Dear Labby: What to do About Barking Dogs

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Dear Labby_old

Dear Labby, We have new neighbors who moved in about 6 weeks ago. They seem like a nice family, but the problem is they have two dogs that bark. A LOT. They are left home alone all day, everyday and spend most of their time in the yard barking. The family also seems to go out several nights a week and the dogs are left home alone to bark some more. I’m losing sleep. What do I do, do I call the police? Do I try and talk to them first? What do I say?
At My Wit’s End

Dear Wit’s End,
This is a very common problem that most people who live in urban or suburban areas encounter frequently. How you handle it can impact your relationship with that neighbor and they may be your neighbor for many years, so diplomacy is key. I realize it’s hard to be diplomatic when you just want the dog to shut up, but you have to try. Your first stop should be with the neighbor. You should always give them the benefit of the doubt, they may not even be aware that their dogs are barking so much and creating such a disturbance or they may not know what to do about it.
Approach them and just state the facts for the most recent occurrences, “Hey Bob, did you know that Buddy & Duke stand out in the corner of the yard and bark most of the day while you are at work?” Their response will indicate whether they are going to be good neighbors or not. If the behavior stops, then you know they took steps to remedy the situation. If not, then you have to escalate your response.
I would suggest a second conversation reiterating the problem, maybe with some specific examples and if you are friendly with this neighbor you might even make some suggestions. “Bob, you know I used to have a problem with Skippy barking all the time too and then I worked with this dog trainer, Jim Dunbar and he really helped us get it under control. The first thing we did was be sure and exercise Skippy each day so he wasn’t so bored. Do you want his number?” I know that’s not subtle, but ignoring your request is unacceptable.
Barking Dogs
You might try to record the barking and play it back for the owners. If the dogs also bark while the owners are home, you can use that as an opportunity to pay them a visit and discuss how that behavior also occurs when they are not home. You can try and enlist other neighbors as well. That may not work, but sometimes confronted with 3-4 neighbors with the same complaint, it becomes less about you and more about the neighborhood.
If making a polite request (or two, or three) doesn’t yield results, you probably have a dog owner who is in denial or just doesn’t care to keep the peace with their neighbors. Getting them to control their dog can be a challenge and a never ending struggle. Your last resort should be to notify the authorities. Most every community has noise and nuisance ordinances and while it’s not a necessarily a neighborly step, neither is ignoring your complaints or pleas for control.
Here’s an example of the Los Angeles County nuisance ordinance:
It shall be unlawful for any person to permit any dog or dogs under his or her charge, care, custody or control to emit any excessive noise after the Department has issued a written notice advising the owner or custodian of the alleged noise and the procedures as set forth below have been followed. For purposes of this section, the term “excessive noise” shall mean noise which is unreasonably annoying, disturbing, offensive, or which unreasonably interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property of one or more persons occupying property in the community or neighborhood, within reasonable proximity to the property where the dog or dogs are kept. The noise must be continuously audible for ten (10) minutes or intermittently audible for thirty (30) minutes within a three (3) hour period.
If you reach that level of frustration, contact your local authorities and see what the ordinances are in your neighborhood and then gather the appropriate information and documentation you need in order to file a complaint. Don’t think that will immediately solve the problem though – if you’ve gone this long without progress, it may be a long battle. Good Luck!
Additional Readings:
How to persuade your neighbors to quiet their chronically barking dogs
How to Stop a Neighbor’s Dog from Barking

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  1. As the owner of 4 vocal dogs I’m thankful that we live in a rural area that gives our dogs plenty of space to roam, explore, play and bark. Despite the fact that we live on a lot of land we have received a nasty gram from a neighbor who lives a few houses away adn she tried to rally other neighbors to report us – this was because our dogs barked a lot when the city was doing roadwork one week. We were sad that she was angry and annoyed but we were also worried about her taking her anger out on our dogs.

