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Talking dogs


Sam the dog chats to behaviour specialist Pam MacKinnon.

IT WAS an unlikely setting for a course in canine behaviour, but last week a city centre car park was set aside as an area where pet owners were given free lessons in how to ‘talk dog’.

As previously reported, Peterborough City Council had set up the session to help answer the question – why do dogs bark? The session was devised in response to complaints about dog noise. In Peterborough, the pollution control team currently receives about 200 noise complaints a year as a result of barking dogs.

An animal behaviourist, a vet nurse and vet surgeon were on hand to dish out advice to owners who had travelled from all over Cambridgeshire to Bridge House, off Town Bridge, in the city centre.

John and Diane Baker, of Orton Wistow, Peterborough, have two 13-month-old twin mongrels called Dudley and Lester. They took them along in the hope of finding out why they wanted to bark so much.

John said: ‘We just wanted a few tips. They are OK around other dogs, but when one starts, so does the other. I have started to call the louder one 'Loopy Lester'.’

‘However, we don't want them to stop barking altogether, as they can warn us of danger or intruders.’

City vets Chrissy Hazleman and Michelle Palmer gave each dog the once over to see if there was any immediate medical problem that may cause the barking.

Common reasons given to owners were that their dogs were barking for attention, or through boredom.

Tips to stop barking included giving dogs a walk before leaving them at home, and leaving the radio on quietly.

Glenys Bradbury, who lives in a village near Peterborough, turned up with her sprightly German Spitz Klein pup called Ursula.

She said: ‘I have a lot of dogs and go to many pet shows. Ursula is young and joyful but needs some control. In English the words 'Spitz Klein' translate to 'stand on a dung hill and bark'. She certainly does the barking bit.’

Animal behaviourist Pam Mackinnon added: ‘A lot of owners get confused and frustrating by their dogs. Normally the cause of the barking is simple, and once they've got to the bottom of it, it proves to be a lot better.’

The day was organised as part of National Noise Action Week.