Barking problems can be very challenging to resolve and can cause great stress and friction in the neighborhood. Don't let your pet's barking cause needless hard feelings between you and your neighbors. Instead, take steps to correct your dog of this undesirable habit. Guidance is available by consulting an obedience trainer, your veterinarian, resources on the internet or the Maui Humane Society.
The Maui Humane Society provides instruction, training advice and informational material that can assist a dog owner in addressing unwanted behaviors. If your dog has a barking problem, please call the Maui Humane Society at (808) 877-3680 for assistance.
Maui County Code 6.04.010 defines excessive barking as follows:
Any person convicted of a barking violation shall be fined up to $500 per charge.
Reporting a Barking Complaint
To report barking, a person must first document the barking to prove it violates county law. Download our Barking Dog Complainant Letter for detailed instructions. It is highly recommended you record the barking (either 10 minutes of continuous barking or 20 minutes of intermittent barking) as evidence to support your case. You must provide this information to our Humane Enforcement department by filling out and submitting a Barking Violation Information Form in person to the Maui Humane Society in order for them to legally take action.
Upon receiving a documented bark complaint, our Humane Officers will try to work with the owner to resolve the situation. This process should take a minimum of three weeks. If this is not effective, the Humane Officer will then fill out a report that is sent to the County Prosecutor's Office.
It is the County Prosecutor's decision whether or not to issue a fine for excessive barking, not the decision of the Maui Humane Society or its Humane Officers.
"If I report a barking complaint, will the dog be taken away from its owner?"
Dogs are never impounded just for barking complaints. The only circumstances under which we would remove a dog from its home would be if the animal is suffering, in danger, or poses imminent threat to people or animals and proper measures have not been taken by the owner to restrain, rehabilitate and confine the dog. These measures are taken to ensure the SAFETY of all parties involved, both human and animal.
"Why is my dog barking?"
Finding out why your dog barks can help you make changes to reduce barking behavior. As you take steps to fix the problem, keep your neighbors in the loop on your dog's progress. You might even need their help in determining the cause of your dog's barking.
Training a dog to control excessive or undesirable barking takes great commitment and perseverance on your part, but the benefits are great - including a good relationship with both your neighbors AND your dog!
Dogs bark for a number of reasons. Among them are the following:
1) Social Isolation/ Frustration/ Attention-Seeking Behavior
Your dog may be barking out of boredom or loneliness if he's left alone for long periods of time without opportunities to interact with you, or if his environment is relatively barren, without companions or toys. Puppies, adolescents, and particularly active dogs need outlets for their high energy and become anxious if they are not occupied.
2) Territorial/ Protective Behavior
Your dog may be barking to guard his territory if the barking occurs in the presence of 'intruders', which may include the mail carrier, children walking to school, and other dogs or neighbors in adjacent yards.
Is your dog's tail held high and are his ears up and forward? This type of posture indicates your dog is being territorial. Encouraging your dog to be responsive to people and noises outside will increase this behavior.
Recommendations: Teach your dog a "quiet" command. When he begins to bark at a passerby, allow a few barks then say "quiet" and interrupt his barking by distracting him with a loud sound or a water bottle squirt in his mouth. When he's quiet, say "good quiet" and pop a tasty treat into his mouth. Remember, the loud noise is not meant as a punishment. Your goal is to distract him into being quiet so you can reward their quiet behavior.
Desensitize your dog to intruders by socializing him and introducing him to many different types of strangers. Reward quiet behavior and responses to a "sit" or "down" command with treats. Pay attention to your dog when he is quiet so that he comes to associate such behavior with attention and praise.
Have your dog spayed or neutered to decrease territorial behavior and do NOT encourage your dog to bark at things he sees and hears outside.
3) Fear Behavior
Your dog's barking may be a response to something he's afraid of if it occurs when he's exposed to loud noises (thunderstorms, firecrackers, construction noise).
Recommendations: Identify what is frightening your dog and desensitize him to it. This process may require professional help- consult a training/ behavior specialist for guidance during your dog's rehabilitation process.
Create a safe, comfortable space that blocks off access to outdoor views that might be causing a fear response, by closing curtains or doors to certain rooms. Avoid coddling your dog. He will interpret it as being rewarded for fearful behavior.
4) Separation Anxiety Behavior
Your dog may be barking due to separation anxiety if the barking occurs only when you're gone and starts as soon as, or shortly after, you leave or if your dog displays other behaviors that reflect a strong attachment to you, or an anxious reaction whenever you prepare to leave.
Recommendations: Some cases of separation anxiety can be resolved using counter-conditioning and desensitization techniques. Successful treatment for some cases may also require the use of medication prescribed by your veterinarian.
Please be aware that while effective, bark collars do not address the underlying cause of barking. Symptom substitution may occur and your dog may begin digging or escaping, or become destructive or even aggressive. A bark collar must be used in conjunction with behavior modification that addresses the reason for the barking. There are three different types of bark collars: shock collars deliver low levels of shock to the dog, while ultrasonic/sonic collars use sound as a means of discipline. Citronella collars rely on your dog's keen sense of smell to aid in disciplining. You should never use a bark collar on your dog if his barking is due to separation anxiety, fears or phobias because punishment always makes fear and anxiety behaviors worse.
Be a good neighbor
Remember, you are a steward for your pets. Barking may not be dangerous, and cleaning up after your pet may not be the most fun part about being a dog owner, but correcting undesirable behavior and picking up after your pet are gestures of consideration toward the people and animals you share your community with.
In order to maintain peace in your neighborhood and community, you have to be a considerate neighbor yourself. Allowing your dog to defecate without disposing of it is not only unsightly; it poses a potential health hazard as feces is a contaminant and can carry disease. Please, keep your dog restrained and pick up after them.
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