Some people are dog lovers and some are not.
But almost no one loves dogs when theyâre trying to get a good-nightâs sleep or enjoy a relaxing afternoon on their back porch.
So the town of Niskayuna should be commended for trying to find a solution to a seemingly endless and growing problem of barking-dog complaints.
Town officials are on the right track by increasing limits on how much barking is allowable.
But they need to develop a more comprehensive plan for reducing barking, identifying offenders and punishing dog owners that donât comply with the laws.
Other communities have dealt with the problem in similar ways to what Niskayuna is tryingâ setting time limits and quiet hours for barking. But their laws are tougher.
For instance, the community of Centennial, Colo., recently toughened up its eight-year-old law by restricting excessive barking to 10 minutes during the day and 5 minutes at night. Owners are issued a written warning and given five days to find a solution. After that, owners face a fine of $50 for a first offense, $75 for the second and a court appearance where a judge sets the fine.
Penalties might be the best incentive for owners to shut their dogs up.
But town officials also should try to provide education for owners to mitigate the problem, both to control barking and control the impact on neighbors.
The Humane Society of the United States suggests several techniques on its website:Â www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/how_to_stop_barking.html
For instance, if your dog barks at stimuli outside, close curtains and doors so they canât see out. It also suggests training techniques such as teaching your dog a âquietâ command, ensuring it gets enough exercise (to tire it out), and rewarding the dog for not barking.
For a businesses and individuals with multiple dogs, mitigation should include installing sound-deadening barriers along the property (fencing, berms, foliage) and more insulation and enclosed areas for housing dogs inside, as well as keeping dogs away from barking triggers such as cats and squirrels.
Neighbors also need to be educated on how to identify where barking is coming from and who to contact when it occurs.
A comprehensive approach consisting of tougher legislation, regular enforcement, education and mitigating measures should all be part of the solution.
We know itâs not as easy as it sounds. It will take more time and discussion, and not everyone will like the solution.
But itâs the path the town must continue down to keep the peace.