Wednesday, January 20, 2010

(dog owner deafness phenomena)

I really don't want to seem like Grumpy Neighbor of the Year here. I wouldn't care if you leave garbage and junk out in your yard, if you never mow your lawn, if you have the occasional wild party, or even if you paint your house hot pink and put a big ugly naked statue in your front lawn. But I'm starting to think there is some phenomenon occurring, where somehow the owner of a dog is literally deaf to the sound of their own dog's barking. Because honestly, if my neighbors dog is keeping ME awake at 2:18 in the morning, I do not understand how it is not keeping them awake as well. But it's not just at night, it's during the day too. It doesn't help that right now I'm parenting a seven and half month old, and the chance to sleep for me does not come as often as it did pre-baby.
Half the reason we moved off the Air Force Base, was to get away from the excess of barking dogs that populate base housing. Everyone owns a dog, but no one walks them! I think it's especially a problem on base because the houses are so close together, lots of people have to live in duplexes, and no one can have privacy fences. But as I'm finding out after moving, its not JUST a military base housing problem. It can happen in any neighborhood.

Jason and I found from talking to other dog owners, that they never believe it is THEIR dog doing the barking. That somehow, it's always everyone else's. Well I am here to tell you dog owner, that it could very well be your dog barking. You are just experiencing the Dog Owner Deafness Phenomena. Perhaps even I have experienced this at some point. It is pretty common, and no I don't think they've found a cure for it yet. Fear not, it is not fatal. ..However it may be to your dog, if you happen to live next to a psycho with a gun. No, I'm not going to shoot anyone's dog, but it did make the cut on the list of "things not to do" when you have a neighbor with a barking dog. see How to stop your neighbor's dog from barking. I actually know someone whose dog was poisoned, so it just goes to show barking dogs really do drive people crazy and it's something that should be taken seriously.
I really don't want to go and leave an anonymous note, and I reeeally don't want my neighbors to hate me. But I'm seriously getting tired of this. The whole neighborhood shouldn't have to wear earplugs just because someone wants to keep their dog outside at night. and regardless the sound of barking is just really annoying in general when it's non-stop, day after day. If you leave your dog outside when you are not home, it is very possible that it is barking a lot then too. Please know it is NOT EASY to confront someone about their dog, so dont expect (or wait for) someone to confront you about it.

Here's a few tips:
-If you own a dog, you can't just confine it to your back yard all the time and expect it to behave itself. ..Just because it is technically outside, does not mean your dog isn't bored out of it's mind!
-You need to take it for walks. That's just part of the responsibility of owning a dog. I don't understand why so many people ignore this rule. and while naturally the age and breed of the dog needs to be taken into consideration, generally if your dog is bouncing off the walls, just a lap around the block is not going to cut it. Some dogs need LONG, DAILY walks. TOO MANY people neglect to do this and I think its the main reason their dogs are driving people crazy.
-Try to give your dog social contact with other dogs. This can be accomplished during your normal walk, or at dog parks, play dates, puppy school or doggie daycare, etc. I don't care how you do it, but it is another facet of enrichment that is good for your dog.
If they still bark non-stop, most likely you aren't walking it long enough, or giving it enough to do.
-Dogs need stimulation otherwise they resort to incessant barking (and destroying things). They need to move around in order to satisfy their traveling instincts. see The Walk. They also need to be played with regularly. Have you ever seen Victoria Stillwell's "It's me or the Dog" show? The MAIN thing she has them do to fix their dog's behavioral problems, is to WALK THEM MORE. Generally, a tired out and socialized dog is a good dog.
-Lastly, spay and neuter your dogs. There are too many dogs without homes as it is, and not enough responsible/ able dog owners out there to take them all.

If you REALLY can't walk your dog, and you can't keep it inside, and you happen to live close to other people, then either hire a dog walker, move somewhere with more space between neighbors, or don't own a dog in the first place. I know that its very easy to underestimate the huge amount of responsibility that owning a dog is when you bring one home, (believe me I've been there) and that life is busy, and it's not always easy to get your dog to behave, but the bottom line is that you are the one responsible for your dog, it shouldn't have to be everyone else's problem.

/end rant