Several readers requested that I re-address the problem of barking dogs.
As the weather warms, barking dogs are particularly annoying since we want to have the windows and doors open and enjoy our decks and patios. During the night, we would like to be able to sleep with the windows open.
Continuously barking dogs are certainly the sign of irresponsible pet owners. These dogs are not with their people or they would not be barking. One wonders how the owners of these dogs can stand the noise. They must be closed up inside the house with the TV blaring and the air conditioner running non-stop. Constantly barking dogs are generally bored and lonely. They bark to keep themselves from going crazy. And no one is bothering to tell them not to bark.
People who have barking dogs, and they must know who they are, should sit out on their deck in the evening and see just how annoying it is. Constant barking is best eliminated before it becomes a habit.
If we had a child that stood out in the yard screaming, what would we do? Hopefully we would not beat him. But we would tell him that screaming is not acceptable and if he insists on screaming, he would receive a punishment, such as being sent to his room. Then, every time this child screamed, we would remind him that screaming is not allowed and he would be sent to his room. We might also suggest some diversion. Soon the screaming would stop.
It works the same for dogs. We tell him "no bark" and slap our leg with a rolled newspaper. Every time he barks, we tell him "no bark". If he does not stop, we grab him by the collar, repeat the "no bark" and put him in the garage or back hall for a while. When he is outside and not barking, we say in a very pleasant voice, "good no bark". But each time he barks, we grab the newspaper and say "no bark."
Just like with a child, consistency is the key. It is very important to say "good no bark" when the dog is being quiet. -- This might be the most attention this dog has had in ages, so be sure to pet him and talk nicely to him when he quits barking. You might even bring him on to the deck or into the den and have him sit quietly with you. Rub his ears a bit and he will not even think of barking.
I just talked with the Payson Police Department. They did confirm that barking is a real problem in Payson. The town ordinance now states that a dog must bark continuously for one hour before a police officer will respond. That officer will make an effort to contact the owner. If that owner is not at home, which is generally the case, a note is left. If it is a continual offender, Don Tanner, Animal Control Officer for Payson, will issue a citation. According to the officer, the problem is that the dog must bark continuously for one hour. The ordinance was changed a few years ago. Before that, an annoying barker would be responded to and a citation issued. Now there must be a solid hour of barking. Generally, when the police arrive at the home, the dog is not barking non-stop, so he cannot do anything. It sounds like the ordinance needs to be changed back again to give the police department some grounds for taking action. All of you who are disturbed by barking dogs in Payson need to get to work changing the ordinance.
If each person would take responsibility for his own dog, the problem could so easily be solved and Payson would be a much more peaceful place to live. Most dogs who are non-stop barkers are also those who are chained or penned with little human contact. Recently this column mentioned a "Dogs Deserve Better Valentine Campaign" and this year's theme, Have a Heart for Chained and Penned Dogs. The effort was an amazing success. Each dog reported received a hand-made valentine and a treat and the owner received an educational brochure. A total of 2439 valentines were sent or hand delivered throughout the U.S. and Canada. In Leland, North Carolina, a few volunteers hand delivered 952 valentines. Hopefully I can report soon on some improved conditions for these dogs because of this campaign. A state-by-state breakdown puts Arizona in 7th place in number or valentines delivered out of a total of 39 states participating. North Carolina -- 1142, Pennsylvania -- 301, Georgia -- 142, Arkansas -- 118, Ohio -- 72, Texas -- 50, Arizona -- 42. The bad news is that Arizona has a lot of neglected dogs. The good news is that 42 people took the time to do something to try to make a difference for these dogs. By the way, this program runs all year around. You can e-mail reports about chained or penned dogs to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Payson Humane Society.
Spring is in the air. It is a great time to enjoy a walk with your dog. It is also the time for a good brushing. If you do not brush him regularly, he may not like it at first. But he will look and feel much better and eventually will come begging.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry AZ 85544.