Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dealing With Annoying Animals

From Cheryl Falkenburry, Animal Behavior Coach

I’m sick and tired of people allowing their dogs to bark incessantly and animals that roam and poop in my yard — including cats. Is there anything I can do to get the neighbors to control their animals? I work hard to keep my animals under control, and it’s so inconsiderate that they don’t do the same.

Everyone has different ideas of how to take care of their animals. Some feel that dogs and cats should be free to roam like animals do in the wild in order to keep them happy. Some like to leave animals outside for a warning system if someone approaches. Although, I can understand this thought process, it is difficult to keep animals safe when they are left to roam or kept outside all the time. They do not understand boundary lines unless they are taught and supervised. There are wild animals, cars, and diseases that can harm animals who are allowed to roam.

Dogs kept tied up or kept in a fence all day begin to bark at everything out of boredom, soon the barks are ignored taking away the effectiveness of a warning system. It is much more responsible to keep animals at home and supervised.

Cats should be kept indoors to keep them from catching serious diseases like Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). If people are concerned that their cat will not be happy indoors, they can build an enclosed cat run where cats can go outside in a safe environment.

As far as barking dogs, a bored dog is a loud dog. As much as I love animals, I don’t like to hear them barking incessantly either. It’s difficult to think or sleep with all the noise. People should be considerate of their neighbors even if they live in a rural area.

Some barking is to be expected. Dogs bark when they play, they bark when someone approaches, and they bark at deer running by. I personally like to have my dogs bark a little to warn me that something needs my attention. I also enjoy watching dogs happily playing and barking with joy. However, uncontrollable barking is annoying. Dogs should have an “off” switch to their barking—such as a “Quiet” or “Enough” command. Unfortunately when a dog is left outside all the time, there is no human there to give the command.

For those of you who have a barking Bowser next door, you may want to give your neighbor a gift basket with interactive toys for the dog (Kongs and Bustercubes) and a copy of my Barking Bowser article found on my website. (If you don’t have Internet access, call me and I’ll send you a copy.) This is a nice way to give a hint that perhaps they need to work on their barking issue.

If cats are relieving themselves in your garden, you can get some motion sensor sprayers (Sscat is one brand for cats) to put around and make your garden less attractive. Tin foil under the bushes also helps as cats don’t like to walk on the crunchy foil.

The bottom-line is everyone should be responsible for their own animal. Even if you live in an area where there are no leash laws and barking dogs are exempt from noise ordinances, take the time to pay attention to what your animals are doing.

Is it possible they are being a nuisance to someone else? Is there something you can do about it to be a good neighbor and a responsible animal guardian? When we make animals a part of our family and teach them to be responsible canine and feline community members, everyone is happy — the neighbors, the family, and most important — the animals.

Cheryl Falkenburry, Animal Behavior Coach, helps make sense of mind-boggling animal behavior. Visit her website for other behavior tips. Set up a private session to work directly on your pet's problem.

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