Neigh­bour’s dog driv­ing you bark­ing mad?

Central Leader - - NEWS - By SARAH MOORE

It doesn’t take much for man’s best friend to morph into man’s worst en­emy.

Bark­ing is one of the most com­mon com­plaints be­tween neigh­bours. Re­lent­less bark­ing at all hours of the day is a com­mon dis­cus­sion on Neigh­bourly.co.nz and many peo­ple won­der what they can do to find a lit­tle howl-free har­mony at home.

So why do dogs bark in the first place? Of­ten it’s be­cause they’re bored and want at­ten­tion, or they need a re­lease for pent-up en­ergy. Dogs are nat­u­rally guard an­i­mals, so if the space they’re ‘guard­ing’ is too big bark­ing can be worse. Cats, birds or other dogs may have wan­dered past their ter­ri­tory. It’s also pos­si­ble that dogs just miss their own­ers.

You do have rights if bark­ing from the other side of the fence is caus­ing you grief. The Dog Con­trol Act 1996 says dog own­ers must ‘‘take all rea­son­able steps’’ to en­sure their pets’ bark­ing doesn’t annoy the neigh­bours.

The first step is ap­proach­ing your neigh­bours di­rectly. They might not even be aware of the prob­lem if they’re at work dur­ing the day. Oth­er­wise note down when the bark­ing causes you prob­lems and for how long, then call your coun­cil and ask for the dog con­trol unit.

A dog con­trol of­fi­cer will then as­sess the sit­u­a­tion. The of­fi­cer will tell your neigh­bours a com­plaint has been made (this can be anony­mous) and sug­gest ways to re­duce the dog’s bark­ing. Own­ers are usu­ally given a few days to sort the prob­lem out. The of­fi­cer may also call the SPCA if the dog is seen to be suf­fer­ing in any way.

You can, if the prob­lem con­tin­ues, is­sue a legal no­tice to your neigh­bours which gives them seven days to take se­ri­ous ac­tion to qui­eten their dog, re­move it al­to­gether or ob­ject to your com­plaint. If they don’t and there are fur­ther com­plaints, your neigh­bours can be fined. The dog can be con­fis­cated and sent to the pound if the bark­ing per­sists.

So what if you’re an owner of a bark­ing dog? Con­tin­u­ous bark­ing can strain your dog’s throat and even lead to in­fec­tions – and al­low­ing your dog to bark can also en­cour­age ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour. So it’s im­por­tant to do all you can to man­age your dog’s bark­ing – both for the good of their health and your neigh­bour’s san­ity.

Ide­ally dogs shouldn’t be left at home all day by them­selves, but this is in­evitable with most work­ing fam­i­lies. A long walk be­fore you go to work could tire your pooch and keep it con­tent for the day. Make sure it has things to keep it oc­cu­pied, like lon­glast­ing dog toys. If you work just around the cor­ner, nip­ping home at lunchtime could be enough to keep your dog happy un­til evening. If your dog is a par­tic­u­larly ac­tive and so­cial breed like a labra- dor or a husky, turn to Neigh­bourly.co.nz to find a lo­cal dog walker or even in­ves­ti­gate doggy day­care.

And don’t be afraid to think out­side the square; if your neigh­bour works from home, they might like the idea of keep­ing your dog com­pany dur­ing the day.

Think­ing about get­ting a pup? Al­ways con­sider where you live. Dogs, es­pe­cially big breeds, need a lot of space to run around in.

A dog is prob­a­bly not the best idea for apart­ment dwellers though smaller breeds like chi­huahuas might still be an op­tion.

Se­cure fenc­ing is also es­sen­tial; you don’t want to get a call that your dog has es­caped to the other side of town while you’ve been at work.

Take your kids – and your neigh­bour’s kids – into con­sid­er­a­tion too. Just be­cause a puppy is cute, doesn’t mean it can’t bite. Teach them how to be safe around dogs; visit bark.org.nz for safety tips.

Here are some steps to help dog own­ers man­age bark­ing:

Make sure your dog gets plenty of ex­er­cise

Some­times bark­ing comes from bore­dom, make sure you have good dog toys that will keep your dog busy while you are out

Make sure it has ac­cess to food and wa­ter, es­pe­cially when you’re not at home

If you’re out dur­ing the day, check in with your neigh­bours and make sure your dog isn’t be­ing a nui­sance

If your dog barks at night, keep it in­side

En­rol your dog in obe­di­ence classes or talk to an­i­mal be­haviourist or dog trainer.

Bark­ing dogs is one of the most com­mon com­plaints be­tween neigh­bours.

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