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Monday, 12 November 2012

Neighbourhood watch

Hi, can someone suggest a solution to this problem, please.

Someone down my back alley has a young dog that they seem to put out in the back yard an awful lot. When they do this, he barks and yelps, sometimes for hours. It is absolutely heart-rending to hear. I've worked out which house it is and would like to call round and tell them. However, I would like to turn up with some kind of solution, not just a complaint. I was thinking maybe if they put him (her) out with a stuffed Kong? I live in a rough area and have no idea if this family will be a drug-dealing, gun-toting family, but if I call the RSPCA I know they'll do nothing at all because there have been worse cases of cruelty round here and they haven't bothered.

Ideally if someone could point me to a website where I could print out a list of suggestions about separation anxiety that the family could follow. Maybe I could chicken out and just shove it through their letterbox and run!

Tracy Neil, via Facebook

Dave Griffiths, Senior Policy Adviser, National Dog Warden Association, advises...

Dear Tracey,

I think every organisation or individual involved with dogs would agree that this is not an ideal scenario. However, unless the dog is left out without any water or shelter, this is not strictly a matter for the RSPCA. Remember that their officers are inundated with cases of cruelty and mistreatment so they can’t often deal with calls that are outside their remit.

Your local District/Borough/City Councils have Environmental Health departments that contain both Dog Wardens and officers who investigate noise complaints. If the noise is unreasonable, excessive and is adversely affecting your enjoyment of your own home, it can be investigated by that department for you under sections 79 to 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Although this does not directly benefit the welfare of the dog, the dog owners will be informed that a complaint has been made and will be offered help and advice if they ask for it. Why not give your local Council a ring and chat through the options with them?

However, you are quite right in that it is always better if neighbours communicate and try to resolve problems amicably before bringing in the authorities. The dog owners may be a little defensive at first but usually come to appreciate that you haven’t reported them and will value the help you are offering.

Separation anxiety is a difficult problem to solve and there isn’t usually a quick fix solution. There is a lot of advice out there but the RSPCA and Dogs Trust both have sections on their website that may help and that I have used myself in the past;

However, working through these problems take a lot of time and patience and, even then, there are times when the solution is a recognised dog behaviourist or trainer.

Dave Griffiths

(Senior Policy Adviser, National Dog Warden Association)


  1. That is very very distressing. Try and enlist support from neighbours and contact your local Dog Warden. Explain to him/her that you are not suggesting cruelty but noise nuisance in the first instance. If your views are supported by others they will carry more weight. Poor pup.However your local council should investigate this.

  2. What a difficult position to be in! Patricia McConnell has a booklet on treating SA called I'll Be Home Soon. It's quite short, but if it's anything like any of her other booklets it will have all the information in it they they need to treat this issue (assuming they want to treat it!), and may just entice them with how short it is (I believe it's under 40 pages) if they don't have much of a care one way or the other. But as "In the Pink" says, if you could get a few neighbours on board, and talk to them to express your worries for the puppy, that will probably be the best way forward.

  3. It could be that this poor dog does not have adequate shelter or water/food available either.

    It's possible that if the dog is left out while the onwers are working that they are unaware that there is a problem, so it is a bit of a dilema.

    I know that in the first instance the Dog Warden will usually ask if you have spoken to the family about the dog, but in view of the fact that winter and bad weather is fast approaching, it may be better to contact the authorities anyway and express your concerns as to the welfare of this poor dog.


  4. Thank you. I will try the dog warden and see what they say.

  5. It may be worth looking at the Defra website. I came across this a while ago and it is a leaflet about barking dogs BUT it does actually suggest reasons for it and positive solutions (rather than punishment):