We're up in Cairns at the moment filming some travel stories for The Living Room which follows on for a trip we had about a month ago for Bondi Vet around here, so it's very quickly becoming Cairns Vet rather than Bondi Vet.
I guess, like any community, I'm sure that around here there are issues with barking dogs or dogs that are straying. It all comes down to trying to make the dog as happy as they possibly can be. Because generally that barking or that wandering is a sign they are not entirely content with their life as it is.
It's all about trying to make their life a little more interesting trying to give them a bit more exercise in the morning if you are going off to work. And then providing some sort of stimulation during the day so they aren't prone to boredom.
When they are bored that's when they bark or when they look to escape
I usually try to recommend try either leaving the radio on at home or making up a little ice block with some vegemite and some water, freezing it and putting it out into the yard so they can play with that, have a chew on that. Or even borrow a neighbour's dog that's also suffering from the same problem, and actually almost do your own little day care situation where you have two dogs sharing the back yard, and that way they have each other to rely on each other for company.
It's not just the animals that benefit from a happy life, 'coz really there are flow on effects to people as well. Obviously you're not going to be so tense with your neighbours if your dog isn't barking, but usually the great thing about getting your dog stimulated and getting them out and about is you become happier and healthier yourself through the exercise that you actually have to give them. Research has found that pets can be the most effective personal trainers out of anything, human or otherwise. So, that's a really important thing to remember, that if you make your pets happy usually you're happy yourself.
I know de-sexing sometimes freaks people out and they feel like their dogs are not going to be so masculine or have the same personality if it is done. The way I see it is it really just changes their priorities from being the neighbouring loving or fighting machine to being more of a family pet; and I think that's never a bad thing. It kinds of calms them down a little bit without them ever losing their natural personality.