Barking Dogs Can Annoy

By: 
Kirt Ramirez

In a city of 500,000 people, and with dogs being a popular pet, numbers of Long Beach residents experience the sounds of too much barking.

The noise can bring some out of a slumber and rattle nerves. Some are bothered while others don’t notice the yelping or mind it. There are many variables and the topic can get complicated and even awkward.

It is not illegal for a dog to bark, but if it’s ongoing and annoying, it can become a problem.

The City of Long Beach prohibits dog noise through its municipal code 6.16.110.

“No person responsible for a dog shall permit such dog to bark, howl, whine and/or make other loud and unusual noises, whether within a building or enclosure, tied, or otherwise confined, or while at large upon any public street, sidewalk, improvement, park or other public place, or private property, which disrupts the public peace or which causes discomfort or annoyance to any reasonable person of normal sensitiveness residing in the area,” the code reads.

The city’s Animal Care Services (ACS), formerly known as Animal Control, received 443 barking complaints in 2017, noted ACS Manager Ted Stevens.

The agency does not typically respond physically to calls about barking due to limited resources but does mail out warning letters.

“It’s a very difficult thing for us to enforce,” Stevens said.

If the resident feels comfortable, Stevens recommends communicating with the pet owner directly in a neighborly fashion to try and resolve the problem.

If that isn’t an option, or doesn’t work, the resident can call ACS and the agency will mail the person responsible a warning letter that a complaint has come in and that future violations could result in a citation.

Animal Control says:

  • Determine what causes the dog to bark.
  • Dogs are less inclined to bark if a barrier blocks their view.
  • Be alert and stop the barking as soon as it starts.
  • Train your dog to respond to commands to be quiet.
  • Reward your dog whenever it barks for a watchdog reason.
  • Don’t leave an animal unattended for long periods of time.
  • Train your dog to stay quietly within its quarters when you are away.

Animal Control adds:

  • The best cure for a barking habit is prevention early in a dog’s life.
  • If a dog already has a barking habit, then you must make efforts to correct the situation.
  • Whatever training method you choose, be consistent and persistent with the animal.
  • Simple scolding and punishment may be sufficient.
  • When left alone in a house, help the loneliness by leaving a radio on.
  • To help either an indoor or outdoor dog with boredom, be sure to have some toys available for amusement.
  • Don’t make a big thing out of leaving or retuning home; an overly excited dog is more likely to bark and yelp.
  • You may consider taking the animal to an obedience training school if the dog is too neurotic for an inexperienced trainer.
  • Your dog will soon learn that his or her silence pleases you.
  • Bark collars, the electronic ones, are the most successful and most important; only the dog wearing it feels the interrupter. The citronella spray bark collar and the noise bark collar can be triggered if other dogs close by are barking.

If the dog continues the woofing, ACS can take other measures against the owner if evidence is provided, such as petitions.

“The evidence we need is the petition signed and submitted from at least 2-3 residents who state under penalty of perjury that there is a violation,” Stevens said through email.

“If we can confirm from the witnesses that there is a violation, we issue administrative citations for $100 for the first violation, and it goes up in fine amount up to $500 once we get to three citations,” he said. “We give the animal owner time, usually 1-2 weeks in-between citations to correct the problem.”

Stevens continued, “If after three citations there is still an issue, we have a mediation hearing with all parties, then the last resort is criminal filing with the city prosecutor.”

He added all administrative citations can be appealed and that a mediator is brought in.

“We have to hire someone to be the hearing officer for appeal hearings,” he said.

Resident Diana Lejins expressed, “I’m a tried and true animal lover and I have always been a responsible pet owner, but not everyone is.”

Lejins lamented, “I have personally been plagued with a very loud barking dog in my neighborhood waking me up at all times of the night, disturbing my sleep and literally making me sick.”

The dog barks for long periods of time at other hours as well, she added.

“Perhaps we would fare better if the problem of noise pollution from dogs be handled by the health department or the police rather than Animal Care Services,” she said.

Lejins has called the police but animal-related calls are referred to ACS. She said ACS did the best it could.

Many pet stores offer dog training.

Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Behavior Specialist Alexandra Macias, owner of Alex Macias Dog Training, provides group classes at Centinela Feed & Pet Supplies and also takes private clients. As a first basic step, she said to pick a command like “That’s enough.”

She said to set up a practice situation where the dog will bark. For example, if the dog barks at people who walk by the house, have a friend walk back and forth in front of the home for a couple of minutes. As the friend walks by, say the command and begin feeding treats rapidly.

The feeding keeps them too busy to bark, desensitizes them to the trigger dog walking by and rewards them for sitting there quietly, she explained. The treats can gradually be faded out over a couple of weeks. The dog will then stop barking when he hears, “That’s enough.”

“They’re choosing to eat the treat and not to bark, she added. And they’re getting rewarded for doing so.”

Regarding products, her favorite is the “Pet Corrector,” a harmless can of compressed air.

If setting up a practice situation is not realistic, one can correct the dog’s barking as it’s happening by using the Pet Corrector. First say, “That’s enough,” and then if they don’t stop, spray. The sound of the compressed air startles them out of barking. Make sure to praise the dog and give a treat once the barking stops, she added.

“We want them to understand ‘That’s enough’ means to stop barking,” Macias said.

More information about her training can be found at alexmaciasdogtraining@gmail.com.

kirt@beachcomber.news

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