Excessive barking is
one of the most common dog complaints reported to Councils. Barking
is monotonous and repetitive and it is a sound that few people can
tolerate for any length of time. Dog owners often have difficulty in
believing that their dog barks excessively, because the dog usually
barks when they are out and is not barking when they arrive home.
Because most people
today buy a dog for protection as well as a companion, it is
important that we understand the differences between a good watch
dog and a nuisance barker. Allowing your dog to bark at anything it
likes is not the correct way to teach it be "A good watch dog".
A dog that barks at
anything is not a good watch dog. A dog like this is similar to a
car alarm that keeps going off for no reason. People will eventually
take no notice when it goes off for a legitimate reason.
A good watch dog will
only bark if there is imminent danger (fire etc) or there is someone
entering your property.
NEAR A DOG THAT BARKS EXCESSIVELY
Dog owners are seldom bothered by their own
dog's barking, but it can be very disturbing to others in the
neighbourhood. The dog's owners should be approached directly and
have the problem explained to them.
How It Can
- Makes it hard to
listen to people talking.
- Makes it hard to
enjoy radio or television.
- Creates stress
- Disturbs sleep
- Affects moods and
Neighbours Can Help the Dog Owner
If the dog owner is prepared to rectify the
problem, a neighbour can assist in the dog's restraining by
correcting it over the fence with a firm "No" when barking occurs,
and by praising the dog when it is quiet. This can be particularly
helpful if the owners are not home during the day.
If a problem persists
then a complaint should be made to
The Animal Control Section at your local
All complaints will be
investigated. You may be required to assist us by providing accurate
details of the times and dates of the barking.
What To Do
If A Complaint Is Made About Your Dog
- A dog owner who has
had a complaint made about their dog's barking should
- Check with several
neighbours to ascertain when and how often the barking occurs.
- Verify that there
is a problem by leaving home and returning without the dog
noticing at the alleged times. This procedure should be repeated
on several occasions to obtain a pattern to the dog's barking.
- Keep a record, by
doing this it may be possible to match the barking to a regularly
occurring event. The neighbour's children may be teasing the dog,
or some other activity in the neighbourhood could be triggering
- Check whether the
complaint is genuine by discreetly boarding the dog for a few
days. During this period the Council should be requested to make
enquiries with the complainant to see whether the dog is still
alleged to be barking.
CAUSES & SOLUTIONS
Barking is a natural behaviour that may occur
more in some breeds or individual dogs than others because of their
breeding or temperament. Some are more excitable, whilst others are
more likely to react to confinement or isolation by barking.
need to carefully select a dog suitable for their lifestyle and home
Dogs will bark at any noises or movements they
can see, hear and smell but are not able to investigate or reach.
People or dogs passing by, birds flying overhead, lawn mowers, the
telephone ringing, a knock on the door, livestock in adjacent
paddocks or the sound of other dogs may trigger a bout of barking.
A well socialised dog
that has been given a variety of experiences when young is less
likely to overreact to outside distractions.
Dogs are social animals and will actively seek
the company of other dogs and people. When left alone in back yards
all day they may bark for attention. Most dogs will adapt to being
left on their own if conditioned to do so from an early age. Leaving
the dog alone for short periods at first and then gradually
increasing the time to the maximum period it will regularly spend on
its own, will help the dog to adjust.
Owners can also assist
by establishing a routine so that the dog receives attention when
they are home.
A dog should not be kept near a walkway,
hostile neighbours, or where children can tease it. The location of
the dog's kennel or run may need to be changed if it is too close to
a neighbour or other distractions.
Neighbours who have
dogs that growl and bark at each other should restrict each of the
dogs access to the fence-line. A high solid fence or confining the
dog to the rear of a property can prevent a dog from growling,
barking or lunging at passers-by.
A dog will often bark at visitors arriving,
whether they are strangers or friends, especially if it is behind a
barrier. If a dog is introduced to the visitors, it won't be so
vocal when they arrive.
Many dogs are anxious or insecure when their
owners are absent and may cope with the stress of separation by
barking, digging or chewing.
Plastic or hide bones
should be given to the dog before its owner leaves home as these can
provide an outlet for the dog's anxiety. Minimal attention should be
given to the dog before its owner departs.
Excitable dogs will bark when overstimulated.
This frequently occurs during play or when the dog is chasing a ball
or birds in the garden.
IN THE DOGS LIFE
A major change in an older dog's lifestyle or
environment may cause excessive barking. If an owner starts working
longer hours, a marriage breaks up, a new baby arrives or a family
shifts house, the amount and type of attention the dog receives or
its status in the household may change.
Instead of ignoring
the dog, the owner should establish a new routine that includes
exercise, training and play.
Dogs that are hot, wet, cold or without
shelter may bark, as will dogs that are sick or in pain, hungry,
thirsty or entangled in their chain. Before leaving home, the owner
must ensure that their dog has access to good shelter, bedding,
food, water and familiar toys throughout the day.
Dogs that are kept
inside should have access to the outside when their owners are
THE DOG TO BARK
If a dog is taken for a walk, brought into the
house or comforted because its barking is too loud and prolonged,
then the barking will always be loud and prolonged. The dog soon
learns that barking can be rewarding.
If a dog is brought
inside the house because of its barking it must be done so on a
permanent basis. A part of the house can be sectioned off for its
Yelling at or hitting a barking dog achieves
nothing except to reward the dog by giving it the attention it was
seeking. Whether the attention is good or bad it does not matter to
a dog that seeks this.
will increase the likelihood of future barking by making the dog
more anxious and may also cause it to bite when threatened in the
Get into the habit of rewarding a dog for
being quiet by praising him or releasing him. To often we only
acknowledge the dog when he barks.
Exercise alone will not stop a dog from
barking, but it may provide an active release for its energy.
Exercise should be varied, with 15-20 minutes daily spent walking,
training and playing with the dog. If the dog is to be left alone
all day, it is preferable for the owner to exercise it before
Riding a bicycle with
the dog running alongside is dangerous. Too often a dog is
distracted by another dog and pulls its owner off the bicycle and
into traffic, or the dog itself gets injured in the moving wheels.
Another dog may help if a dog is barking
because of isolation or anxiety. If not, then the resident dog will
probably teach the new dog to bark at all the distractions it
presently barks at.
Owners considering a
second dog should first borrow a dog from friends, on different
occasions, to assess whether company will reduce their dog's
barking. Other pets can provide company for the dog. Caged birds can
be used, but they must be kept out of the dog's reach.
DOGS KEPT INSIDE THE HOUSE
Curtains should be drawn and the dog's access
to windows restricted to prevent it from barking at passers-by.
A "do not disturb", or
a "do not ring" sign pinned to the door when the owner is absent
will decrease the likelihood of the dog barking when someone knocks
Some dogs will relax
more if the lighting is dimmed.
A radio, TV, video or
music can be left playing when the owner is out. This may comfort
the dog by muffling any extraneous sounds and creating conditions
similar to when its owners are home.
If the continual ringing of
a telephone causes the dog to bark, an answer phone can be
installed. This will enable the owner to call home at irregular
intervals and use their voice to distract the dog from its barking.