Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dealing with a Neighbor’s Noisy Dog

By Langley Cornwell

Have you ever lived in a neighborhood where a nearby dog barks incessantly? Where relaxing chores like watering your garden or refilling your hummingbird feeder is interrupted by aggressive snarling, growling and barking? Where the neighbor’s dog rushes the fence when you walk by and you’re sure he would attack if there wasn’t a barrier? If you have, you know what a nuisance it is. But what would you do about it?

I posed the question to my friends and fellow animal lovers. The answers were thoughtful, helpful and sometimes silly but offer a variety of ways to deal with the problem. Here are some of the responses:

Diane at CANIDAE said: “I have problems with this all the time. My solution usually involves squirting water over the fence when the dog is barking. If I’m lucky I actually get the dog wet. Usually this stops the barking. Of course I try to make sure the owner isn’t home at the time I do this. LOL! After a while, the dog gets conditioned to stop barking when he hears me open the patio slider and only needs a “reminder” once in a while. Of course, this isn’t the best way to deal with the barking and it doesn’t work with small dogs because they are a smaller target.”

Many people report success with distractions including squirting water (like Diane), sounding an air horn or rattling a tin can full of pennies when the dog barks.

Another friend of mine, Charles, lives beside a barking dog. He says: “Our next door neighbor’s dogs bark a lot, but they are not aggressive. Because the neighbors are very nice people, we just tolerate it.”

Caren offers this response: “Depends on what kind of fence it is. If it is a chain link fence, I'd build my own privacy fence to run alongside it – so I wouldn't have to see the dog every day.”

My friend Juniper has memories of a childhood incident that influences how she would react today. “I'd talk to the neighbors about it in a personal and friendly manner. If it continued long after that and was significantly disrupting my life (waking up my family, threatening my daughter, etc.) I'd call animal control as a last resort.”

She goes on to explain, “When I was a kid, there was a free-roaming dog in my neighborhood that attacked two children and killed three other neighborhood dogs before someone finally demanded that the proper steps be taken. That wouldn’t be my first option, but I would call Animal Control if the dog was getting out of its fence, off its property, or appeared to pose an actual threat to anyone.”

Toni is in the process of working out a creative solution. “Talk to the neighbor! That’s what I did with my dog problems. My dogs and their dog had an ongoing fence battle and theirs jumped the fence between our yards and attacked my dogs on three different occasions. We talked, we made a plan, and we are now walking all the dogs together so they feel like one pack. If that doesn't solve the problem, we plan to take down part of my fence and add a gate, making it one yard instead of two.”

Rewarding desired behavior also seems to work. Jill says “We had a problem with the dogs that live next door. I solved the issue by calling the dogs over to the fence when they were not barking and giving them a few dog treats, like CANIDAE Snap-Biscuits. I’m careful to only give them the treat when they’re not barking. Now when they do bark, I open the door or window and say ‘No’ and they stop.”

A thoughtful response from Anna suggests this: “Ask the owner if you can walk the dog or spend time with him, because the dog may be barking out of boredom or loneliness. You could also ask the owner if you can provide the dog with toys to keep him busy and, hopefully, quiet.”

Every dog and every situation is different. The trick is figuring out what works with the dog and the neighbor. Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do?

Photo by Steve Baker

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell


  1. Every. Single. Day.

    My former townhouse neighbour (adjoining unit) had two large dogs. She worked a couple of jobs and seldom was home. The dogs were left in the house and/or the 16ft x 16ft back space and were quickly bored. Both were aggressive, one would bark starting at 7:15AM when she left, and not stop until she got home after work. Some days it was almost incessant. Talking with her didn't help, but eventually she moved. I hope those poor dogs have a decent yard now--and no nearby neighbours.

    Now, the neighbour on the other side of the walkway (I'm an end unit) has a large dog with behavioural problems. Any movement along the walkway sends the dog into an aggressive frenzy, no exaggeration. She can't walk him near anyone, he goes crazy. I feel badly on the one hand for the dog, because it seems to be another case of a large animal needing to be run, needing proper attention, training, playtime, etc. and not getting it. But on the other hand, that dog is a menace to the rest of us.

    And in between...Well, a lot of renters and owners in our complex have yappy, ill-mannered, untrained, small dogs. The fault of the humans. So there are frequent daily disruptions barking.

    Oh, BTW? That aggressive dog that goes into a frenzy? I sprayed it with vinegar and water one day not long ago and it didn't make one whit of difference, in no way stopped him even for a second. Seriously. Thank goodness the owner has a fence, and that I do too!

  2. Unfortunately our dogs bark at noise, people walking by. We've tried everything, but they bark out of fear, not to attack. It's just as embarrassing for us as it is annoying to others.

  3. It is hard to know what to do. It all takes time and people don't want to spend the time dealing with it. Sounds like some people have figured out ways to deal with it. My dog does bark at the neighbors but the neighbors are gone now so it isn't a problem anymore. Whenever I heard her barking, I would just bring her in. Owners just need to be more careful.

  4. I am so old school. Dogs bark for attention or protection. So if the dog is barking because he wants attention give it to him. If he is barking to "protect" his territory you assess the threat then instruct him on how to behave after you have done so. If there is no threat he is made to stop barking after the proper praise. If there is a threat then he can keep barking and you need to deal with the threat. A dog needs to be taught that people walking by or working in their own yard are not threats.

    But, as I said, I am old school, before the days of crating your dog for 9 to 10 hours a day while you are at work. And before the days when having a little purse dog was all the rage. Dogs were for company, companionship, and protection they were not status symbols and accessories. Dogs got attention and training.

    We’ve always had very intelligent dogs that responded well to training and were well behaved, so I actually don’t know what it is like to have an ill-mannered dog that does not respond to training, but I have been amazed when I have watched those dog training shows on TV. I love that it is never really the dog that needs the training, but the owners.

    We’ve talked to the neighbors we can identify, but there are some dogs that bark all day long and I can’t pinpoint which house they are coming from.

  5. Our neighbors had a Black Lab. He was in a small run. They never took him out, just gave him food and water. The poor think barked incessantly, night and day. They are home all the time but just didn't care. We approached them and they told us 'drink some whiskey and it won't bother you'. The dog was friendly and my dogs interacted with him through the fence. We called animal control. The neighbors ignored the notice from animal control. Finally the sheriff showed up. The next day the neighbor called and asked if I wanted the dog. I already have 2 but we took him. He has been here 11 days now. We are working through some issues (chewed up all the dog beds, for one) but he hardly ever barks and he is a great dog. I am glad we got him out of there

  6. Eva is quite vocal too. We have tried many ways, methods, tricks and treats, and etc but none of them work. She just goes crazy when there is any passing by cars and bikes.

    Luckily our neighbours are very understanding and they think Eva is doing her job protecting the neighbourhood. : )

  7. I walk my two small children past a neighbor's house to get to school. The large dog rushes the fence, and barks very aggressively at me and my children. I have learned that if I yell "knock it off!" and make eye contact with the dog, he will back down. This apparantly offended the neighbor, who stood on his porch and lectured me on how dogs behave. I pointed out that I am on public property, and I deserve to walk down the street without being threatened. "Dogs will bark." he said. I replied "I'm a Mom, and Moms will bark back." I understand the dog is probably just bored, but I really felt that if there was no barrier, the dog would have attacked us. The owner seemed to have no understanding of how aggravating and frightening his animal's behavior was. I am considering purchasing a dog whistle or silencer to carry with me.


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