Questions about dog behavior and training? Send them to:

Monday, March 10, 2008

Barking Dogs, Inconsiderate Neighbors


Our neighbor has two dogs, I’m not sure what kinds, I think one is a Sheltie (small collie looking) and one is short and long and hairy like a hairy wiener dog. Anyway, they put them in a fenced area near our house and they bark all day starting at 6:15 am. When we complained they said that’s what we should expect in the country – dogs bark. We put up an electronic, silent beeper thing, but it doesn’t seem to faze them. They are not very thoughtful people and reasoning has not worked. Any suggestions?

Thank you,

When you have already determined that the people are not thoughtful and won't accept reasoning, you can make another assumption: their dogs aren't getting what they need either.

At this juncture, you have justification to call your county animal control officer. It can't hurt! An ACO may be able to come out and cite the people for creating a noise nuisance. Or perhaps he'll just show up to assess the situation. He may offer you and the neighbor other options. To protect your credibility, make a log of when the dogs are actually barking. Heck, make a recording of it too. Sometimes owners aren't even aware their dogs bark while they are away, or they think you're complaining about a couple minor barks.

As you've discovered, those beeper gadgets don't work too well. No-bark collars, however, work quite well. The problem is convincing your neighbors to purchase them and use them. Their only incentive for that might be monetary--i.e., the threat of a fine or lawsuit.

I would continue to try to be as diplomatic and helpful as possible in your tone with them. Present them with some possible solutions--anything from putting the dogs inside to taking them for more leash walks or even taking them through some training classes because the dogs would love it so much. Their dogs are barking from boredom, and a better exercised dog won't have as much energy to bark. PERHAPS you could even volunteer to walk their dogs for them???? There's nothing like a good three-mile jog to wear out most dogs!

Frankly I'm not optimistic any of these things will help, but they're worth trying. The best thing you can do is to avoid creating animosity with these people, since they may take out their anger with you on their dogs. Try hard to keep your dealings as friendly as you can. This, ultimately, will give you more clout as an adviser on dog matters.



Sarah P. said...

My father had the same problem with our neighbor's dogs back in the 1970's. He used to provide portable public address systems, the great big loudspeakers used at fairs and demolition derbys, etc. He got sick of the constant barking one day and recorded the dogs, then set up his loudspeaker system pointed at their house and played it the middle of the night! Mind you, most people didn't have air conditioning back then and it was summer time, so you knew their windows were open! I was young and don't remember if this solved the problem, but I do remember thinking it was VERY FUNNY! He would probably get in trouble for that nowadays.

JJ said...

Been there done that. We had neighbors in the past that kept a dog chained in the backyard - it barked almost continuously all night long (neighbor worked nights). This guy was a real low-life. We placed a complaint to the proper authorities about mistreatment of the animal, but nothing was done.

In a different house, we had a neighbor with two terriers. These dogs yipped all the time when the neighbor was not home - which was a lot of the time as he was in the restaurant biz. He swore up and down that his dogs never barked - sure when he was home, they were happy to be with their master and they behaved - he couldn't seem to understand that they probably missed him when he was gone and became obnoxious as hell. Unlike the previous neighbor, this guy bent over backwards to minimize the noise (once he got over his denial). But I think that's pretty rare. In this case, I think it was a cultural thing (his heritage was Thai and Indian).

Unfortunately, I think the response that Laurie got from her neighbors is typical. Basically, "we live in a rural area where there are no noise ordinances. Dogs bark. If you don't like it, move to a gated community with lots of rules." Or to paraphrase, "It's my god-given right to be as inconsiderate as I want as long as I'm not breaking the law. So screw you, there's nothing you can do about it."

I don't know about those folks, but my mama raised me to be considerate to other people. I don't know why this attitude is so prevalent in this country.

The only thing to do is to try and be civil and hope some manners rub off on them. I used to dream of the scenario that Sarah P. mentioned - but unfortunately, that's likely to just escalate the problem. Forget trying to convince them to put no-bark collars on their dogs. Ain't gonna happen.

Good luck!