PREVENTING THE BARKING DOG PROBLEM
The biggest suburban dog problem usually causes the owners of the dog no problem at all. The problem is that of the barking dog. Many dogs bark incessantly in their owner’s absence, much to the annoyance of the next door neighbours who have to put up with the incessant annoying barking. In many cases the owners are not aware of the problem until they are spoken to by the neighbour or visited by a council officer.
To prevent or solve the problem we must concentrate on the origin of the behaviour rather than the bark itself, which is only a manifestation of a deeper behavioural problem.
Dogs have three different types of bark, namely the play bark, the alarm bark and the
frustration/attention-seeking, or nuisance bark. It is the nuisance bark that is the biggest problem. It is found in cases where the dog is isolated from the family such as when the owners have gone out. The basic problem is boredom. As dogs are by nature social or pack animals, they are not happy when isolated from other members of the pack, which in this case is the dog’s human family. When isolated, it is natural for them to bark to gain attention. If nobody is home, then the bark serves only to annoy neighbours.
To overcome the nuisance bark, one technique is to confine the dog in its own pen or den. This is a very useful procedure as it stimulates the natural place in which a pack dog would sleep. Wild dogs choose to sleep and rest in dens generally consisting of a hollowed out log or cave in an embankment. When inside these dens, they are safe from other marauding dogs and they are warm, dry and comfortable. The wild dog never barks inside its den as this would advertise its location. When in its den, the dog is serene and relaxed, and certainly not anxious.
Thus to sidestep separation anxiety problems, which include hole digging and ripping
clothes off the line as well as barking, you should create a den for your dog to sleep in and lock it in the den when you leave for work. Feed them at that time. They will then associate your leaving with something good. Furthermore, when you return to the house, try to ignore the animal for 5 minutes. Thus not further emphasising the ‘going away anf leaving me’.
To create a den select or make a small area about 2 metres by 3 metres. A covered outside pen would be ideal. Most importantly feed and water the dog in the den.
Another stimulant for some nuisance barking is when the dog can see the street through a gate or open fence. Blanking off the gate and fence can be effective in reducing the barking.
Another technique is to purchase an anti-barking collar. They affectively train the dog not to bark by ‘punishing’ the animal after persistent barking. There are two kinds of collars available in NSW. These are the ultrasonic and the citronella collar. The ultrasonic collar gives out a high pitched beep after persistent barking that we cannot hear, but the animal does. There is however an audible sound given out to us that allows us to know it is working. The citronella collar squirts citronella into the face of the animal after persistent barking. It can be recharged. Always make sure you have plenty of replacement batteries available especially when first training the animal. The collars have to be up tight around the neck to be most effective.