Even the most ardent dog lovers among us become aggravated if a neighbor’s dog barks incessantly. The constant yapping can disrupt sleep, ruin your time in the yard, and generally become an ongoing nuisance. But there are some steps you can take; with effort and a little luck, you and the neighbor’s dog can peacefully coexist.
For starters, don’t blame the dog; he’s being a dog. Several things could cause the barking:
- Some breeds are more territorial than others. Whether the dog is in the house or out in the yard, he may be "protecting" his home from passing cars, someone walking near his property, or just the mailman approaching the door.
- Dogs don’t handle boredom well. If the dog is alone all day in the house or left alone in the yard for long periods of time, he may develop unwelcome compulsive habits, such as barking.
- If the dog sees or hears lots of activity outside, he may become excited enough to bark. This isn’t necessarily a warning; it may be a way to express frustration at being left out of the fun or a stress reaction to the noise and activity.
You get it, but you’re being driven to distraction by your neighbor’s barking dog. So what can you do?
- The first step is to talk to your neighbors. If they’re away from the house all day, they may not even know about the barking. Or they may be aware of it and are already working on the problem. While it might be tempting to just drop a note in their mailbox, meet your neighbors face-to-face. Leave the attitude at home and communicate in a friendly, neighborly way that the barking is becoming a problem for you and your family. Don’t assume, don’t accuse; just explain the problem and give them a chance to respond. It’s possible they’re inexperienced dog owners. In that case you might want to suggest some resources that will help them manage the barking.
- You can be proactive, as well. If the dog barks every time you step into your yard or venture near his property, try blocking his vision by planting a hedge or erecting a fence or privacy screen. If the dog’s barking is territorial, blocking his view of your property may remove the threat.
- Of course, dogs don’t just sense your presence visually. Mr. Barks-A-Lot next door can also hear or smell you. If blocking his view doesn’t help, and he still perceives you as a threat, maybe it’s time to make friends with him. Ask your neighbors if you and your family can meet their dog and let him get to know you. You might even suggest that the neighbors bring the dog over to your yard to play a bit.
If your trips to the yard are rare, your occasional presence may startle or frighten the dog. Try making time outside an ordinary occurrence. Once he’s used to the sight, sounds, and smells of his human neighbors, they may not be such a big deal to him, and he won’t feel the need to bark.
- So, you’ve done all the polite neighborly things you can to stop the annoying barking, and nothing’s changed. You may have to resort to filing a formal noise complaint. Most municipalities, landlords, and homeowners’ associations have noise regulations. You may have to do some detective work to locate the appropriate authority; in some cases, the local animal control authorities are responsible for noise complaints about barking dogs. It might be helpful to check with other neighbors to see if they’re also affected by the barking. If so, ask them if they'll file similar complaints.
- You may have to resort to contacting the police. Barking dogs are probably not high on their priority list, and you’ll have to provide them with a written record of everything you’ve done so far. But they may issue a warning or citation to your neighbor.
- Last, you can take more drastic steps when all else fails, including taking legal action by going to small claims court. Keep a record of the dates and duration of the barking, take video or audio clips on your mobile phone, and keep a record of all the steps you’ve taken so far. You might even consider hiring a lawyer to help you through the system.
Are you seeing a theme here? You cannot expect the dog to respect your wish for peace and quiet. But if you’re willing to make some effort, and if you understand why the dog is barking so incessantly, you may be able to resolve all this with a friendly visit, some time spent with the dog, and at most, a few alterations to your yard.