How to Stop Your Neighbor's Dog from Barking

   

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1. Start with an anonymous, gentle approach.

Gentle because some novice puppy/dog owners do not realize Fido is barking his head off when he's left alone or outside all day.

Never leave a threatening or belligerent note because you never know who might see you dropping it off! If you don't want to leave it, send it through the mail.

Try something like -

August 3, 2009

Dear Neighbor,

You may not realize that your puppy/dog is barking all day while you're gone. {or barking all night while he's outside).

He may be bored, scared and lonely. Here's an article with tips on how you can help him. All of us in the neighborhood would appreciate your attention to this.

Another Dog Lover

The article may be from my website - http://www.toybreeds.com/home_alone.htm or other.
Keep a copy of your note and any attachment.

Anonymous because there are plenty of nuts out there and many of them own dogs. They enjoy annoying their neighbors and in fact, consider any act of decency on their part to be a loss of position. Don't provoke them unless and until you must.

Give the gentle note at least a 10-days to see if there's any improvement.

2. Notify your landlord or homeowners association (HOA).

If you rent or live in an HOA community, call them and explain the problem.

If they appear uninterested or unwilling to do anything, you may need to follow up with a note.

If you have a lease or community Codes, Covenants, and Restrictions (CC&R's), review them for provisions on noises and your right to "quiet" or "peaceful enjoyment" of your home.

Warning - some CCRs require "multiple household" complaints to enforce noise rules. Even if your neighbors hate the barking as much as you do, you'll probably find they're too apathetic or frightened to work with you. In that case, keep reading.

See if your lease discusses noise control especially after 10 p.m. or before 7 a.m. or other "nuisance" or "disturbance" provisions.
If your lease has it, it's probable the dog owner's has as well.

Send your landlord/HOA a letter referencing the applicable language. Again, do not threaten or attack (they'll be time for that if these early steps don't work).

State that the barking is keeping your awake/unable to work at home/etc and ask that they enforce the rules of the HOA or lease.

Do NOT give ultimatums. If the other side doesn't respond/act, you might have to eat your words and they'll never again take you seriously.

State the facts, reference the appropriate lease/CCR provisions and ask them to take action.

3. Ratchet up the approach to the neighbor.

If you're not renting, there's no HOA and the gentle anonymous note didn't work, you need a stronger letter. It can still be anonymous.

Get a copy of your local/state ordinance or law that would cover loud noises. Some cities have specific ordinances on dog barking.

With the Internet, this is likely to be easy. Visit your city or county's official website and do a search. If you can't find it, call the city attorney's office or county's District/Prosecuting/State's attorney office and ask them. Sorry about all the names but counties use different terminology.

Get a copy of the ordinance/law and mail it to your neighbor with a stronger note.

Do not threaten or attack but do state that if the situation does not improve, you'll be forced to notify the authorities.

Ask them to help their dog by keeping him inside at night or leaving him toys to keep him busy during the day (whatever is appropriate in your case).

Again, wait at least 10 days to see if that helps.

Be sure to date the note and keep a copy.

The three steps above can be taken without exposing yourself to your neighbor. We'll give one more step can be done anonymously, but beyond that you will have to face your neighbor.

4. Try technology and remain anonymous.

Technology 1
If you don't want to go to the authorities or you're afraid of your neighbor, make use of technology.

Mount a Viatek BC16G Super Bark Stop Gift Box (about $50) outside so it is aimed at the dog or the area where the dog is usually barking.

It is intended to work on outside dogs and its affectivity is diminished if its line of site is blocked by landscaping and structures.

The manufacturer states it works up to 50-feet of the dog. The dog's barking will set off the device which sends an ultrasonic blast which the dog but not humans can hear.

It may take a few days for the dog to associate the high frequency sound with his barking and realize that you can't have one without the other.

You'll need to mount it carefully as it is not water proof so make sure it's protected from the elements. It runs on batteries.

When the Viatek BC16G Super Bark Stop Gift Box works - and some breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers do not seem affected and it won't work on hearing impaired dogs - it's fantastic because your neighbor won't hear it, and probably can't see it or recognize what it is.

If you live in an apartment with paper thin walls, it's also worth trying. Mount it against the wall. If you can hear the dog, it's likely the dog will be able to hear the ultrasonic blast.

There also is a hand-held Dog Dazer II - Dog repeller and training device (about $30) that I recommend. If the dog only bothers you when you're outside, you press the Dazer - about one second on and four off - until the dog quiets down. Again, it will take him a couple times for him to realize the cause and effect.

The Dog Dazer II - Dog repeller and training device is great for joggers and owners of small dogs who want to take them for outside walks. Dogs hear it but humans don't.

There are other products on the market other but those are the two I like. If neither one works for you (and these are the best of the lot), visit www.amazon.com for other suggestions.

Technology II

Try head phones and ear plugs so you don't hear the dog. Mack's Pillow Soft Silicone Earplugs, Value Pack, 6 pr can be molded in your ear and are great for sleeping. If you can hear the dog through the ear plugs, you really do have a major, major problem. Keep reading.

