Dog’s Eye View: Is anybody out there?
Have you wondered why some dogs bark intermittently, day or night, in your neighbor’s yard? Are you that neighbor? Have you thought that there could be a connection between the dog’s type or breed; his age, energy level or temperament; or the environment the he is in? Have you wondered about the physical and mental well-being of the dog? Have you considered that an untrained, un-socialized or un-housetrained dog is more likely to be outside barking?
If you looked into the yard of a barking dog, you might find lots of holes from digging, chewed trees and shrubs and perhaps some destroyed lawn furniture. Dogs are not meant to live lives of solitary confinement, loneliness and mind-numbing boredom. Without humans in their world, dogs would spend much of their day hunting for food, eating, sleeping, chewing, exploring/marking their territory and perhaps interacting with other dogs that cross their paths.
Many yard barkers have never been taught anything about life with humans. They’ve basically been kept uncivilized; well- managed, trained dogs can be left inside the home for a period of time in the owner’s absence.
Understanding the cause of barking is necessary to help, but if this is your neighbor’s dog, there’s another problem. How can you discuss the problem with them? They honestly may not know that their dog is disruptive. They may not know he’s preventing you from using your yard for outside activities or keeping you awake at night.
Start keeping track of the hour the dog barks and how long the barking lasts. Write it down. If you have a tape recorder, record the episodes and date them. Write a pleasant note to your neighbor outlining the problem and offer to talk about it. Offer to be part of the solution. Maybe they’d not thought about dog walkers, doggie day care, training classes or behavior consultants experienced in helping owners.
I know of several situations in which the owners divorced, and the dog was caught in the middle, with no one to care for him. In one case, the neighbor who was being kept awake at night by the barking dog actually adopted it. The dog wound up in a great home with an enriched life.
In the end, if there’s been an attempt to resolve the problem amicably with no positive result, you might speak with the people at Animal Control. Animal Control officers are trained in intervention techniques and have experience in these situations. They’ll probably be glad to see your written records of dates and times and copies of your attempts to resolve the situation amicably.
If we’ve taken on the stewardship of a dog, it’s our responsibility to fulfill all his needs. Being a considerate neighbor is pretty nice too. No dog needs to be calling out, “Is anybody out there?”
Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional Dog Trainer at Total Teamwork Training with more than 30 years of experience.
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