Dogs. They're cute, cuddly and a ton of fun - that is, as long as they're not barking incessantly, day after day, night after night.
And what's the only thing that's worse than a dog that barks constantly? Having a neighbor who's dog barks constantly.
If you're one of those unfortunate folks who has an out-of-control canine in your condo, apartment building or block, don't book the movers - there's lots ways to deal with that barking dog that don't involve changing your zip code.
To help bring harmony back to your home, we've put together a quick list of the do's and don'ts when it comes to dealing with your neighbor's disruptive doggy:
Don't Do Anything Abusive, Or Illegal
First off, here's what not to do - never, ever, harm the offending dog - ever. Seriously, don't.
If you've been besieged by the mind-numbing, climb-the-walls craziness of a non-stop neighborhood noisemaker for awhile now, chances are good you've had a few unsavory thoughts about what you'd like to do to Fido.
While we understand your frustration, as dog-lovers, we're here to tell you that doing anything to harm a dog is wrong. Very, very, wrong. In fact, it's illegal1, and even if the authorities don't get you, Ricky Gervais2 will surely unleash his wide-reaching social media wrath on you.
And besides, it's not the dog's fault - the responsibility for an overly-vocal dog lies squarely on the shoulders of the dog's owner.
Why Dogs Bark 101
Before you go barging off to confront your neighborhood pet parent, it's important to understand a bit about why exactly dogs bark 3, because if you know what the problem is, you'll be better equipped to help find a solution.
According to the Humane Society of the United States 4, dogs bark to communicate, just like people speak, birds chirp and babies squeal and cry. When a dog barks excessively, chances are good that something is bothering the pooch - here's a list of possibilities:
He's Lonely - Domesticated dogs are social animals, and when their people aren't around, dogs can become sad, and even distraught, driving the dog to bark constantly in search of attention5.
He's Anxious - Just like with people, some canines tend to be anxious - a problem that's made worse by absent pet parents, strange noises, unusual smells or even the full moon6. And remember that dogs don't know when their family will be home - this is especially true in households that have erratic schedules that make it tough for four-legged family members to know what's going on, and when.
He's Scared - Fido could be escalated over a noise, smell or something he sees - anything from a squeaky bathroom fan to seeing a strange car parked on the street can trigger fear-based barking in a dog.
He's Bored - Just like people, dogs get bored7, leading to all sorts of unsavory behavior like chewing on shoes, digging endless backyard holes, and non-stop barking.
He's Sick, Hungry or Thirsty - Dogs have only a few ways to let folks know they're not feeling up to snuff - they can stop eating, they can eat too much, defecate in all the wrong places, and bark - a lot. A barking dog might be trying to let their owner know that they need food, water or medical attention.
Something's Wrong - If a dog starts barking incessantly out of the blue, there's a good chance that something is very, very wrong. Stories of barking dogs alerting rescuers to children trapped in wells8, house fires9, and even medical emergencies10 are fairly common, so it's important to investigate when a normally-docile dog goes into non-stop, noise-making mode.
So, What's The Solution?
In a nutshell, you, the affected neighbor, have three basic options when it comes to dealing with a disruptive dog.
a) Speak directly with the dog's owner
b) Call your local authorities
c) Commence legal action
Unless you are genuinely concerned for the safety of yourself, your family and/or the offending dog itself, we suggest taking a friendly, helpful stance vs. a combative, call-the-cops type of approach. After all, chances are good the either that the pet owner is unaware of how much their dog is barking, or they're also disturbed by the excessive barking, and would welcome some compassionate assistance.
Be Part of the Solution
Before you approach the pet parent, it can be a good idea to assess just how much barking the dog does, and when. Keep notes regarding the time, frequency and intensity of the barking - that information can be help the dog's owner in narrow down the cause of their dog's excessive vocalizations.
If you don't already have a relationship with your neighbor, start with a simple in-person introduction or a friendly note left under their front door. Let them know that you've noticed their dog barks a lot, and that you understand that canines bark to communicate, so you're thinking that perhaps their four-legged family member has something to say?
Remember, using an empathetic approach increases the chances that your neighbor will view you as a helpful ally, not an adversary. Focus on the fact that you're a pet lover too, and you'd like to help.
Research & Suggest Solutions
There's a number of high-tech, low-cost pet monitoring products and apps 11 available that can help both you and the dog's owner pinpoint exactly when, and how frequently, Fido sounds off. Sometimes it takes some concrete evidence to convince canine owners that their pups really are rather obnixious!
Contact Your Local By-Law Officer
In most municipalities, noise abatement by-laws cover disturbances caused by people and pets. For example. in Los Angeles, any dog that barks for more than 30 minutes in a 3-hour period, or for 10 consecutive minutes 12, is considered to be producing "excessive noise".
Unfortunately, once you get the authorities involved, things can quickly deteriorate for both the humans and the dogs. Neighborhood relations become strained, and many local governments place so-called nuisance animals in local, over-crowded shelters, where disruptive dogs may wind up euthanized.
Sue For Damages
While it's always a last resort, in some extreme cases you might need to enlist the help of a lawyer. One Seattle dog owner could loose their house over their disruptive pet, after their fed-up neighbor successfully sued for over $500,000 in damages 13 for emotional distress resulting from the "howling14, raucously, wildly bellowing, howling and explosively barking15 from their family pet.
The Final Verdict?
So, while there's lots of different options when it comes to dealing with your neighbor's barking dog, here at Hot Dog Collars, we believe that the best approach is one that offers understanding and support to both the pet and their owner. After all, it's easier to make new friends than find a new neighborhood!