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Monkey Business: How to handle a neighbor’s barking dog

Tug GettlingMonkey Business

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There are not many things in the world that are more irritating than a neighbor’s dog that barks relentlessly through the night. When that happens something has to be done, however, making enemies of your neighbors is certainly not the best outcome. If you find yourself in this uncomfortable and exasperating situation there are a few things you can do to alleviate your frustration.

First – walk over to your neighbor’s house and speak with them directly. Although it may be difficult, be kind. Don’t assume that they know that their dog is dog is barking or that their dog’s barking is disturbing anyone. They may be unaware that their dog is barking all day long while they are at work, or maybe they are heavy sleepers or sleep in a part of their house where they cannot hear their dog barking at night.

Give them a chance to rectify the problem before taking any further action. Discuss your concerns and let them know why the barking is bothering you (keeping you from sleeping at night, waking up your young kids at nap time, interrupts your concentration). You might also offer some polite suggestions, things such as moving their dog to another part of the yard, bringing their dog inside at night, crate training their dog, putting their dog in the garage while they are at work, etc. Often a well thought out and kind approach and discussion with your neighbor is all that is needed and changes are made that make everyone happy.

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Sometimes it may be easier and more effective to leave your neighbor a nice note. The key word is nice. This may allow some level of anonymity on your part depending on the circumstances and additionally may allow the neighbor to salvage some dignity and not be as embarrassed as a face to face discussion may produce. Again, you will want to be specific and direct but also understanding. Offer suggestions if you can or even help if you feel comfortable doing so. An additional advantage is that written communication is also evidence that you have taken steps to rectify the situation if the need for outside intervention becomes necessary.

Second – if your conversation with the neighbor fails to solve the problem you night try a few strategies of your own to keep the dog from barking. You might try a high frequency approach. There are many products on the market these days that emit a high pitched, ultra-sonic sound that dogs can hear but humans cannot; they include the Petsafe Outdoor Bark Control, Guardian Bark Control, Dog Silencer Pro, Bark Stop Pro and the Viatek Super Bark Stop and range in price from about $25-$100.

The idea is to install one of these devices on your property but as close to the neighbor’s barking dog as possible. Then every time the dog barks the device discharges the high-pitched sound, which discourages the dog from barking. This can help train their dog to quit barking without your neighbor ever knowing that you are using it. You can also use it on your own dog, or any dog within the effective range which generally ranges from 50 to 300 feet. Some of them even come with a remote control. This allows you to press it anytime that the neighbor’s dog is barking ceaselessly but without having to have it on all of the time.

It also allows you to train your dog against barking or any other nuisance behavior. If you want to keep your dog off of the furniture then a simple click of the button when Buster jumps on the couch could dissuade him. A simpler and less expensive high frequency approach is the dog whistle. They are a manual version of the ultra-sonic devices and cost less than $10. When the dog barks you blow the whistle and the dog hears it even though you cannot hear a thing. Eventually the dog will associate his own barking with the sound of the whistle and like Pavlov’s dogs will learn their lesson.

Another method you can employ is to simply try to block your neighbor’s dog’s view of whatever may be stimulating it to bark. Some dogs bark whenever they see movement and if that movement is coming from your yard, you can erect a fence, increase the height of an existing fence or plant some privacy bushes or trees. If your pets are what is triggering the barking, you may consider moving them to another part of the yard where they are not seen by the neighbor’s dog. Take the dog’s point of view and see if you can identify and eliminate any triggers to the darn dog’s barking.

Third – if everything else has failed it may finally be time to place a call to the local animal control or code enforcement agency. When filing your complaint don’t get emotional. Simply explain the situation and the steps you have taken to rectify it. If you have written a note or letter make sure to keep a copy of it as evidence. You may want to video or audio record the dog’s barking and be sure to include the time and date of the barking; moreover you can keep a written log of the dog’s barking including the date, time and duration of each event. If other neighbors have also been disturbed by the barking encourage them to file a complaint as well. The more complaints that animal control receives, the more serious the matter becomes and the quicker action will be taken.

A barking mad pooch who continues to bark can fray the nerves of even the best of us. Keeping a cool head, exercising extreme patience, and being kind and thoughtful can help ease the stress and irritation on both sides. Remember that your neighbors may be your neighbors for many years; also keep in mind that even if your neighbors are great people their dog may bark his darn fool head off.

Tug Gettling, a BYU graduate, is the Director of North Utah Valley Animal Services, the Training Officer for the Utah Animal Control Officers Association, a Safe Kids Utah County member, and a protective tactics instructor. Email: togettling@orem.org

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