Barking dogs continue to be a problem in Payson. I was invited to the Woodhill Homeowner's Association meeting as they are looking for solutions. It seems that people who have barking dogs either don't hear them or do not see it as a problem. It is a problem. We move here to this beautiful place away from big city noises and pollution so that we can enjoy the great outdoors, particularly our own yard. Whether we rise at dawn to enjoy the cool of the morning or sit on the deck and watch the glorious night sky, we should be able to do it in peace.
Those who have barking dogs must not sit outside. It certainly would be annoying to them also.
Dog owners have been known to say, "That is what dogs do. They bark." The fact is, dogs bark because they are allowed to bark. We all want our dogs to bark when an intruder appears or danger lurks, and they will. But for dogs to be allowed to bark seemingly at nothing for more than a few minutes is both annoying and totally inconsiderate.
Dog owners must realize that if they do not curtail the barking, the neighbors will find a way to do it. Some of these solutions can be rather harsh. Poison is a threat that comes up way too often.
There are ways to stop annoying barking. Dogs bark because they are allowed to bark. (I know I said that before.) The barking becomes a habit. No mater how old they are, that habit can be changed. A very effective method is the rolled up newspaper. When the dog barks, you slap the newspaper against your leg or a wall or tree and say, in a firm voice -- "no bark." The dog will stop at look at you and ask -- "Hey, what's with you? I have been doing this forever and you never said a word before." hen he stops barking, immediately say, "good no bark" in a very pleasant up-beat tone. This method works very well providing you are consistent. Every time the dog barks, you must insist that he stops. It takes a while to change the behavior, but it can be changed.
Barking, overeating and smoking are all habits. We want the offensive habit changed immediately. However, changing a habit takes time and determination. Whether it's a piece of pie, just one cigarette or a barking dog, a commitment is needed to change the behavior.If you want a dog that does not bark, do not allow him to bark. If there are javelina on the other side of your fence, the dogs will bark. If someone comes to your gate, the dogs will bark. After a few barks, tell him "no bark". Habitual barking is totally another thing.
The other methods are a little more dramatic. Bark collars work. The little box on the collar has prongs attached. When the dog barks, he receives a shock. The price is about $79.00. Connie at Payson Feed says cheaper models are available, but they received so many complaints about them that now they only carry this one which works very well. The feed store also carries a remote control pet training system. You can alter a variety of behaviors with this device. But to stop barking, you have to be there with the remote when they are barking. For little dogs, a sonic device fits on the existing collar and a high pitched noise is used to alter the behavior. There are anti-bark collars that emit a strong odor but Connie says these have not proven to be very effective.
If you do not think your dog is one of those that your neighbors are complaining about, check it out. When he goes outside, open the window and watch and listen.
If you are inside with the air conditioning and television on, that barking will not be annoying you. And if you are sitting outside with the dog, he probably will not bark. So listen from inside the house. And if he barks, tell him to stop.
The residents of Woodhill subdivision are eager to find a neighborly way to solve the problem of barking dogs. The best solution requires that each pet owner assumes responsibility for his dog and change that behavior.
On an aside, I was reminded of the danger of leaving a pet in the car on these hot days. You know how hot your car gets when it is sitting in the sun. Very few parking lots have shade. Dogs can die or suffer from heat stroke in a hot car. Even with the windows open, it gets too hot. Dogs in the back of pickups get way too hot as well as the normal dangers of falling out and being killed. And when walking with your dog, make sure the sidewalk or road is not too hot for tender feet.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.