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Barking dog expert offers paths to quiet

By BARBARA FREDRICKSEN, Times Columnist
Published October 13, 2007


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Earlier this year, I wrote a column about annoying barking dogs, or, to be more accurate, annoying people who let their dogs bark.

The response was immediate and voluminous, a tiny bit from barking dog defenders but mostly from barking dog victims, and, my goodness, they are everywhere -- in apartments, in the country, in neighborhoods, even in some work places.

One of the most interesting and informative responses came from Craig Mixon of Sonoma, Calif. (Don't you just love how quickly the Internet connects us? He even spelled my name correctly.)

Mixon identifies himself an educational psychologist with a doctorate in behavior modification who specializes in, among other things, "the behavior of canines."

He has spent thousands of hours researching the problem of barking dogs and set up a Web site, barkingdogs.net, that is a well-written, well-organized encyclopedia on barking dogs and a godsend for anyone who has been audibly assaulted in their home or yard by a neighbor's incessantly barking dogs.

"Having noise force-fed into your living quarters can be a devastating, debilitating experience," he writes. "Prolonged exposure to chronic barking, or any number of other noise sources for that matter, can destroy one's health and the quality of one's existence and shred the very fabric of life for those who are forced to live in close proximity to it."

Wow. This fellow is serious.

Mixon doesn't just kvetch about barking dogs. He suggests remedies that won't hurt the dog and solicits people to join his crusade against annoying noise, "The Noise Activist's Guide," being careful to state in his First Rule of Anti-Noise Activism to do it politely, or, "a little more Monty Python and a little less Attila the Hun."

As one who is often awakened by two little yapper dogs in my otherwise wonderfully quiet and considerate neighborhood, please sign me up.

Craig's Web site sends you to YouTube videos that barking dog victims have posted of their tormentors. Just watching and listening to a couple gave me a cross-eyed headache.

Craig says force-fed noise can lead to chronic fatigue, memory impairment, school failure, anxiety, premature aging (so that's what's causing it) and one that hasn't hit me yet, loss of appetite.

The good doctor urges people to look at their own behavior to see if even we dogless people are adding to the problem.

He notes car horns, thumping basketballs, loud music, snowmobiles (or our equivalent, airboats) and leaf blowers as items we should use judiciously.

He urges us to ask ourselves, "Is this sound going to carry into my neighbor's home and, if so, how is that going to affect them?"

My own annoying noise transgressions include a 25-year-old diesel car that announces its arrival two blocks away, a part Siamese cat that sometimes howls at the full moon, but only from my back porch, which faces a big ditch, and the times my remote control accidentally lands on Fox News.

Other than that, I think I'm a pretty quiet kid.

[Last modified October 12, 2007, 21:33:37]


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