5. If technology or letters don't work, start keeping a log.

This is a written record of when and for how long the dog is barking. You can create a computer log, use an old calendar or buy a fancy notebook log.

Just note the date and time the barking started and when it stopped. If there were any outside causes for the barking (such as garbage men or letter carrier show up), be sure to note that.

You will need this record for the authorities or legal action you may take. Have your log for at least a week before you contact the authorities.

If you already have the equipment, you can use a video or audio recorder or both. Just make certain you can attach days and times to the recorded instances.

6. File a report with law enforcement.

This may be the police or animal control, depending on where you live.

The police are often effective when they come. Note, the "when they come." Dog barking complaints rarely are a priority with them, and they may not arrive in a timely manner. In some areas, they only come if there's nothing else going on; e.g., murder, rape, robbery, etc.

Animal control may or may not be effective. It depends on your area. With your log showing that this is a chronic problem, you have a better chance of getting their attention and help.

Provide animal control or the police with copies of your written letters to the neighbor and your log.

In many areas, you will be required to sign a complaint so your neighbor then will know it's you who has been complaining. There's no way around this.

If police or animal control aren't responsive, ask for assistance from your mayor, city councilman or county commissioner. Remember, everyone has a supervisor.

Using the authorities is an irrevocable course so make certain that you are ready for the fall-out and that the authorities will do something worthwhile such as charge the dog owner with a misdemeanor or take custody of the dog(s).

One other note, if you live in a community where there is some state or local agency that has oversight, be sure to file a complaint with that agency.

For instance, if your HOA board hasn't acted and your state has a board that oversees them, send the agency a complaint with a copy of your initial letter to the HOA and send the HOA a copy of your complaint to the agency.

If you're in Section 8(a) or other assistance housing, ask your case worker for advice and assistance.

P.S. Never exaggerate your problem. Rely on your log to speak for you. It is human-nature to see your problem as monumental but lying or misrepresenting your case to the police may be a criminal offense (remember Martha Stewart?).

7. Sue in Small Claims Court

All states today allow people to bring actions in Small Claims Court without a lawyer. The amount of money you can ask for is limited, usually between $2,000 and $5,000.

You will need your written or electronic log, copies of police or animal control reports (both should provide you copies often for a nominal fee) and ideally, witnesses other than yourself.

You will have to describe how the barking prevented you from doing normal activities (such as sleeping), give evidence of the barking (through your logs, etc) and show that you asked the person to stop the noise (copies of your anonymous or signed letters).

Once you have a judgment, if the neighbor doesn't pay, you can attach their bank account or get a lien on their home. If the barking continues, you can sue them again but you'll probably want to move on to the next step.

Buy or borrow the Nolo Press book, Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court so you know what to expect.

8. Get a lawyer.

There are two things a lawyer can do. One is to send a "lawyer" letter to the dog owner or the authorities, public or private, who should have been taking action to stop the dog barking.

Many people- especially landlords and HOAs - will finally act when they get a formal lawyer letter and realize they could be sued.

A lawyer letter is a fairly economical way to go and may force some action.

The other thing a lawyer may do is get a restraining order against the dog's owner. The order may require the owner to keep the dog indoors or some other action that stops the noise. These can't be obtained through Small Claims Court so you should get a lawyer.

A restraining order may be expensive; the dog's owner may counter-sue and it may be a prolonged financial and emotional process through the courts.

Its often effective, however, because the dog's owner could be arrested if he violates the order.

An alternative to the restraining order is mediation or arbitration and your lawyer could offer this to the dog's owner. It's not that this isn't workable, it's that when it's reached this point, the dog owner is apt to be a 100% nut and may be too emotionally deranged or violent to cooperate in a mediation.

9. When all else fails, move but disclose the barking.

Be aware that in many states you must disclose to potential buyers that there is a nuisance in the neighborhood; i.e., the barking dog(s).

California actually had such a court case and the homeowner who was trying to sell lost the case because he didn't tell the real estate agent or buyer about the barking dogs.

2 Steps to Avoid

1. Don't shoot the dog.

I'm serious. There was such a case. Do not get to the point that you poison or harm the dog or the owner or the owner's home.

Yes, you know better but lack of sleep can distort your thinking. Your reputation, credit rating and bank accounts may be seriously damaged if you react violently - no matter how provoked.

2. Don't confront the owner.

Sometimes people recommend that you tape the dog and play it over and over on a loud speaker. Or, they recommend calling the dog's owner at 2 a.m. when the dog is barking. This can prove embarrassing if your neighbor has caller id.

These things probably worked in the non-litigious past, but they are apt to get you into trouble today. You can be sued or you can be reported as a stalker for too often or too vigorously contacting the dog's owner.

Some nutty dog owners will try to provoke you so you look like the trouble maker to authorities. Do not play into their hands.

Keep your contact with the dog owner to a minimum. You should rely on written contact and the authorities and avoid situations where it is just you and the dog's owner.

Unfortunately, there are many violent people in the world and you don't want to get in their line of fire.

Good luck.

 

 

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