Dogs have been closely associated with man for hundreds of years, but in the early days of their relationship every dog had a job to do. Pet dogs were unknown and every dog worked for its living in one way or another. Dogs were trained to hunt, to herd stock, to track and to guard. In their many roles they proved adaptable and loyal. In return for their services, they received food, shelter, and above all, companionship. They were not pampered - but neither did they suffer from loneliness and boredom.
Today, the average domestic dog does not have a job to do and often has no outlet for his natural instincts and energy. Many dogs are alone for hours at a stretch while their owners are at work. They are lonely, bored and frustrated, so to break the monotony they chew, dig holes, and bark!
It is an owners responsibility to prevent his dog from annoying other people and constant barking constitutes noise pollution of a most disturbing kind. It is also the owners responsibility to understand his dogs basic needs and to ensure that these are met.
Complaints to Councils about barking dogs invariably concern those animals that are...
- constantly chained up
- who live permanently outside the house
- whose owners are away all day
Many poor creatures suffer all three deprivations. Is it any wonder that they bark? If you keep a dog under these conditions, re-think your situation. Perhaps it might be better not to have a dog until your circumstances change and you can give your dog more freedom and companionship? However, most of these problems can be overcome - if you are willing and able to make the effort.
What Can I Do About It?
Firstly, if you are contemplating dog ownership, do not acquire a puppy and leave it alone for hours on end. Instead, give a home to a more mature dog - preferably one a few years old and of a relaxed disposition, who will be much less stressed at spending periods of time alone. If you must leave your dog alone all day, remember he has already slept all night. You cannot expect him to sleep all day as well without something to break the monotony.
Make the effort to get up a bit earlier and take him for a walk - or play ball with him in the garden, before you go to work. Give him some individual attention.
Provide a securely fenced area close to your house in which the dog can move freely and can seek sun, shade, or shelter from inclement weather as necessary. Access to part of the house, say the laundry, may make the dog feel more secure and less isolated.
Most adult dogs are given one meal a day, usually in the evening, so if your dog is distressed at being alone all day, try giving him a light meal in the morning plus a bone to chew on to help pass the time. Alternatively, you could try giving your dog his main meal in the morning and a snack at night. A full stomach helps to induce relaxation and sleep. A dog should not be left on a fixed chain for long periods as this induces aggression and encourages barking. If a dog must be chained it should be on a correctly constructed running chain with access to adequate shelter, i.e. a garage, shed or a good kennel of suitable size.
Barking at Night
Dogs kept permanently outside the house are lonely and to relieve the monotony they tend to bark at trivialities such as hedgehogs, cats, the moon, passersby etc. Consequently, when the dog barks with REAL REASON owners and neighbours ignore him, assuming the cause to be just another visiting hedgehog!
Keep your dog inside your house at night. A dog sharing the fireside with his family will not bark and annoy the neighbours. He is also better protection for you. Intruders are definitely discouraged from entering a house where a dog is loose INSIDE. Remember also that a dog left outside the house is vulnerable. He can be bribed, poisoned, stolen or injured.
Apart from the basic requirements of food, water, shelter, exercise and medical care dogs need human companionship. Take notice of your dog, talk to him, and whenever possible, allow him to accompany you, whether it be in the car or on foot. Remember he is a pack animal and you and your family are his pack. A contented dog, with a caring owner or family, is rarely a problem barker.
However, if you do not enjoy your dog, and your only reason for keeping one is to guard your property while you are away, then consider investing in a burglar alarm instead. You will find it a lot less trouble, and in the long run, a lot cheaper!
Article Copyright The Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Incorporated (RNZSPCA) - www.rnzspca.org.nz