This blog post has been inspired by Ems over at Blogspot. If there is a “problem” dog in your area her article is well worth a read.
Of all my family members, I’m probably the only one who loves dogs more than I like cats. I have always been a dog person (the friends who are owned by a beautiful – and very silly – Staffie similar to the one pictured here will attest to this).
I have no objection to the sound of a barking dog – if the dog is doing a “happy” or “excited” bark whilst having positive interaction with an owner. Over the years I’ve lived next door to some yappy dogs who were thoroughly spoiled rotten and didn’t bark unless playing “fetch” or if the doorbell rang. A blogging friend has a little dog that likes to go out on the balcony and yap at pigeons for a couple of minutes until she’s inticed back indoors, and I would have no issue with this type of barking either. The dog barks because it sees something interesting that it wants to interact with but can’t get to. Dogs do this.
Two of my other “doggy” friends are looking into ways to reduce barking when they are out of the house and the dogs are home alone. The dogs in question are well-loved and well behaved (which is a real achievement for one friend, as her little dog came to her completely traumatised and is now quite well settled after excessive but gentle training programs and a lot of love).
Another friend transports foster dogs from kill shelters in the States. A few years ago she took one look at a black Spaniel mix that she was supposed to transport and knew she couldn’t take her to her intended destination (the potential foster was someone that she had taken an instant distrust to). That dog got in the back of her car and never went any further than her house after that. I see pictures of that big silly every day, and every year I receive a Christmas card with Dahlia’s gorgeous furry face on it.
My dog was never much of a barker. He learned not to bark at the postman and the paper boy, and he didn’t bark when the phone rang. He would bark at the doorbell, but we always allowed him to come to the door with us so that he could see we weren’t being threatened in any way and so that he could lick the caller to death! He wasn’t even a jumper, so if you wanted him bouncing all over you then you’d need to give him the “up” command.
Every Sunday we’d take him up to the local hill after Sunday lunch for a good hour or more so that he could run around off the lead and do doggy things with the various doggy friends he met. We had to get him back on the lead in the area where there were often sheep though, as he was part Welsh Collie and he instinctively wanted to round them all up! He would never have harmed them, but we couldn’t allow him to frighten them, or allow such a gentle, well-mannered dog to wrongfully gain a name for sheep worrying.
The little dog across the road is not a happy yapper. She is outside all day in the warmer weather, and even when she’s indoors you can hear her yapping and getting yelled at for it. Nobody has ever seen her, but when I tried to reason with her owner I was told that she’s a “little grey wooly thing” – so she could look like an adult version of this:
This is a Barbet puppy – a breed I’d not heard of until today. If your dog looked like this could you ignore it and leave it outside all day? No; I couldn’t either. I wouldn’t want such a beautiful little creature out of my sight or off my lap!
When I spoke to the owner about the distressed-sounding animal I was told the following:
1: “Perhaps you should get up earlier”
Are you kidding me? You claim to know something about epilepsy and you tell me this? Sometimes I’m too wasted from a seizure the night before to even think about sitting up in bed – never mind getting up!
2: “Get a job”
Lady, you’ve seen me come past your house in my bloody wheelchair because I at least want to exercise my upper body if I can’t trust myself to walk. What kind of job away from home do you think I could possibly do?
3: “Buy some ear plugs”
Why the hell should I?
4: “What do you mean other people have been complaining? Who are they then?”
How should I know? I hear people talking outside but I’m not a curtain twitcher.
5: “You don’t know that it’s my Rosie”
I tracked her to your garden, didn’t I? And now you’ve confirmed my suspicions by supplying me with her name, which I’ve heard many a time when you’ve yelled at her. Idiot.
I did not want to get Environmental Health involved because it isn’t poor Rosie’s fault that she’s barking so much – but after receiving that attitude I didn’t have much choice. Even the RSPCA don’t want to know and fobbed me off with lies!
This morning I received a phone call from the nice man dealing with my complaint. Apparently this lady works from home and is trying to get on top of the issue.
She has also fitted Rosie with an anti-bark collar. I am horrified. She’s in the house all day with the dog and she’s taken extreme measures where clickers, air spray and treats would work? Try walking the poor thing once in a while, or just rolling around your garden lawn with her! Or perhaps let her up on your lap when you’re taking a break from whatever it is you do? Go and work from the library if you have to, and hire a dog-sitter. Just… please don’t leave her outside all the time and punish her for the results of your neglect.