There’s no upside to a dog's nuisance barking
Posted at 08:31AM - Comments: (23)
Bark! Bark! Bark! Bark! Aroo! Aroo! Aroo! This is how I know it's Wednesday.
I know it's Wednesday because every Wednesday there is a gardener who comes to service a property that is occupied by a neighborhood church across my back fence and one lot to the side. The gardener brings his dog, a hound, with him to work, and while the gardener works, trimming and raking and blowing leaves, the hound roams the church property. Well, not the whole property; he pretty much confines himself to running up and down the back fence of the church property, where three other big dogs live. He bays, and they bark. For an hour. Every Wednesday morning.
"Singing the song of their people" is how many hound owners describe the baying of their beloved dogs. I get it - and I love hounds, too! - but I can't say I love baying. Or barking.
"Dogs should be allowed to be dogs, at least sometimes!" say many dog owners - or at least, the ones who don't mind a lot of barking. I agree! But only as this relates to a few playful barks, or as many barks as are needed to get my attention when a stranger is at my door, or lingering at my front gate in the middle of the night.
Barking that goes on and on reminds me of humans who have lost their minds, like dementia patients who call for help around the clock, even as they are being helped by patient and sympathetic nurses. Dogs who are locked outside and who bark relentlessly make me just as sad as mad; I strongly sympathize with their boredom, anxiety, and loneliness. It must be so frustrating to live without acknowledgement or regard.
In my town, in order to make a noise complaint about a barking dog, you have to get two other neighbors to sign a statement indicating that the dog's barking is bothering them, too. This is meant to prevent neighbors who are feuding about unrelated matters from filing noise complaints in order to harass each other. The animal control officers in my town have told me stories about people who deliberately provoke their neighbor's dogs, by throwing rocks against the fences between their properties, for example, and then calling the police to complain about their neighbor's barking dogs. When the officers investigate, they learn from other neighbors that the complainant is well-known for purposely provoking the neighbor's dogs. And sometimes they learn that the people who are being complained about purposely got the dog and encourage it to bark in order to aggravate the complainant. For these and many other reasons, animal control officers often hate getting called out to investigate barking dog complaints.
As bark-phobic as I am, I've gathered statements from neighbors and filed a complaint about barking dogs in my neighborhood only one time. There is a family about three doors away that had, at the time, four or five Cattle Dog-mixes on chains and in pens in their back and side yard. (Originally, they had one intact male dog, who used to escape the yard daily, making rounds in the neighborhood, peeing on fences and triggering barking fits from all the neighborhood dogs behind fences. Then they got a female...and when the inevitable puppies came along, they kept two or three of them. And now, all the dogs are penned or chained.) At random times every day, something would set off the pack of dogs and they would all start barking, and it would take them an hour or more to all settle and quiet down.
One day I was working when the cacophony started and seemed not to have an end in sight (sound?). I walked over to the house with a note to leave on their door; I imagined that no one was home, because who could be at home and not step outside and say "HEY! HUSH!"? When I approached the house, I was horrified to see a woman through the front window. She was not only home (and not shushing the dogs) - when she saw me walking up the front walkway, she abruptly closed the front curtain! The dogs who could see me approach the door renewed and intensified their barking, and when I knocked on the door, barking from an uncountable number of small dogs in the house erupted - but no one either came to the door or could be heard attempting to shush the little dogs, either. I could only conclude this person was deaf, crazy, antisocial, or some combination thereof. I left the note, asking if there was anything I, a concerned neighbor, could do to help them manage the barking of their dogs, and when there was zero response a week later, I asked some other neighbors for help, and several added their names to the noise complaint I turned into the city animal control office.
About a week later, I was sitting at my computer and realized that it had been at least a day or so since I had heard any barking! I wondered what happened, and a few days later, I had the answer: I was walking my dogs by the house when I saw several of the former barkers standing behind their wire fence; each had an electronic (shock) bark collar on. Well, crud. I didn't see that coming. As much as I hated hearing all that nuisance barking, I hate the idea that the dogs are just as neglected and ignored as they were before, only now, they get shocked, too...which is why I haven't tried to shut down the Wednesday morning barking and baying club.