Whole Dog Journal's Blog November 17, 2014

Barking Dogs: A Rant

Posted at 12:54PM - Comments: (10)

Why do people expect dogs to be calm and quiet when they are left outside for hours and hours, with minimal protection from the weather - or at least, a lot less than they get indoors ­ - and nothing in particular to do? It has to be one of my top three dog - owner pet peeves. For me, there is just nothing as aggravating as listening to a dog barking incessantly. I both feel for the dog and feel murderous at the same time. Who do I want to murder? Alternately, the dog, the owner, and myself!

I'm ranting right now because there has been a rash of barking dogs on my block lately. My next door neighbor is dog - sitting for her sister, and suddenly there are two dogs who don't feel at home spending most of the day in a strange (to them) backyard. There are no dog houses or covered areas in that yard, so there is no warm and cozy spot to curl up and take a nap; so the dogs are up and awake the whole time they are left outdoors. And it's understandable that they don't understand that there are cats, dogs, chickens, and humans who routinely walk around my backyard, and who do not constitute a threat to their own temporary quarters. But what is not understandable to me is that my neighbor doesn't seem to realize, unless I call her, that the dogs barking every time I walk out my own back door is a nuisance.

There is also a dog over my back fence who lives outdoors 24/7 - which, now that I think about it, is my number one pet peeve of all time - and who barks whenever any other dog in the neighborhood barks. (Genuine watchdogs are one thing; neglected, untrained pets in town are another. What possible use is a dog in an urban yard who never gets attention, and how cruel is it to isolate an individual of a social species in this way?)

And then there are the neighbors on the back of the block I live on, who have two or three small dogs who set up a ruckus worthy of 10 dogs when people walk by their yard. The owners will occasionally yell "SHUT UP!" at the dogs, and eventually bring the dogs back into the house, but why not just bring the dogs inside without screaming at them?

I get distracted enough by the sound of barking dogs that I have done all sorts of things to prevent my own dogs from being nuisance barkers. I have habituated them to being outdoors regularly. I make sure they have ample fresh water and comfortable places to sleep. In the summer, I wouldn't dream of leaving them outside unless the dogs' sandbox is well wetted down before I left; it's in a shady corner of the yard, and really the only cool place on my property when it's hot. I have two dog crates out on my deck, situated next to the house under a porch roof, and covered in insulated crate "jackets." The crates have the doors taken off, and I allow the zippered flap of the front of the crate cover to hang like a tent flap, so the dogs can slip inside for a cozy snooze any time. I have nice, thick fleece mats inside, and I take them out and wash them at least once or twice a month, to keep them clean and smelling nice.  The dogs often spend time outside when I am home, so it's not a new thing to be left outside when I am not home.

I can leave my big dog, Otto, outside when I am away from home for even a half day or more, and I do expect him to refrain from barking incessantly when I do this. I'll usually leave him with some food - stuffed Kongs or a nice big fresh juicy marrow bone. But I also let my neighbors know I'm going to be gone, and ask them to call me if they hear Otto barking; I can have a friend come over, if need be, and put Otto in my house. And I check with my neighbors: "Was Otto okay yesterday? Not barking while I was gone?"

I have two dogs, remember, but I don't leave Tito the Chihuahua outside unless I am going to be gone less than a half - hour, because he does bark when he gets bored or anxious. When I am home, he will bark only when the mail delivery person or UPS person comes in the gate. But if no one is home, he ratchets up the security level to unbearable, and barks at anyone walking down the sidewalk in front of my home (which is one block away from the town's main post office, so we do get some foot traffic!), anyone parking in front of the house, and the sound of any other neighborhood dog barking.

Anyway, I guess I am barking now. Maybe it's strange for someone who likes dogs so much to be so unhappy about barking dogs. But I assume that the dogs who have nothing better to do than bark are just as unhappy as I am, and I really do feel their pain and anxiety, too.

Comments (10)

Today, after living in my house 14 years, a police officer showed up at my door telling me "neighbors" are complaining about my dogs barking. I have two small dogs that are inside 23.5 hours a day. I walk them everyday. But when they are out in the fenced yard, for the five minutes (since it's winter and cold), they bark. I have a Yorkie who alerts me to danger. But seriously? No one has ever approached me. Dogs bark, it's their form of communication. Having had a home burglary before I got them, I WANT them to bark. The cop didn't tell me which neighbor(s). What do I do? I refuse to punish the dogs for barking.

