Has your neighbour complained about your dog excessively barking? Both you and your neighbours deserve to live in a peaceful, comfortable environment.
Here's a breakdown of the potential reasons why a dog decides to bark and what you can do to curb excessive barking as the owner.
So, Why do Dogs Bark?
Barking is a dog's way of communicating. They'll bark to get your attention! But some dogs can't help but bark excessively. Your first step should be figuring out what triggers them to bark.
Once you understand why they are over-communicating, you can then move on to training them. It's worth noting that barking is just one type of vocal communication a dog can use and, depending on the context, can mean very different things.
Excessive barking is often triggered when a person or something else moves into an area that the dog considers its territory. As the "threat" gets closer and closer, the dog will be on high alert and bark in a more aggressive way.
Some dogs bark at anything, be it noise, object or person that startles them. It can happen in any environment, not just in their "home territory".
This can also be brought on with age, as hearing or vision is gradually impaired, they may become more easily startled.
Dogs, like people, are social creatures. They love to socialise and be with other people and dogs. When left alone for long periods in a house or backyard, they may become bored or sad and start barking to communicate that they are unhappy.
Some dogs bark when they greet people or animals or to tell them that they want to play. Usually accompanied by a wagging tail and sometimes (depending on the dog) jumping.
Some dogs just want attention. They'll bark when they want to play or feel like they deserve a belly rub or snack.
Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety often bark excessively when left alone - the barking is usually combined with other behaviours such as pacing, destructiveness, depression and inappropriate elimination.
They may bark to hear their voice, and often they make repetitive movements like running along a fence line or around in a circle.
What’s Defined as “Excessive Barking”?
There are multiple laws and acts that each state uses to dictate their policy. Local Government uses the 'Dog and Cat Management Act of 1995', the 'Dog Act of 1976' and the 'Companions Act 1988' as a guideline. Their exact definitions of what a nuisance dog is and the process of resolving a nuisance dog issue do vary.
The City of Wanneroo in Western Australia considers a dog a 'nuisance' by law when the dog persistently barks to the degree that it unreasonably interferes with a person's peace, comfort, or convenience.
In Western Australia, once a complaint is made to the council, the neighbour will have to submit evidence to prove the dog's barking. You are to include your address, the dates and times the barking occurred, and the barking duration.
Once this evidence is complete and approved, an infringement or even legal action against the owner is issued.
In the City of Kwinana in Western Australia, an infringement notice will cost you $200, and the fine given once prosecuted in court is $5000.
In South Australia, if a complaint is lodged to the council, the council still has to confirm if it is valid. It is still encouraged for the owner and the neighbour to resolve their complaint informally. If that isn't possible, the council will conduct a full investigation.
If they find the dog to be a 'nuisance', a Control Order is issued, and the owner must comply with reducing their dog's barking. Should the owner fail, they can be taken to court and prosecuted.
In the City of Marion in South Australia, a fine of $315 will be issued for a dog who is "Creating a Nuisance by Barking Sec 45a", however, they do not specify how much further infringement notices will cost.
New South Wales
If the dog owner does not comply with the first infringement notice in New South Wales, they will be issued a fine of $880. For the second and each subsequent offence a fine of $1650 will be issued.
The Cost of Non Compliance
Every council recommends talking to the dog owner first to allow them to resolve the root of the issue.
Each state has their own processes and names of formal complaints regarding excessive barking. However, the general process is simple: the council will notify you if someone lodges a barking complaint or infringement against you. Should you fail to comply with the instructions on this complaint, you may be prosecuted for a serious offence and may have a fine.
7 General Training Advice to Try First
1. Don’t Shout
Don't yell at your dog to tell them to be quiet. Your dog will think you're barking along with them.
Instead, use a calm, normal voice when communicating.
2. Stay PositiveMake sure you keep your training sessions positive and upbeat. If you stay patient and have positive energy, your dog is much more likely to learn the behaviours and skills you're teaching.
3. Stay ConsistentYou and your family need to ensure you consistently reward your dog for the same behaviours. It's confusing and unfair to your dog if you let it behave in one way sometimes and not all the time.
4. Keep Active
Exercising your dog regularly means your dog will have less energy to use on barking or misbehaving.
5. Increase StimulationLike keeping active, keeping your dog's mind active is essential. Invest in some interactive toys or DIY hacks to keep your precious pup entertained and distracted.
6. Rethink Your FenceIf you can further restrict your dog's view of what's happening on the street or in your neighbour's backyard, the number of things that could trigger their barking will be lessened.
7. Talk to your Vet
If nothing else works, talk to your veterinarian. They could potentially refer you to an animal behaviourist who can help you determine the exact underlying cause of the barking.
What Can I Do to Get My Dog to Stop Excessive Barking?
If the more general training tips don't work, you can try one of the most effective ways to reduce excessive barking - A Bark Collars.
A bark collar is a helpful tool to distract your dog from their excessive barking behaviour. A bark collar has a sensor to detect unnecessary barking and will emit a response to divert your dog's attention away from what it was barking at. This will allow you to reward calmer behaviours.
Here are the different types of bark collars:
Citronella Dog Collars
These collars are very effective at distracting excessive barking. They emit a citronella mist when they detect continuous barking from your dog.
The mist is harmless and is safe on dog skin and fur. The spray and scent are an unusual sensation for your dog. So it's extremely effectively in distracting your dogs.
We recommend the Barktec citronella spray collar. It's one of the highest quality collars available and suits both novice and experienced dog trainers.
Vibration Training Collars
Your dog will quickly learn that barking too much will lead to vibrations. The vibration given via the collar is not painful and doesn't cause any irritation.
Static Shock Collars
This type of collar is the most effective for training your dog. It works by emitting a low level and safe static shock when it senses excessive barking.
Many owners are intimidated by the Static Shock option; however, remember that the shock isn't painful. It's no different from the 'zap' you get from rubbing your feet across a carpet and touching something else. It's unpleasant for a split moment but not enough to hurt you.
This type distraction may be necessary for stubborn dogs with a high drive and won't react to anything else.
If you need to train excessive barking out of your dog, explore your options with eDog. We have various training tools that suit your lifestyle, values and your beloved dog.