April 5, 2012
Animal Control Officer
P.O. Box 304
Arlington, VT 05250
RE: Barking Complaint
Thank you for your call alerting us of a complaint about barking dogs at our home. This letter is being written to formally apologize to you and to the anonymous complainant for any annoyances that may have been caused by our enthusiastic dogs. We are truly sorry that our dogs may have disturbed anyone and sincerely regret having been inconsiderate. Please note the following steps we are taking to reduce barking by our canine family members:
• All of our dogs are licensed with the Town of Arlington and are current on all required vaccinations.
• We have installed a secure fence behind which our dogs will be kept when outdoors in our backyard. We will never leave our dogs unattended outside in their fenced backyard for more than a reasonable period of time required for their normal bodily eliminations. When they bark at the backdoor, alerting us that they are ready to come back inside the house, we will be careful to respond and let them inside immediately.
• We will never leave our dogs outside when we are not present in our home. I have always taken my dogs with me in my car when I leave the house (except on hot days), and will continue to do so.
• When infrequent visitors and delivery persons come to our house, we will make every effort to curtail intruder alert barking. Barking on those occasions cannot, however, be prevented. It is natural for most dogs to bark, warning intruders.
• I will try to limit barking during play and training sessions to the least amount possible. My dogs and I participate in the sports of dog agility, disc throwing, and canine musical freestyle. When agility training each of my dogs at our residence, I will keep the other dogs in our family in crates to reduce barking. However, we have high-drive herding dogs that are vocal when stimulated. We usually play Frisbee in the midday hours, for a maximum period of time of 30 to 40 minutes per session. We usually play or train only one session per day. At the most, we play twice. Occasional barking may be heard during our playtimes.
• We will make every effort to stop our dogs immediately when instinctive barking at wildlife occurs. We live on the side of Ball Mountain and our property abuts thousands of acres of wildlife habitat. When we allow the dogs to go outside of the house into their fenced-in backyard, they may occasionally see or scent the presence of wild animals including coyote, bear, woodchuck, porcupine, skunk, and many others, on our property outside our fence. We will change the schedule of their nighttime elimination trips so that they are completed before 10:00 p.m.
As a dog trainer, I believe in positive reinforcement training methods as the best approach toward achieving the goal of a happy canine that is a pleasure to live with. As such, we will not use electric shock collars to teach our dogs not to bark. It is an unfortunate coincidence that our loudest dog is a rescue that had been severely abused when we found her. She is extremely sensitive to all forms of corporal punishment.
We love our dogs and take our responsibilities as their caretakers very seriously. We are not the types of dog owners that would ever leave our dogs tied up outside, which is the most common cause of annoying, frequent habitual barking. I hate that type of barking, too!
No neighbors are visible from our 4+ wooded acres, but I suspect that the sound of our dogs’ barking is magnified by the location of our property, which is situated hillside, overlooking the Batten Kill. Personally, we find the sound of traffic on Highway 313 to be a distracting annoyance related to our home’s location. And, it is commonplace for us to be startled by loud explosions from our target-shooting neighbors’ shotguns, even at night. But, we cannot change the fact of the amplification of sound that the river may cause. For our part, all we can do is try to reduce the frequency of the occasional barking that may continue to occur on our property.
We love living in Arlington. We moved here in 2006, and have become active members of the Northshire community. We relocated from suburban life with gated communities and planned unit development codes so that we could enjoy living in a relaxed, rural setting. One of the reasons we chose our site is due to its privacy so that our dogs could exercise and play, and occasionally bark. It is my understanding that we would be allowed to keep chickens or other livestock on our property that would possibly create noises that may be annoying to others. Roosters can be much more noisy than an occasionally barking border collie!
In summary, we will make every effort to reduce the barking that originates on our property. We will limit the incidence of play and training to a maximum period of one hour per day. We will take care to prevent barking after 10:00 p.m.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss our plans to reduce the frequency of barking by our dogs with the Arlington resident who complained. We would be happy to respect the wishes of our neighbor with regard to the timing of our play sessions. Perhaps the person works a late shift, and sleeps during particular times of the day. We could work out a schedule that would be mutually compatible and agreeable. Please provide our phone number to the complainant if they would like to discuss the issue with us directly.
Thank you for your understanding. We appreciate the work that you do!
P.S. Please feel free to provide this letter to the complainant.