DEALING WITH A NEIGHBOR'S BARKING DOG
There's barking and then there's BARKING! Living next door to a dog that barks excessively when left alone is enough to make even the most fervent dog lover want to pull out their hair. Here are some tips to address the problem without damaging your relationship with your neighbors.
WRITE A LETTER
The first step is to notify the owner of the issue. Chances are, they don't know! Since distress barking occurs when the owner is gone, there's a really good chance they have no idea their dog is being a nuisance!
Write a letter that includes the following:
- Current date
- Owner's address
- Description of the problem
- Specific times/situations that the barking occurs
- Referral to local trainer
Keep your tone polite and sympathetic. You are a fellow dog-lover who wants to help. You can remain anonymous, if you wish. But if you think your neighbors are reasonable people and relatively responsible dog owners, you might consider including an email or other contact information with an offer to let them know how their behavior modification efforts are working.
I've created a letter you can complete and use, if you're not sure what to say:
LETTER TO OWNER OF BARKING DOG
Even if they are aware that their dog has a problem, they may not know where to start or they might not have the money to hire a trainer. You can attach an article about separation anxiety/distress in dogs, so they have something they can do right away.
I once had a client who presented the letter with a new Kong and cans of high-quality dog food to get her neighbors started. That $20 gift bought her the return of many restful hours!
Remember, be polite and respectful. You may have been living with the problem for weeks or months, but it could be the first time the owner has heard about the problem!
CONTACT ANIMAL CONTROL
Unfortunately, not all dog owners are simply ignorant to their dog's problem. After a reasonable amount of time has passed and you haven't noticed any change in the barking, it may be time to contact your local animal control agencies. Many agencies now give you the ability to report problems online. Be sure to include the specifics referenced above. The more detailed your documentation, the better! It can be helpful to keep a log of the dates/times the barking takes place.
Sometimes, excessive barking is an indication of a dog in distress, so filing a report with Animal Control may save a dog that is suffering from neglect.
IF YOUR DOG IS THE TOWN CRIER
When you are the owner of a dog with SD/SA, it can be incredibly stressful as you worry about the well-being of both your dog and your neighbors! If some of the tips outlined in the resources above aren't making a difference, you may need to seek professional help.
We offer a Behavior Helpline for dog owners throughout the US and can get you started on a customized behavior plan, as well as offer advice on seeking additional help in your area.
Giving your neighbor tips on addressing barking is going to go much further in addressing the problem than an angry complaint! Offering sympathy and advice can make your life much easier!