Schneider, animal services manager for Washoe County Regional Animal Services, said the agency receives between 3,000 and 4,000 calls per year about barking dogs. Barking dog complaints make up about 10 percent of their daily calls.
“We take noise complaints very seriously,” Schneider said. “We understand that they can affect the quality of living for some people.”
Part of the problem with barking, Schneider said, is that noise is subjective. What one person may consider OK, another may consider as excessive.
He explained that sometimes you have owners that think barking is what dogs do but you also have people who believe that dogs should be quiet.
Schneider said that when he was an animal control officer, he received a complaint about a barking dog and went out to talk to the owner. The woman told him she brought the dog into the house every time it started barking.
He went over to talk to the neighbor who had made the call and asked them how often the dog barked. The neighbor replied, “Not very often.” Schneider asked him how long the dog barked once it started, the man replied, “Not very long.” The gentleman made a comment about how the other dogs don’t bark at all, Schneider had to explain that total silence is not the standard at which they hold all dogs.
For the first complaint, Schneider said the agency gives a courtesy note to the dog owner and provides them with a copy of the law and tips to help solve the problem.
If there is a history of complaints, animal control will send out an investigator to observe and possibly issue a citation. The first citation costs $395 and will double for every citation thereafter up to a maximum of $1,000.
Ingrid Lentz, a pet trainer at PetSmart, said barking can be a problem if the dog is left alone for a long time.
“We recommend chew toys to keep the dog entertained,” Lentz said.
Lentz also recommends that owners try collars to control the barking.
PetSmart does sell bark collars to stop dogs from barking when they are alone.
Pamela Wangsness, owner of Dog Training by PJ, disagrees with the collars.
“The problem is that they (barking collars) suppress the bark and don’t teach the dogs what to do instead,” Wangsness said. “Barking is one of the most difficult behaviors to unteach once learned.”
Wangsness said the first step is determining why the dog barks. Then pet owners can teach the dog what to do instead of barking.
PetSmart offers classes to teach how to stop unwanted behavior, including excess barking. Training classes are offered in eight one-hour long sessions and available every day. Call 354-2224 for classes.
Dog Training by PJ in Reno also offers a variety of classes. For more information, visit the Web site www.dogtrainingbypj.com.