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We love dogs, but barking dogs in close quarters are a whole different matter--one that made the pages of the New York Times twice this past weekend.
Saturday's "Shortcuts" column on annoying neighbors declared that in the suburbs, barking dogs top the list of Most Likely to Make You Miserable.
The article linked to a comprehensive resource, barkingdogs.net, started by a bark-plagued Northern California resident. It's fascinating reading--and depressing too, as resolving the problem is difficult and enforcement of regulations is typically lax.
“I did everything possible,” the site's creator told the Times. “I talked to the neighbors. I’m a master dog trainer, so I offered to train the dogs. I gathered data for months on end. Nothing worked.”
Meanwhile, a noisy NYC dog made the pages of the Times' real estate section in The Hunt column.
A Madison Avenue co-op dweller tells the Times that she and other neighbors have complained to the building management, the co-op board and the city about a nearby dog that barks when it's alone, so far to no avail.
“I wish I could say I was enjoying living in my apartment right now,” she told the Times, “but I’m really not. I don’t want to be a complainer, but if I knew, I would have gone to a building that didn’t allow pets.”
We think one solution might be to create a sort of doggie co-op: Line up a lonely neighbor--or several--who would welcome the company of a dog while its owner is out.
"I've not seen the neighbor 'dog share' idea before but think it's wonderful," Manhattan dog trainer and dog walker Jennifer Jill Bowen told BrickUnderground.
She is not a fan of bark-reducing electronic collars, however, which typically deliver an unpleasant stimulus when the dog barks.
"I don't find it particularly humane," says Bowen, who also runs Northward Hound, a rural vacation camp for city-dwelling dogs. "Typically dogs bark under these circumstances because they are lonely or bored."
If you are the one with a barking dog, Bowen has a few suggestions: "Make sure the dog has everything it needs to be comfortable and happy, starting with lots of exercise, which obviously makes a dog tired. In addition to that, a bed, blanket, crate, toys--especially 'treat toys' or 'treat games'--and water are helpful, and I also recommend leaving a tv or radio on."
As a last resort, she says, "try a citronella collar which, when the dog barks, omits a spray of citronella into the air which is unpleasant to the dog and the dog will generally stop barking."
In her opinion, one of the best solutions is somewhat counterintuitive, but highly effective.
"If possible," says Bowen, "get a second dog to keep the first one company."