Sunday, March 17, 2013
Small Courtesies - The Canine Edition
First, no one likes to live next the house that has a loud or messy dog (or dogs). While poop can accumulate in the winter on account of snow, there is no excuse not to get out at least one day on the weekend to pick it all up. You might not get it all, but you need to get what is thawed and visible so it doesn't get buried. In the warm weather, poop needs to be picked up daily -- or every other day at the most. No one likes to live next to the house that doesn't pick up after the dog. We've had to put up with the smell and site of massive piles while trying to enjoy our patio -- there is no excuse for it and it is also a health hazard. Poop that sits around can attract rats and carry dangerous germs. Your neighbor might not want to confront you about it, but they can call the board of health and you might end up with a fine. We clean up the yard and it is no big deal. Since the dog eats no grains, her poop is small and it dries up into hard clumps that break into dust.
Next, consider no one appreciates barking. Ever. There are two or three specific things you can do to stop it without having to resort to a bark preventing collar. First, walk or exercise your dog. A tired dog doesn't need as much yard time for amusement and even if he or she wants to be out there all day, a tired dog won't bark/react as much and will spend time napping. Walking a dog makes them braver too because of exposure to new smells, noises and other stimulus. This will make a dog less reactive. Time walking with you will make them more secure and connected so they won't need to resort to barking for attention. Walking will introduce your dog to your neighbors more reliably than almost anything else. A neighbor who likes your dog will be more tolerant if barking does occur. In our old house, the people next door never walked the dog ant put him out on chain. He was a lunatic when we were out and it destroyed our peace. It was either constant barking or the constant smell of crap. Needless to say, we did not like them or their dogs very much.
Continual barking can lead to a fine too. How do you stop it? If your dog is out in the yard and barks, issue a warning phrase. Our phrase is "We don't do that!" I do preface this with my dog's name to get her attention. That way she knows I'm speaking to her. If she barks again, we give the cut off phrase which is "You're Done." Then she immediately comes inside and gets ignored. She can go back out in a while but if she barks again, the warning is issued. If you do this with any undesirable behavior and are 100 percent consistent with it, your dog will recognize the warning phrase and generally stop the undesired activity. You MUST be vigilant so that the dog understands there are consequences. This might seem like too much effort for you -- but what kind of neighbor does that make you if you're not willing to take the time to stop something that bothers others? Our dog now rarely barks. If she does, the warning phrase stops it. I understand her need to bark -- but she needs to understand my need for quite. That is why she gets the courtesy of a warning. Sometimes I can tell something useful from her bark and go out to investigate. But I still give her the warning to make her stop.
We spend a lot of time and effort on our dog and it's because we want a healthy and well-behaved dog -- but we also want her to be accepted by others. Training classes, grooming, good manners help our dogs -- but they are also courtesies that make life easier for those who live around our dogs. If I can impress nothing else upon those who read my blog and own a dog; I hope others see that keeping a clean yard (and picking up your dog's waste on walks) and teaching your dog not to bark will go a long way to fostering good will where you live. The icing on the cake is when people who walk by your house are hoping to see your dog in the yard so they can stop and visit.