Our dogs and noise pollution Print E-mail
News - Rubrieke
Friday, 19 February 2021 17:45
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Dr Liesel van der Merwe is a small animal medicine specialist. Send her your questions: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Dr Liesel van der Merwe

With various staff members isolating due to Covid exposure, we worked very long shifts in the first few weeks of January. I was sleeping in on my first day off, on a Sunday, only to have my neighbour’s gardener start up the leaf blower: On the roof, in the rain, to clean the gutters. I had a minor meltdown. My husband then reminded me: “What about the noise our dogs make?”

During heavy lockdown with little pedestrian traffic, the dogs were wonderfully quiet and behaved. We even saw it in the veterinary practices – almost no bite-wounds in that period. The dogs were calm and not working themselves up, enjoying having the company of their owners.

Currently people are spending more time at home, working from home, and got into the habit of walking their dogs. Sounds idyllic, but this means more dogs passing the gate and more hysterical barking from my dogs and every dog down the road.

I swear someone could take my gate of its tracks and my dogs would watch with interest, but just let there be even a whisker of a dog walking down the opposite side of the road and all hell breaks loose.

Many of us believe that our dogs are not noisy, but when we are not at home, boredom often sets in and gate watching is often the game of choice (together with digging holes, but that’s a story for another day). As pet owners we have to realise that this noise is not really acceptable for our neighbours and we need to be proactive.

Measures to adopt: Keeping the dogs in a different section of the property where they cannot see the road. Handy if you can, but not always possible. And in any case, they will often set up a racket just because they hear the other dogs on the street barking.

You can try to make the gate more solid, so that they do not sit and watch the street. I need to try this, but feel sorry that they will lose their TV. I doubt it will work 100%, but it may reduce the barking a bit.

So then, let’s bring in the technology: Anti-bark devices and bark deterrents. And yes, I hear everyone saying, “how terrible, shock collars”, but things are much more advanced than that these days.

Bark collars are perfect if you need to stop your dog from barking inside and outside or in places other than your home. Bark deterrents are good for dogs who only bark at the gate or at the neighbour’s dogs through the fence, setting off the neighbourhood.

Each pet has a different temperament, and some forms of correction work better than others for certain pets. There are four options:

Spray collars use citronella spray and give a quick squirt – ideal for sensitive dogs.

Static collars use a mild static electrical current and are more suited to stubborn dogs. It is not an electrical shock as such. Pets experience a light tingling sensation on the skin, which gets their attention or startles them and interrupts their behaviour.

Vibrating collars are ideal for deaf or sensitive dogs and give a variable degree of vibration.

Ultrasonic collars emit an irritating high-pitched sound and are ideal for small or sensitive dogs.

These collars teach your pet quickly and are safe and effective when used correctly. There are adjustable tone and strength options: From just a warning up to behaviour correction.

The bark collar should only be worn whenever you don’t want your dog to bark and remove it during times when barking is appropriate or wanted.

A bark collar helps you communicate to your dog when it is okay to bark and when it is not. Your dog’s reaction to the collar in terms of barking will depend on your usage of the collar and your dog’s temperament. Some dogs will be trained quickly and as a result may not need to wear the collar long term. Other dogs associate not barking with the collar and will only control their barking when they have the collar on.

Pet-safe anti-bark collars will not be set off by another dog’s bark. The collar ‘hears’ and ‘feels’ the bark of the dog wearing the collar so that it is only activated by the bark from the dog wearing the collar.

The unit contains a microphone that hears the bark and vibration detection that feels the vocal cords when the bark is made. If the collar doesn’t experience both of these sensations at the same time, the collar won’t issue a correction.

Bark deterrents are ideal to stop the neighbourhood choir and your own dog’s leading role. They come as little outdoor ‘birdhouses’ or indoor monitors. When your dog barks, a microphone in the bark deterrent picks up the sound and sends an ultra-high frequency sound to interrupt your dog’s bark, without hurting his sensitive ears.

The tone is annoying, but harmless and inaudible to most people. It works on all dogs within hearing range. You’ll hear fewer barks, yaps and woofs in as little as a few days.

So, it’s time to take responsibility and sort out the cacophony at the end of the driveway. I will report back on the effectiveness of the ‘birdhouse’ and fervently hope its range will include my neighbour’s three Jack Russell terriers that are left in the front garden all day and almost drive me to “canicide”.

Besoek die Suid-Afrikaanse Departement van Gesondheid se webwerf vir alle amptelike inligting en opdaterings rakende COVID-19 by www.SAcoronavirus.co.za

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