Dog barking complaints are on the rise.
Dog barking complaints are on the rise. Claudia Baxter

We're going barking mad

THE continual barking of neighbourhood dogs is enough to drive most residents mad - and the problem is getting worse in Ipswich.

Complaints to Ipswich City Council about noisy pooches are on the rise, with more than 1250 grievances registered for 2011 - 235 up on the previous year.

Councillor Andrew Antoniolli said the issue was taken seriously by council and 69% of complaints were cleared up after the initial report.

He said council encouraged dog owners to be responsible and take appropriate steps to ensure their pet was not a neighbourhood nuisance.

The council procedure involves educating pet owners, who are often unaware their beloved pet has become a pest.

"By and large once owners know their dog is creating a nuisance they take steps to minimise the level of disruption to their neighbours," he said.

Cr Antoniolli said the complainants were contacted two weeks after the report to gauge the success of the intervention.

Follow-up visits involve door-knocking the area, listening for the offending dog's barking and in some cases using a bark count collar.

"If at that time the dog is still causing a nuisance a council officer will investigate further," he said.

Dog behaviour expert Neil Erskine from Bark Busters believes noisy dogs are the most common cause of neighbourly disputes.

Mr Erskine said every dog was capable of making the transformation from ferocious Fido to peaceful pooch.

The techniques he uses to transform the dogs from obnoxious to obedient include watching their body language and choosing the right time to lay down the law.

"The way a lesson goes is we sit down and have a cup of coffee and work out a plan that will work. By the end of the session the dog's under control," he said.

Mr Erskine said facing the loss of a beloved dog was the last thing any pet owner wanted.

"It's an emotional thing - it's like people's kids in danger of being taken away from them. It's their family and in some cases their only family," he said.

If a noisy dog continues to irk its neighbours, council can hand out enforcement notices, infringements and potentially prosecute the owner.

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