August 21st, 2018
Is it True that Dogs Bark More in the Summertime?
It is summertime and the phones at the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC) are busier than ever. Our communications center team report many of these calls are to complain about barking dogs. “Is this because it is warm, windows are open and more outdoor sounds are making their way into homes?” wonders one customer service employee. This may be part of the problem.
Why do dogs bark?
Barking is a means of vocal communication for dogs and can mean different things in different situations. Our dogs may alert us when someone is at the door or on our property; they are the alarm system that loves us back. They are triggered by other dogs barking in the neighborhood, or are ordering the neighbor’s cat, “get off my wall.” Dogs may bark because they are bored. Possibly, they are left alone for long periods of time in the house or the back yard. The family may be away at work or summer activities, leaving them alone for hours without any stimulation.
Calls to the Department of Animal Care and Control to report excessive barking do increase during the summer months. Days are longer and the weather is better, so family dogs are spending more time outside. Children are out of school, laughing, playing, and making sounds dogs don’t ordinarily hear, so they respond. Families go on vacation and leave their dogs in the care of a pet sitter. Dog routines are interrupted, their people are gone and which may lead to excessive barking due to separation anxiety. If you suspect your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, a visit to a veterinary behaviorist is necessary.
I have to go to work; what can I do to keep my dog entertained and my neighbors happy?
• Exercise your pet prior to leaving for the day. Each dog requires different levels of exercise, so plan accordingly.
• Provide your pup with daily enrichment to expend mental energy. Work-to-eat toys such as Kongs, Toppls or Tug-a Jugs are great options that require your dog to solve a puzzle to get their meal or treats.
• New apps are on the market such as “Petcube” that allow you to interact with your dog from afar.
• Pets left inside might enjoy music or television to reduce distractions from outside.
• If your dog is social with other dogs, consider having your dog attend day care a couple day per week. Another option to consider would be having a dog walker visit once midday.
• If you are unsure if your dog is barking when you are absent, purchase a webcam to monitor your dog’s behavior to ease your mind.
Is another barking dog causing your distress?
• Reach out to the dog’s owner in a friendly way. They may be very surprised to learn their dog is barking or that their dog’s barking is disturbing you. Many times neighbors are thankful to be made aware of this problem. Be sure to let them know when the barking occurs and how long it continues.
• If the barking continues, don’t forget to let your neighbor know. They may have taken some action they believe remedied the situation, especially if they do not hear from you again.
• If your neighbor is unwilling or unable to solve the problem and your quality of life is adversely affected, reach out to your local animal care and control agency to report your concern.
• NOTE: Our reporting process for the communities served by DACC are described on our website http://animalcare.lacounty.gov/animal-noise-complaint-form/
We have recently simplified the process for reporting.
So, do dogs bark more in the summertime? Maybe.
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