There are an estimated 78 million dogs in the United States. Unfortunately, a good percentage of these dogs bark constantly—which is very irritating and unhealthy to those affected by it.
The web site www.ToyBreeds.com, in “How to Stop Your Neighbor’s Dog From Barking,” makes the following recommendations:
- Start with an anonymous, gentle approach. Gentleness is recommended because “some novice puppy/ dog owners do not realize that Fido is barking his head off when he’s alone or outside all day.”
- Notify your landlord or homeowners association (HOA). Residents should review their lease or Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions (CC & Rs) for “provisions on noises and your right to ‘quiet’ or ‘peaceful enjoyment’ of your home.” Residents should “see if your lease discusses noise control, especially after 10:00 pm or before 7:00 am or other ‘nuisance’ or ‘disturbance’ provisions.” Noise victims should “send your landlord/ HOA a letter referencing the applicable language.”
- Ratchet up the approach to the neighbor. ToyBreeds.com recommends researching your community’s noise ordinance to see if it covers dog barking. If you, anonymously send the ordinance to the owner of the barking dog.
- Try technology and remain anonymous. The first approach is to use head phones or ear plugs.The second approach is to employ anti-bark devices, which “set off some type of high-frequency noise” when dogs begin to bark; supposedly, dogs hate this sound.The following devices are recommended:
- Start Keeping a Log. A log is a written record of the date, time, and length of dog barking. Be certain to note external factors for the dog barking (such as a letter carrier or garbage pick-up). You will need your log to present to legal authorities or in legal action
- File a Report With Law Enforcement. Law enforcement may be the police or animal control. Unfortunately, dog barking complaints are rarely a priority with the police; they may not come in a timely manner. If the police or animal control are not responsive, seek assistance from your mayor, city councilman, or county supervisor.If you live in Section 8 housing or a public housing project, “ask your case worker for advice and assistance.”
- Sue in Small Claims Court. All 50 states allow citizens to bring legal actions in small claims court without a lawyer. The damages you may seek are usually limited to $5,000.Present your log and video and copies of police or animal control reports. Also, it is best if you can present additional witnesses.You will need to describe how the barking harmed you (such as disturbing sleep) and demonstrate that you asked the dog owner to stop the noise (through copies of anonymous or signed letters).
- Get a Lawyer. A lawyer will be able to take two courses of action: (a) send a “lawyer” letter to the dog owner or the authorities who should have taken action to stop the dog barking; and (b) get a restraining order against the dog’s owners. The order could require the owner to keep the dog indoors. A restraining order could create significant legal fees, as the dog’s owner may counter-sue, creating a lengthy legal process.
- When All Else Fails: Move But Disclose the Barking. If you’re a renter, you’re off the hook. If you’re a homeowner, many states require that you disclose to potential buyers that there is a neighborhood nuisance.
ToyBreeds.com also recommends two steps to avoid.
- Don’t shoot or poison the dog. This may be very tempting—but it is not a good idea. Killing a dog and getting caught could severely damage your reputation, credit rating, and bank accounts.
- Don’t retaliate against the owner. Some people recommend that “you tape the dog and play it over and over again on a loud speaker. Or, they recommend calling the dog’s owner at 2:00 am when the dog is barking.” While these actions may have worked in the non-litigious past, they would likely get you in trouble today. You may be sued or reported as being a stalker.
The web site YourdogAdvisor.com recommends the following actions to get your dog to stop barking:
– Don’t bark with them. In other words, don’t yell at your dog to be quiet.
– Manage the environment: “What your dog can’t see can’t make him bark. Managing what your dog can see and hear outside can greatly reduce their tendency to bark at passersby. If your dog reacts to people walking by your font window, then closing the curtains is the simplest way to change their behavior. Using a bay ate to keep them away from street-facing windows can work, too. If your dog is also reactive to noises, like the neighbor’s dog barking or the squeal of the UPS truck’s breaks,then closing windows is another must. If that’s not enough, try playing music or using a noise machine to drown out outside noises.”
– Use counter-programming to reduce anxiety: “The basic idea of counter-conditioning to reduce barking is to present your dog with a high-value treat each time something appears out the window that they would normally bark at. As long as your dog isn’t too amped up, they should take the treats and not bark (much). Once the person is squirrel is out of sight, stop treating.”
Dog barking is one of many sources of unnecessary noise in the United States. Dog owners should adopt the golden rule and not subject their neighbors to irritating dog barking.