What to do when a neighbourhood dog won’t stop barking

We love our pets. But what happens when your dog won't stop barking?. Anne Leclair/Global News

WINNIPEG — Dogs will bark. It’s what they do. But a dog that barks uncontrollably all day will drive an entire neighbourhood or an apartment floor nuts.

Winnipegger, Debbie Collins, found herself in this situation living two doors down from two dogs in the Crestview area.

“[The owners] would leave them outside all day long and the poor things would bark and bark and bark and bark,” Collins said. “I wasn’t mad at the dogs – I was more mad at the owners.”

Collins said she filed three complaints with the city’s Animal Services after the barking went on for months.

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“Through summer, through the winter and then the following summer again,” she said.

“I was having my mom’s birthday party and (the barking) was just nonstop – and it was a barbeque outside, so it was nonstop through the whole thing.”

Collins finally reached a boiling point while she was laying in bed at 2 a.m. one morning.

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The dogs yapped and cried as Collins watched her alarm clock tick closer to her morning alarm.

She had enough and marched to the house in her housecoat.

“I said, ‘you need to let your dogs in, they have been barking for eight hours,’” Collins explained. “And I turned around to leave and the woman said, ‘oh, they’re outside?’”

A frustrated Collins told her neighbour she would be back with Animal Services. She doesn’t know if city officials dealt with her complaints, but Collins said after the conversation with the woman, the dogs stopped barking.

Eventually the neighbours moved away.

Common complaint to Animal Services

Noise complaints involving dogs are quite common with 311, according Leland Gordon, CAO of Animal Services.

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But he stressed most of these issues can be solved with a simple chat.

“Talk to your neighbour,” Gordon said. “Just talk about the barking – tell them how it’s affecting you.”

RELATED: Municipal sign in Dartmouth park tells visitors to control dogs’ barking

He explained people can call 311 to file a complaint if a discussion with the dog owner doesn’t resolve the situation or if a person is uncomfortable speaking to their neighbour.

Animal Services will then send a letter to the dog’s owner and a copy to the person making the complaint.

A letter from Animal Services will then be sent to the dog’s owner and the person making the complaint. The next steps include Animal Services officers making a house call to talk with the dog owner and that could be followed by a $200 ticket if the problem persists.

“I think that people are reasonable and when people are made aware that there’s a complaint, I think they take steps to reduce the barking.”

Why do dogs bark?

There are a variety of reasons dogs bark, according to Val Poulton, behaviour and intake manager at the Winnipeg Humane Society.

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“It’s really important to understand why your dog is barking in order to address it,” Poulton said. “Barking is a natural behaviour for dogs and if a dog is barking and you try and redirect the barking they might not understand what the issue is.”

Poulton said there are simple training exercises you can try with your dogs.

WATCH: Strategies for dealing with excessive barking

She also mentioned strategies you can try out to prevent your dog from barking continuously while you’re not home:

  • Block the window so your dog can’t see people or other animals outside.
  • Turn on the radio or play some music to drown out any outside noise.
  • Hide treats around the house for your dog to find to keep him/her occupied

Poulton mentioned there are some toys out there that can keep dogs entertained while they’re home alone, including some that slowly dispense treats.

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She stressed that it’s important to keep your dog active.

“Dogs, when they’re relaxed, and have had ample exercise before and/or after work, they just tend to sleep all day,” she said. “If you can engage your dog and keep them happy during those hours you are there, then they are more likely to be settled and relaxed when you’re not there.”

More information on taming excessive barking can be found on the Winnipeg Humane Society website.

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