‘Tis the season to be a good DOGGY neighbor! As we pet lovers know, dogs and barking just go hand in hand. A dog barking at the occasional squirrel in their yard or cat in a window isn’t something that usually causes friction among neighbors. Problems can arise, however, when a dog’s barking becomes so constant that it changes the neighborhood from relaxed and friendly to tense and exhausting.
Dogs living in urban and suburban settings have very different roles than those of farm or sled dogs. Neighborhood or apartment dwellers need to be sufficiently calm and controlled in order to live in peace with human housemates and neighbors. The experts at Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS) know that some pet guardians need a little reminder that being a respectful neighborly family includes respectful behavior from the dog as well.
Because every guardian is not a trained animal behaviorist, some may have trouble pinpointing why their dog is barking in the first place. Dogs bark for many reasons. Stanley Corence wrote in his book How to Speak Dog — Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication that a barking dog can be communicating many things. He stresses the importance of distinguishing different forms of canine communication in order to find a solution. This can often be achieved by simply examining the dog’s daily life to determine what might be missing.
Even if an owner understands why their dog is barking they may still not know how to control it. Some people assume that because dogs are meant to bark there is really nothing they can do, opting to not even deal with the situation. Some may not even realize that the barking is bothering others. In some cases “bothering” is an understatement. Problem barkers can deprive neighbors of sleep, disrupt a special patio gathering, and just generally diminish a neighborhood’s luster.
Many dread the prospect of approaching neighbors about their beloved pet being a nuisance. Thanks to MCAS, in Multnomah County, there’s help — of a kind that places a premium on preserving the comfort and joy of you, your neighbor, and the dog.
MCAS’s service starts with a prewritten letter of concern that can be viewed, downloaded and printed here. The letter can then be mailed to the neighbor (with or without your return address to allow anonymity if desired/needed).
The letter states a general concern about an animal noise nuisance and is a great way to inform the barking dog’s guardian that there is a problem without going to the next level of filing a petition with the city. Accompanying the letter is information on the many issues related to persistent barking — from fears to social isolation and protective behavior. It contains valuable behavioral explanations and problem-solving tactics to help the responsible guardian correct the situation. Most importantly, the service is a great way to keep our goofy, four-legged pals in their rightful place: right here at home!