Caring for your dog

Barking prevention

Poor behaviour and nuisance barking can be stressful and disturbing for you and your neighbours, so it's important to get it under control early.


Barking prevention at the puppy stage

A young pup that barks at people or noises is more likely to develop into a nuisance barker. 

If you have a pup that is starting to bark at everything that moves, teach it by growling “bad” or “bah” at the moment it starts and praise it as soon as it stops barking. 

Alternatively try clapping your hands or throwing an object such as a can of pebbles onto the ground (near but not at the pup) and, at the same time, growl your reprimand word "bad" or "bah" to stop any inappropriate barking. 

Socialising your dog will help it mature into a well adjusted dog. To socialise your dog, you could attend a puppy pre-school. 

If you have concerns or need more advice, it may be useful to seek professional help.


Tips on curing nuisance barking

When you are home and your dog is outside barking, use a reprimand word (like "bah" or "bad"). 

Using reprimand words will help your dog learn that these words are being directed at it and its barking - not what it is barking at. 

When you achieve the behaviour you need (e.g. for the dog to stop barking), make sure you praise your dog.

If you use a reprimand word every time your dog does something wrong, it will soon understand. 

Monitor the barking and only reprimand for those things that you do not think are good behaviour.

Some reasons for barking can be:

  • separation anxiety - usually the dog barks as soon as you leave
  • boredom - your dog will bark, dig and chew. To help fill some of your dog's day, ensure you exercise your dog, and give it treats or toys. Also consider asking a friend or family member to look after your dog, a dog walking service or a doggie day care
  • territorial behaviour - usually the dominant, confident type.  As a rule, this type of dog is not the worst type of barker, as it will usually bark against perceived threats. However, you may need professional help if your dog barks to a nuisance level  
  • sight stimulation - dogs that bark at people or things they see should not be left at home alone with access elevated decks or front gates near public footpaths. The dog will bark at anything that passes the property – and it may be able to see a lot from an elevated deck. Restrict access to deck areas when the dog is home alone and either confine your dog to the backyard or use shade cloth or brush stick fencing to block off any sight stimulus.


Tips on good barking management

  • Do not console a barking dog; this will reward or reinforce barking.
  • Reprimand undesirable behaviour and praise good behaviour (this applies to fearful and aggressive behaviour as well).
  • Teach your dog that it is allowed to bark to alert you and it should then stop barking. 
  • Seek professional help if your dog is too difficult for you to handle.  Do not feel you have failed - it takes special skills to be able to train dogs successfully. 
  • Ensure your dog has daily exercise. You should exercise your dog at least once a day so that you tire your dog out by playing with it so it fetches and chases a favourite toy at an off leash park. 
  • Ensure your dog is occupied - provide bones for chewing and/or balls and toys for playing.
  • Ensure your dog is confined in a way that it is unable to see things to bark at.
  • Arrange with another dog owner for your dogs to play together.


If your dog barks to a nuisance level

A noisy dog can distress and disrupt your neighbours. 

We can, and will, take action against the owners of nuisance barkers.
 
We provide advice, information and encouragement at each stage.

Dog control officers assess the extent of any problems, including asking neighbours to monitor the dog's barking and complete bark monitoring forms. 

The officers may also visit neighbours and assess the barking (or howling or whining) themselves.

If an officer assesses that the dog is barking to a nuisance level, we may:

  • send a formal letter to the owner
  • issue a barking abatement notice
  • infringe the owner for breaching the barking abatement notice with a $200 infringement fee.

If we prosecute the owner for breaching the barking abatement notice, the court can impose a fine of up to $1500. 

We may also impound a dog for breaching the barking abatement notice and retain the dog until we are satisfied that the owner will take effective action to address the dog's barking.


Where to go for help

For more information you can contact us, your vet, or a reputable animal behaviouralist.

See Yellow Pages.


Boredom busters

Bored dogs can behave distructively -  dig holes, dig up plants, pull washing off the line and chew furniture or household items. They can also bark, jump fences and roam.

This can cause problems with your neighbours and the council.

If your dog has problem behaviours, change the its routine. Give it more and varied activities while it is at home alone and exercise the dog more off your property.

If the problems subside, your dog was probably bored.

Click on the heading to display some handy hints:

    • Rotate and restrict  the toys your dog can play with at one time. Do not give your dog access to all his toys everyday. The dog will become bored with them very easily. Do not leave them lying around so your dog can choose any of them.
    • Have toys for specific situations, eg toys that are only for throwing at a park.
    • Use treats. Throw a handful of your dog’s dry food around the lawn so he has to sniff out a portion of his dinner when you are not home.
    • Buy a treat ball and fill it with different goodies inside, eg peanut butter.
    • Hang up ropes with toys on the end and push a few treats inside so your dog has to jump and work for his food.
    • Give your dog a raw beef bone.
    • If you have a sandpit, you could hide treats in it for your dog to dig out.

    • Ensure your dog has enough exercise. A dog needs exercise off the property so it can stimulate its senses.
    • Walk in different areas and at different times of the day to keep your dog’s mind and nose active.
    • Ideally, allow your dog to run off-leash and play with other dogs (if dog is obedient and socialised.
    • Consider playing with a frisbee or ball.
    • Consider agility training.
    • Consider walks on a beach or places where your dog can swim.
    • Arrange with another dog owner for your dogs to play together.

    • Training stimulates a dog’s mind and reduces boredom. It can be done in short bursts and can be fun.

    If you have a very active dog, training clubs are a good idea. The dog can be active, stimulated and socialise with other dogs and owners.

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