The Borough of Queenscliffe receives many complaints regarding barking dogs. Sometimes you can resolve the issue easily by approaching the dog's owner in a friendly manner and discussing your concerns with them.
Before you approach the dog owner, consider the following points:
- The dog's owner may not realise that the barking is causing an annoyance to other people.
- The dog may only bark excessively when the owner is not at home.
- The owner may not hear the barking from various areas within the house.
- The owner may be a very sound sleeper and not be woken when the dog barks.
Why dogs bark
Barking is a natural thing for dogs to do; it is how they communicate. A problem occurs when the barking becomes excessive, causing a nuisance.
Dogs bark for many reasons. Even when they 'appear to be barking for no reason' they may in fact be trying to communicate something to their owner or anyone who is willing to pay attention.
To work out why a dog is barking, you need to consider life from a dog's point of view. For example, many dogs bark to alert their owners to trouble, such as an intruder entering the property. While the word 'intruder' immediately conjures up an image of a person for us, to a dog an intruder may be a cat, a possum, another dog or even a bird flying across their property. While it is acceptable for a dog to bark to warn its owner that someone is entering the property, it should be trained to ignore such things as birds, cats and neighbour movement/noises.
Other reasons why dogs bark include:
- Lack of exercise
- Inadequate yard space
- Not enough human companionship
- Inadequate shelter from weather conditions
- Hunger or thirst
- Medical condition
- Change to family structure
- Change to territory.
Solutions for barking dogs
Lack of exercise / inadequate yard space / boredom
Dogs become bored when they are confined in a backyard. This problem can be compounded when the yard is small or the dog is kept on a chain or on a run or locked in an enclosure. Dogs like to explore and enjoy new experiences. This problem may be overcome when the dog is treated as a member of the family, included on family outings and taken on regular walks.
Loneliness / lacking human company
Dogs are social animals and enjoy the companionship of other dogs and their human owners. Those that are left for long periods of time without companionship can become discontented or lonely. Dogs need to interact with other dogs and people to keep them stimulated. Dogs that are not permitted to have regular socialisation with other animals and humans can become destructive or fearful or bark excessively as a plea for attention. In the owner's absence, an old jumper containing the owner's scent may comfort the dog. A radio left on inside the house may give the dog the impression that it is not alone on the property. The radio may also help deter potential intruders.
Dogs require shelter from all weather conditions and may cry for attention if they are uncomfortable due to hot, cold, windy or wet weather conditions. They need shelter that has soft, dry bedding, gives protection from the heat in the summer and is warm and dry in the winter.
Hunger or thirst
Dogs require plenty of fresh water and need a well-balanced diet to remain healthy and contented. A dog will soon let its owner know by barking, howling or whimpering if it has not been fed or has no water to drink.
An obvious or underlying medical condition can be the cause of howling, whimpering and barking. Flea or worm infestations, skin allergies and some injuries that are usually easily detected and treated can cause a dog to make excessive noise. A veterinarian should be