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  • Con Slobodchikoff, Ph.D.
    Slobodchikoff is President and CEO of Animal Communications, Ltd., specializing in pet behavior problems and in educating people about the behavior of animals.
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    London is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Pet Dog Trainer who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in the domestic dog.

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November 26, 2008


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Barking dogs owners are the worst kind of dog owners and the law should be more strict when a complaint is made.
I never leave my dog outside when I am not home and when I am home if he starts to bark I bring him indoors. Neighbours should not have to listen to that.It is very rude.

Randall Johnson

I live in a fairly hot town in central Minas Gerais, Brazil where normal summertime temperatures range between the mid-80s to the low 90s, so when I leave the house, whether it’s for a few minutes or an hour or more, I usually leave my dogs inside because it’s cooler. Even at night, it’s clear they prefer to remain inside, going out only to make a ‘nature call’, and I wouldn’t dream of leaving any one of them outside to sleep, even though two of them were adopted off the street. All three of them would bark their heads off if I tried to that. Besides, none of them is destructive or has status issues, so I don’t worry about what they might be doing while I’m away. Over the years I’ve noticed that friends and neighbors who have one or more dogs also tend to keep them in the house at night, too. A few try to keep them outside, and guess what? Those are the ones that usually bark or cry and wake up the neighbors in the middle of the night. The same thing applies to those who go out for the evening and leave their dog(s) outside. Sooner or later, these dogs start barking and generally don’t stop until their owner comes home. An interesting cultural note: People here are so concerned about offending someone that they often prefer to suffer in silence or pretend they didn’t hear anything rather than confront the owner of the all-night barker. They will, however, complain to other people—friends, family, other neighbors—and, sooner or later, the complaint gets back to the owner, who then has three courses of action: put the dog inside the house at night, react with indignation and do nothing, or abandon the dog in a remote part of town. Sadly, the third option continues to be the preferred choice of quite a few townspeople because we still have a lot of homeless dogs wandering around the streets.


This is an interesting observation and I agree with much of the logic as to why dogs bark when isolated from their pack, but I think there might be other reasons for the behavior not covered in the analysis. The breed type has a big influence on barking - some bark more than others; it's in the genes. Also, there actually might have been another reason why all dogs were barking that was not seen by the people who left them since obviously they weren't there. It would also be helpful to describe the type barking other than "non-stop" since there are many diff types of barks which can mean many things in "dog language". Also, depending on the level of pack socialization within the dog/human family, dogs may bark when isolated as a dominance motivated behavior as well as from what is commonly referred to as "separation anxiety", which I assume is what is being described here. Often dogs who get frightened enuff to start barking non-stop may need more distraction training. It may also be that the case that one dog is the problem "instigator" and the others just chime in because that also is normal pack behavior. If you have multiple dogs, not leaving them outside when you go may neither be a simple fix, nor the best fix, unless your house is big enough for them to run and romp together as a happy pack often enjoys. There may be other subtle reasons and they may be correctable. The crate option is of course very pertinent, but no space to fully discuss that option here :-). One last comment which I think is as important as any : "great" dog (and cat) people, particularly those who rescue, unfortunately are often not responsible pet owners, because although they have a deep passion and love for animals, they tend to neglect the responsibility for socialization and training after the adoption. To me it's like they felt so sorry for the animal's previous problems that after they are healthy and happy again, they are allowed to do whatever they wish to do with little control, socialization, behavior training or limits of any kind. I feel strongly this is NOT the proper way to care for a dog or cat and not responsible ownership. Rescued pets who are constantly showered with affection when first brought home, often get confused when things improve and the new owner settles back to a more casual relationship with them. And all rescues have "baggage" that may not surface until after things settle down a bit. They are usually not a "blank page" like a well bred little pup :-) Rescues can be a challenge and need close observation, before during and after the rescue process. Not easy and requires a lot of patience, but extremely rewarding. I get asked to work with both types of pets, and I tend to see a lot of dominance related problems with rescues, which are often reported as stubborn, hyper, aloof, independent, spoiled, and other "human traits" :-)
- so yes - you GOTTA think like a dog !!

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