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Homeowner associations often experience complaints about barking dogs. This one is a no brainer since virtually all dogs bark when left alone and sometimes when master is home.

According to experts, determining why the dog barks is the first step in training the dog not to bark. The typical causes for barking dogs are:

  • Boredom
  • People teasing the dog
  • Hostile neighbors
  • Separation anxiety
  • Changes to a dog’s life or lifestyle
  • Health issues such as irritations or discomforts
  • Distractions
  • Lack of shade, food or water
  • Breeding season

While dogs can be difficult to control, humans are ultimately in control of the situation, so:

Contact the Dog Owner.

Make them aware of the problem. Discuss the situation calmly with the owner for the most effective way to resolve the problem. In many instances, a dog is barking when the owner is away from the home and the owner may not be aware of the problem. Owners tell animal control officers that they wished someone had talked to them before calling animal control. If you are hesitant about contacting the dog’s owner in person, animal control suggests that you leave a polite note on the door with your name and number to discuss the problem.

Contact the Homeowner Association.

If speaking with the owner does not work, contact the HOA and request intervention. Virtually all governing documents have a nuisance provisions or a rules regarding disturbing neighbors. If the dog owner fails to comply with the HOA’s warning letter, the HOA has the right and duty to impose a reasonable fine which often has positive results. The fine should include an appeal process.

Contact Animal Control or Law Enforcement.

The local animal control office has the authority to deal with noise issues. The police might be called if the animal in question is aggressive or dangerous.

Here are some creative solutions to reducing barking:

  • The board can ask a professional to speak on the subject at the annual meeting.
  • The complaining party could offer to walk the offending dog while the owners are away – a tired dog barks less.
  • The owners can reduce the dog’s barking stimulation by restricting its line of sight by covering openings in the gate and fence.
  • Dog daycare helps prevent boredom and removes the barking issue when the dog is away.
  • Hire and work with a professional dog trainer (see www.BarkBusters.com)
  • Citronella anti-bark collar. The collar sprays a light mist of citronella in front of the dog’s nose when the dog barks–dogs do not like the hissing sound or the smell of the citronella.
  • Anti-barking shock collars
  • Electric devices such as “Bark Free” responds to a barking dog up to 50 feet away by emitting a high pitched tone that humans cannot hear and that dogs do not like.
  • Debarking surgery (dogs have a fold of tissue on each side of the larynx which must tighten and vibrate to bark)–debarking surgery removes this tissue. After the operation, the dog only has a muted bark. This procedure is controversial and some experts claim that some or all of the barking returns over time. Since the surgery can be unsatisfactory and because many people consider it cruel, veterinarians seldom suggest debarking as a solution to barking problems.

Dogs will do what dogs do no matter how well you dress them up. If your HOA has a barking dog problem (and all do), take advantage of one or more of these solutions. WOOF! WOOF!

Excerpts from an article by Beth Mulcahy For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to the home of The HOA Expert

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