But “whatever you do, don’t give the dog the food reward when it is barking,” Burch said. It’s important not to do this, because you are trying to associate an activity that is incompatible with barking (like sitting quietly) with the reward.
▪ Sit and watch: This tip is particularly useful if your dog is barking at a household object like a vacuum cleaner. When you start vacuuming, sit your dog on the other side of the room. After your dog stops barking, go over to them and say a command like “good boy, quiet” and give them a treat. Over time, Burch said your dog should be able to get closer to the vacuum cleaner or other items without constantly barking.
Barking prevention strategies for when your dog is alone
It’s unavoidable. You have to go to work, buy groceries or a number of other situations where you have to leave your dog home by themselves. In response, your dog barks awaiting your return, possibly disturbing your neighbors.
Dr. Burch said a common suggestion for separation barking is to turn a television or radio segment on to help them calm down.
“If you try this and it works, you are lucky,” she said. “It is an easy solution (but), unfortunately the television and radio solutions don’t often work.”
What does work is finding out why your dog is barking, and shaping your prevention strategies around that.
▪ Excitement? If your dog goes to the window to bark at people walking down the street or squirrels digging for acorns in your backyard, try keeping the curtains closed.
▪ Boredom? Try an interactive dog toy. Those that make your dog solve puzzles to win a treat are pretty effective.
▪ Separation anxiety? Set up training sessions with a certified specialist. And if you don’t know exactly why your dog is barking, Burch said setting up a camera might help you find out.
WHAT IF A NEIGHBOR’S DOG IS BARKING?
If you’ve been kept awake at night or apologized in a call for barking that isn’t even in your backyard, you might be wondering if there are prevention strategies for stopping your neighbor’s dog from barking.
Here’s what to try.
1. Start a conversation
Burch said she first recommends talking it out with your neighbor and alerting them to the problem.
“The neighbor might not know her dog barks all day when she is gone,” Burch said. “Or if the dog is outside all night, the owners may not realize you can hear it.”
2. File a nuisance complaint
If you and your neighbor can’t come to an agreement, you could report the noise to the local police department. To file a noise complaint with RPD, call (919) 831-6311.
Burch suggests also recording the barking to go along with your report.
3. Try technology
Burch said purchasing an anti-barking device could also be a possible solution. “(These devices) send out a powerful tone that is high-pitched,” she said. “Dogs learn that if they are quiet, they won’t have to hear this annoying sound.”
But she said they also come with a downside. If there’s multiple dogs in a neighborhood, the sound could be heard by dogs who aren’t causing the barking problem.
BEST TIP: ‘A TIRED DOG IS A HAPPY DOG’
Overall, Burch said the best solution to help prevent your dog from barking excessively is a combination of training and involving them in activities for their mental well-being. This includes regular exercise and enrolling them in programs where they can socialize with other dogs and people.
“There is a saying that a tired dog is a happy dog,” she said.
“Your dog might be more likely to relax and rest peacefully (minus barking) if it is provided with training that results in mental stimulation and exercise. A skilled trainer or animal behaviorist can help you if you are not having success on your own.”
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