Why some dogs are more prone to nuisance barking

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Melbourne, Oct 18 (ANI): A new survey, conducted by researchers from the University of Queensland's Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, has found why city-living domestic dogs may be prone to nuisance barking.

Barking can be classified as being a nuisance when it causes distress or interruption to the life of the dogs' owners or neighbours.

For the study, the researchers conducted a case-control survey of 150 dog owners including 72 dogs whose owners had sought treatment for nuisance barking.

The results of the survey suggest that dogs most likely to become nuisance barkers are young dogs from herding breeds such as collies and kelpies, those bred in a home environment, have access to indoors or live with other dogs.

Professor Clive Phillips, co-author of the study, says the work was prompted by the high number of public complaints and inquiries about nuisance barking, with studies suggesting approximately a third of dog owners possess at least one nuisance barker.

"We wanted to look at the factors relating to the dog, the owner and the environment that may increase the risk of nuisance barking," ABC Online quoted Phillips as saying.

He says that barking may be caused by separation anxiety, perceived threats in the environment and sometimes to simple social interaction, canine-style. But human actions and responses also play a role.

The survey showed the greatest risk factor was the age of the dog. More than a quarter of those dogs that had been classified as nuisance barkers were less than a year old.

At that age many dogs use barking as part of the learning process, said Phillips

The researchers were surprised to find that dogs bred at home were more prone to be nuisance barkers.

"We had thought that dogs from shelters would be more likely to be nuisance barkers because they often arrive in shelters because of behavioural problems. It may be that homebred dogs are greater barkers because of greater separation anxiety," Phillips said.

The study has been published in this month's issue of Australian Veterinary Journal. (ANI)

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