All dogs bark, but in some cases the barking may become a real neighbourhood nuisance, greatly reducing the quality of life for neighbours and increasing neighbourhood tension. Here’s some simple tips to help address your dog’s barking.

1. EXERCISE: A tired dog will not bark if its resting or sleeping. Regular exercise tires your dog physically and if you add some training activities to your walk, such as sit and drop at regular intervals, you will wear him out mentally as well.

If your dog barks during the day, consider walking him in the morning before you leave for work.

2. BORED: Give your dog a chew toy containing food just before you leave home. Or create a treasure hunt by hiding food around the yard rather than putting it all in a bowl. Your dog will spend ages trying to get to its breakfast!

Provide some toys, a meaty bone or some treats, such as a doggy ice block made by freezing a bone in a container filled with water. Make sure to change your dog’s toys regularly – he needs two or three different distractions each day.

You can also create a digging haven by burying treats. A clam shell pool filled with dirt or sand is great for this.

3. DISTURBED: If your dog is barking at every disturbance outside your yard, be it people or other animals some of the following may assist:

Block your dog’s view so he can’t see beyond the fence. Some black plastic sheeting or matting attached to your fence could work.

Secure your dog inside or in the back yard, away from distractions.

Or den (crate) your dog in a comfortable but secure location. The den or crate becomes your dog’s “security blanket”. Be sure to follow the RSPCA recommendations.

4. LONELY: Dogs are pack animals and generally don’t like to be alone.

Consider hiring a dog walker to walk your dog during the day or send your pet to doggy daycare. An alternative is to organise a dog “play date” with a friend’s dog so the two pets can entertain each other.

Or if you are able, take your dog for a walk during your lunch break.

5. ANXIOUS: The most common form of anxiety is separation anxiety and occurs when you leave your dog alone.

Just knowing you are about to leave the house can spark excessive barking. It’s therefore important not to make a

fuss when you leave or return home. When you make a big deal of leaving or returning it becomes a big deal for your pet.

Dogs pick up on patterns very quickly and can anticipate your movements, so another option is to vary your routine so you don’t trigger the anxiety.

You can also try leaving the radio or TV on when you are out or leaving your dog in a small room, like a laundry, with some clothes or other items that have your scent on them.

For more information please visit www.cairns.qld.gov.au/barking

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