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The Barking Dog

Whether you're the owner or the neighbour of a barking dog, the one thing that is most commonly overlooked is that the dog is clearly unhappy.

As a neighbour of a nuisance barker life's stresses have just been multiplied, often to boiling point and communication with the dog's owners can be challenging. As the owner of a dog with separation anxiety you may well be completely unaware that there's a problem - leaving home to a dog who may be a little whiny and coming home to an excitable dog is nothing unusual - the fact that he or she may be barking, crying and/or howling for anything up to hours at a time isn't apparent as there may be absolutely no destruction and pup's quiet when you get home anyway, right?

If you're the neighbour the thoughts going through your mind are probably along the lines of:

Who do I report a barking dog to?

What do I do about a howling dog?

How can I stop a dog from barking, crying or howling, especially if it's not my dog?

How do I get the owner to get training for their dog's separation anxiety?

Our advice is - write a note to the owner, ideally giving your phone number or apartment number but it can be anonymous if that's the only way that you can do it. What's important is that the note calmly and clearly states the problem the severity, the frequency and the duration as accurately as possible. Here's an example

Hi. We're from unit/apartment...... and we've noticed that you have a dog now. Pup seems to be having a bad time settling in - we've noticed that he's barking from xxxam - not much to start with but by xxx he's pretty wound up - barking and howling. He can go for anything up to xxxmins but will be quiet for about xxxmins in between. So far it seems to stop at around xxxx. We hope that you can get help to settle him soon, please feel free to come visit us or drop a note, we're happy to keep an ear out and let you know how he's going with whatever training you put in place.

As a neighbour, one of the worst things that you can do is to say to yourself (or to the dog's owners) "oh, it doesn't really bother me, he's a dog, after all". I know that these sentiments come from a beautiful place but this dog is DISTRESSED. We need his people to know precisely what's happening so that they can get on top of it and the quicker the better, for the sake of you, the neighbour but also for the well-being of the dog.

As the owner of a dog like this please, PLEASE stay away from things like citronella collars, shock collars - anything that causes an unpleasant consequence to the dog's behaviour. Your dog is distressed, anxious, lonely, scared - punishment (or sedation) don't SOLVE the problem. Get a behavioural consultant to assess your situation and help you to help your dog to be relaxed and happy. Don't be offended by people who comment on his barking - they're commenting because they care (baiting a dog is not hard, trust me, these people care!) Open lines of communication with your neighbours ie:

"Hi. We've just moved in/gotten a new dog and it seems he's having a rough time settling in. We'd really appreciate your feedback on how we're going with settling him in so please keep us informed of his noise so that we can help him to be a calm and happy neighbour to you. Feel free to call us on. xxxx, or visit or drop a not to apartment xxxx."

We live in an increasingly high density environment and our dogs need to learn how to deal with it - they can't do it on their own.

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