    The barking stopped when the road work stopped and we never heard from her again.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Dog Supplement Update | A Dog Supplement Regime that WorksMy Profile

    • I feel really fortunate that neither Jack or Maggie are barkers. As a matter of fact, Maggie has never barked, not once since we got her. I think it was something that really got suppressed in her previous life.
      mkob recently posted…Dear Labby: What to do About Barking DogsMy Profile

  2. Great response. Barking dogs are a touchy situation. Maybe suggest more toys or frozen stuffed kongs
    Sand spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Jail Break X 2 ~Monday MischiefMy Profile

  3. Whew!!! Being a Shetland Sheepdog (as you know, they are KNOWN for barking), thank GOD Dakota does NOT fall into this category: “The noise must be continuously audible for ten (10) minutes or intermittently audible for thirty (30) minutes within a three (3) hour period.”
    He thankfully has no separation issues, so he does not bark a lot when we aren’t home (we are friendly enough with our neighbors in our apt/condo building that we would be notified for sure)….he will bark when the mail carrier arrives (if we are home or not)….when the garbage trucks come, when other dogs visit our neighbors, when UPS or FedEx comes, when strangers are in the hallway, when he sees other dogs outside peeing and pooping in “his territory”…..and the biggie is when the cleaning crew that is hired by our complex comes and cleans the hallway (they come about once per week)….THAT one makes him crazy because they are developmentally disabled, they KNOW Dakota and KNOW that he barks and I think they egg him on by pushing the vacuum closer to our door.

    Thankfully that doesn’t last within the timelines you listed above.

    When Dakota does go on a barking jag it seems long to ME lol, but they are definitely not as long-lasting as what you stated above.

    Even if I had a home with a fenced yard, I would never, ever leave him outside while my husband and I were not home. That part to me just isn’t right.
    Caren Gittleman recently posted…National Pet Week!! Meet Porsha!My Profile

  4. We have had this problem. We have one neighbor on the left that has 4 dogs and runs a home daycare. Every day the dogs are put in a pen so the children she watches can play in the backyard. We will hear the dogs barking for 2 -4 hours. We have neighbors 2 houses behind us who raise coon hounds and beagles. Small sounds can set them off and their howling can be deafening!
    Ma and other neighbors have spoke with the owners of the dogs and it fell on deaf ears. The babysitter uses the excuse that the dogs are excited and the hound owner says they are being hounds. Animal control has been called on both people (ma didn’t do it, promise!) and the hounds now wear bark collars but it doesn’t do much good.
    I am sure we will suffer through another loud summer.
    Carma Poodale recently posted…Princess Carma and Her Yoda’sMy Profile

  5. Leroy seems to be the only barker in the neighborhood. We think he just likes to hear himself but he’s never left alone outside when we’re not home. He seems to have gotten better over the years, thankfully!
    Jen recently posted…To Trim Or Not To TrimMy Profile

  6. Bentley and Pierre will bark if our neighbors are in their yard. We let them outside to do their business and get their bark on for a minute, but then they must come back inside. Barking dogs left on their own often end up getting poisoned or let out of the gate. Neighbors can be wacko (at least ours can be) It is always best not to have problems with them. We also take the boys out on leashes if we know the neighbors are outside.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Defenders of Liberty #BlueAngelsMy Profile

  7. This is a common thing in my neighborhood and it makes me a little crazy. The last time we spoke to someone about their dogs, she told me dogs belong outside and that her dog was a husky and therefore protected by its fur like a wolf. Even though we live in TX and summers are unbearable. And the barking was just him protecting his home. Then when we donated at dog house to her, she showed up on my doorstep raging about how she doesn’t need my charity. Broke my heart. Authorities were called but said as long as shelter and food/water are provided, there is nothing they could do. So frustrating.
    Kim M recently posted…Monday Mischeif: Shawshank EditionMy Profile

  8. Barking dogs is such a difficult thing to address, I think you respond in the best way. Toys to help keep the dog mentally and physically engaged can help.

  9. Great Tips!! We surely agree diplomacy is key. Barking dogs are a relatively common problem and some owners just need to understand what to do about the problem.
    Barkocity recently posted…Health Benefits of Coconut Oil For DogsMy Profile

  10. I totally could have written this letter! Since I work from home it’s a drag to listen to my neighbor’s 2 dogs bark all day. At least they let the dogs in when they get home so it’s peaceful at night. I know they are trying to sell their house so I’m trying to bide my time!
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted…Monday Mischief: Our Dog’s a Drama QueenMy Profile

  11. We have a number of neighbors who are guilty of this. It’s usually better when it rains. Mr. N has separation issues so he can be barky but we keep him inside and usually in a room away from windows.

  12. Not an issue at our house, no sir. No barking in excess here. Howling, well maybe, but no barking.
    Emma recently posted…Flowers And MoreMy Profile

  13. We’ve got a neighbor who keeps their dogs penned in the yard. The dogs do not like rain, but the owners haven’t figured that out yet #dontknowwhy It’s annoying, but I really feel sorry for the dogs.
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…PETS IN WEDDINGSMy Profile

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