Posted by: Leahsmom | February 11, 2015 9:10 PM    Report this comment

My dog..... Reese always goes out looking for a fight. I say that because he barks as soon as I let him out. Most of the time there is nobody out there. I like the fact that he lets the neighborhood know that there is a big dog that lives here.

Posted by: buffy548 | November 18, 2014 6:36 PM    Report this comment

My dog..... Reese always goes out looking for a fight. I say that because he barks as soon as I let him out. Most of the time there is nobody out there. I like the fact that he lets the neighborhood know that there is a big dog that lives here.

Posted by: buffy548 | November 18, 2014 6:34 PM    Report this comment

The neighborhood where I live is zoned for horses and there are horse paths behind us instead of alleyways. They are a great way to avoid the streets when walking dogs, and I know where most of the dogs live along our route(s) because they usually come tearing to the fences when we pass. I would say that about 8 out of 10 homes have dogs, yet as I sit here I don't hear one barking at all, and it is most unusual to hear incessant barking. After reading the other comments, I feel blessed. When my dogs bark, I go outside and look for the reason - okay, I ask them to show me what it is. They have a doggy door so they are never locked out, and given the sleepy faces I'm usually greeted with when I've been gone I think they sleep the whole time. Doubly blessed. The Billy Collins poem may have been born of frustration, but it is hilarious.

Posted by: MJC | November 18, 2014 3:14 PM    Report this comment

I have 3 of my own dogs and usually foster 1 more so there are quite a few barking parties out in my fenced-in back yard at any one time. But, generally, my Dobie takes the security position and runs the fence, barking at lawn mowers and deer while the others save their barking for the chorus of other neighborhood barkers. I have elderly neighbors on either side of me who probably hate me for this but I do try to limit the barking time and I don't leave them out without me for any extended periods. That said, my current foster was in trouble at his last foster's house for barking. At my house that is not an issue unless you're a kitty. So I hope I don't exactly fit in the category of 'idiots' mentioned above :-)

Posted by: diane.tolle@siemens.com | November 18, 2014 3:01 PM    Report this comment

So we understand your neighbors are bad dog owners. They are insensitive and neglectful, and the dogs are suffering these fools. You have not been able to educate the people, so lets see what you can do to help the dogs. How about picking up some marrow bones for them, too, when you get some for your dogs? Maybe throw them a kong or 2 occasionally. If they don't have proper shelter from the elements, rescue them.
Step up and help those dogs. Who cares if you offend the owners. We have already established they are idiots

Posted by: Pennyannie2 | November 18, 2014 12:30 PM    Report this comment

Luckily where we live the local canine inspector will get involved, and warn our neighbours, and we have been recording the incessant barking, which, if we want to, we can then use to press charges, but that means going to court, which we really don't want to do because these are our immediate neighbours. We have complained numerous times with these people, who are at heart, good people. But they NEVER EVER take their dogs for walks. It is painful for me to listen to the frustration of these animals. I laughed at Billy Collins title about not keeping a gun in the house! My sentiment too! Meanwhile, the previous owners of our place killed several of the neighbour's dogs... and the neighbours have put down several of their dogs since we've moved here, two years ago, for aggression. Now tell me, what is the difference between the dog owner killing an animal for bad behaviour, due to negligence, and a frustrated person who can't tolerate the barking any longer? Well, one more warning, and then that's it. A court visit, and they will be paying a fee.

Posted by: Tamara Heikalo | November 18, 2014 10:40 AM    Report this comment

Thanks, that was toooo funny!!

Posted by: mollylena | November 18, 2014 9:08 AM    Report this comment

I wholeheartedly agree with you, Nancy, my ridgeback Katy is very quiet but will bark if someone comes up our driveway. But, I live in the country and there is no one to bother. There is a neighbor who lives about 1,000ft from us and they leave their dog out while they are working in the fields. That poor dog barks incessantly until they finish their work and go inside, the dog goes with them. I do have a problem with you leaving your dog outside when you are not home. Why??? Are you aware of dogknapping? Does your dog destroy your home when you are away? I'm sorry but I don't understand.

Posted by: mollylena | November 18, 2014 9:06 AM    Report this comment

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House by BILLY COLLINS

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.

Posted by: Jlmack43 | November 18, 2014 9:02 AM    Report this comment

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