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Barking is a natural behaviour for dogs, however it can be a source of annoyance and frustration for neighbours and the community as a whole.
Some dogs will bark at people walking by or cars driving past but once they have continued on their journey, the barking should cease. This barking can also act as a deterrent for would-be thieves or trespassers. It is when this becomes excessive that problems arise for owners, neighbours and the dog.
Reasons for barking
Dogs bark for many reasons and often relate to how the dog is feeling or may be related to a stimulus (or supposed stimulus) to the dog – bird flying, leaves blown by the wind, actions of other people and dogs etc.
What is it that triggers barking? The main triggers include protecting territory when a noise is heard, warning to back away when feeling threatened, a need for company when left alone or frustration due to boredom. The good news is that by identifying the underlying cause, greater success will be gained in terms of implementing training, exercise and environmental enrichment strategies to help alleviate the barking problem. There may also be steps that neighbours can take to minimise a potential trigger.
Reducing the visual stimulus to your dog by placing shade-cloth along fence-lines or the upstairs patio, will prevent the dog from seeing all activities that are taking place outside the property boundary.
If your neighbours are approachable, working with them to find a solution is a good first option. They may, in fact, not be aware that their dogs are creating a nuisance. Explaining the impact that the barking is having, without becoming angry or judgemental, can help guide discussions towards resolving the problem. Even though you may like dogs or feel that the solution is not your responsibility, offering support in the first instance can encourage appropriate action.
However, if approaching your neighbour directly is not an option, then reporting the complaint to the local authority may be necessary.
For more information regarding Council’s response to barking dog complaints, please read our Guide to Barking Dogs Brochure.