May 13, 2010

City Trying to Collar Nuisance Dog Barking

The recent cold spell meant many area residents were firing up the furnace, hopefully one last time. It likely brought a bit of relief to local law enforcement officers regarding a growing incidence of nuisance complaints.

Cooler temperatures meant most people had their windows closed, drowning out the barking dogs that at spring’s onset had triggered many complainants to call police ‘howling’ mad.

“It definitely is a concern for many neighborhoods,” said Police Chief Bill Holland. “Excessive dog barking is a nuisance, and can be a violation of city codes.”

Veterinarians often attribute excessive, nuisance barking to boredom or loneliness for the dog. In many instances, it is a learned behavior, often as a response to stimulus meant to break the habit. Owners can think they are rewarding a dog to stop barking, but ultimately the canine learns that it gets a treat by barking, and then stopping.

In situations when the owner can not identify the events that trigger nuisance barking, or are unable to remedy these situations, experts often recommend bark control products such as spray or stimulation collars or tone correction units.

Citronella spray collars are one type of bark control device. The collar detects barking and emits a safe, but unpleasant spray of citronella in front of the dog’s face.

Stimulation collars detect the dog’s bark and emit a small static electric impulse.

Tone correction units use a loud sound to distract the barking dog.

A recent study by PetSafe concluded that bark-control devices were effective in more than two thirds of the animals surveyed. It also noted that once training is completed, the devices may no longer be needed.

“These devices cost on average, some where between $40 to $80,” Holland said. “In the end, that is cheaper than a ticket and definitely goes a lot further to promote good relations with neighbors.”

City Prosecuting Attorney David Peppard noted on average a public nuisance citation can cost $100 in fines.

Holland noted that officers are not patrolling in search of barking dogs, but do respond to citizen complaints regarding nuisance situations.

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