One of the most frequent types of call we receive is about dogs barking – the caller is usually concerned about the welfare of the dog, and worried that it is being left on its own for long periods of time.

Although these situations are far from ideal, often all we can do is give advice to the dog’s owner.

Sometimes an owner is blissfully unaware of the extent of their dog’s barking because it’s only happening when they are out of the house.

Neighbours can help each other by talking things over and trying to reach an understanding about the extent of the problem.

As a dog owner, there are some simple steps you can take to cut down the amount of noise your dog is making:

•If you dog barks at things outside, screen the windows or draw the curtains.

•If you live in a semi-detached house, try to house the dog away from party walls.

•Make sure your dog gets sufficient exercise before you go out – a tired dog will bark less.

•Leave your dog with toys, puzzles and chews to play with (search for ‘canine enrichment’ online), and put on a radio or TV.

•When you’re home, if your dog barks to known ‘triggers’ such as the postman arriving, use a toy to divert their attention and praise your dog for not barking.

If the reason for your dog’s barking is that he or she is guarding their territory, the measures above will help.

But if the reason is that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, you will need to teach your dog that’s it’s OK to be left alone.

You may be tempted to monitor your pet’s behaviour remotely, using an app on your phone or by installing webcams in your house.

This could be counterproductive and make you a more anxious owner, and anxiety is contagious.

If you are worried about leaving your dog, your demeanour will probably reflect this and your dog will pick up on your tension.

Teaching your dog to overcome separation anxiety can take several months and needs lots of patience from you and positive reinforcement for your dog.

New habits take hundreds of repeats to bed in and to become a pattern of behaviour.

A well-tested approach is to repeat leaving your dog for very short periods of time, so that they learn that when you leave, you come back.

Put on your coat and pick up your keys, and leave the house without a fuss (keep everything very low key); wait a minute, and then calmly walk back in again.

Then gradually build up the time that you leave your dog.

If your dog barks when they hear you arriving back home, don’t reward this behaviour by rushing to be with them.

Wait until there’s a brief lull before opening the door so that your dog learns that only when they’re calm will you walk in, and keep at it.

And please don’t think that getting a second dog will automatically solve the separation anxiety problem, because this may make a tense dog even more insecure.

Recent research has concluded that the dogs who bark the most are males in multi-dog households.

We have a beautiful female border collie looking for a home to call her own.

Nala is five years old, and came to us after a bereavement in her previous family.

She’s a typical collie – super intelligent, nervous of her own shadow, chases cars … but very receptive to training.

Ideally she should be the only pet in her new home, which should be a quiet and calm one.

Her new owner(s) will need to take their time with Nala, and to build up her trust in them, as well as be able to offer her an active and energetic lifestyle.

If you would like to meet her, please contact the kennels team on [email protected].