$1,000 for a Barking Dog? That Could Be the Case for Vocal Atlanta Pups

Thankfully, there are ways to diagnose and prevent your dog's barking—perhaps saving you a little cash.

barking dog; Atlanta's barking dog ordinance
Photo: Jill Lehmann Photography / Getty

Atlanta has updated its nuisance animal ordinance, which could come with a hefty fine for dog owners.

The Atlanta City Council updated the measure this week, in an effort to cut back on disruptive noise in heavily populated Atlanta neighborhoods, as reported by WSB-TV.

Atlanta pet owners can be facing up to $1,000 in fines if their dog won't stop barking. However, these fines are avoidable, and the new ordinance might help owners understand their dogs on a deeper level.

Atlanta's New Ordinance

Prior to this amendment, Atlanta's nuisance animal ordinance stated that an owner could be fined if their dog barked for 20 minutes straight. With the new update, this time has been cut in half. Owners can now face fines after their dog has barked consistently for 10 or more minutes.

Anyone living or working within 1,000 yards of the boisterous dog or animal is able to file a complaint.

On a first offense, the owner will be charged with a fine of $150. Every offense after that results in a higher fine, going all the way up to $1,000.

While this ordinance is particularly important for dog owners to be aware of, it's important to note that it applies to any species of animal being disruptive, not just barking canines.

Why Do Dogs Bark Continuously?

Barking is a normal dog behavior, however, when a dog is barking nonstop, chances are there's a reason. (After all, think about if us humans were making noise for 10 minutes straight. We'd want someone to notice.)

Jenna Stregowski, RVT and Daily Paws' pet health and behavior editor, says there are multiple explanations why your dog is barking so much. Some common reasons include alert barking (alerting us to a potential threat), territorial barking (defending their space), and barking as a form of greeting.

Stregowski says dog owners need to be aware when barking is coming from a place of stress, frustration, boredom, or anxiety—as this is not only a problem for other people, but also the dog itself.

Separation anxiety can play a role in why many dogs might bark excessively, as dogs who experience it tend to bark for long periods of time when their owner isn't home.

In fact, Stregowski sees the new ordinance in Atlanta as a potential positive for dogs suffering from separation anxiety, as it will "maybe light a fire under [the owner] to do a little more to help their dogs."

How To Quiet Your Barking Dog

After figuring out the reason for excessive barking, there are steps you can take to prevent this behavior. (Yelling at or chastising your dog isn't one of them.)

Alert barking can be a pretty easy fix if you can figure out the dog's trigger and keep it away. If they bark at passersby, for example, you might be able to simply close your curtains. However, other causes might take more effort and expert advice.

If a dog is barking strictly out of boredom, there are ways to prevent it at home. It typically means they need more physical and mental enrichment. To achieve this, Stregowski recommends making the dog's exercise more engaging by stimulating their senses and minds, rather than just throwing them in the backyard to run around. Dogs can't always entertain themselves, so activities such as scent training and dog sports are great ways to engage your dog both physically and mentally while also building a deeper relationship with your furry friend.

It's important to note that if a dog who doesn't normally bark a lot starts excessively barking out of the blue, get them a veterinarian visit to make sure this new behavior isn't due to health issues before starting further prevention.

Combating excessive barking might require expert advice, so it is often best to consult a certified trainer or behaviorist who can guide you through the process step by step.

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