5 Things to Do When a Neighbor Complains About Your Dog

Are neighbors complaining about your dog barking? Do NOT get defensive! The following are ways you can peacefully diffuse this potentially hostile situation.

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The natural thing to do when someone complains about your dog is to get defensive. “My dog? Causing a problem? How dare you?!”

Don’t go there. Defensiveness exacerbates hostilities, escalates tension, and encourages your neighbor to make a mountain out of what you perceive to be a molehill. Remember, it’s all about perception, and your neighbor’s perception is his reality. Instead of being defensive, try these things:

1. Listen intently to your neighbor’s complaint.

Unless one of you plans to move, defusing the situation beats all-out war. Set defensiveness aside, and listen to what your neighbor says. Assume there’s some nugget of truth to his complaint. You need to find it, so you can figure out what to do with it. He says your dog barks all the time, underneath his bedroom window, and wakes him up. That may be an exaggeration, but chances are your dog is barking some of the time, especially if you leave her out in the yard, or if she has free backyard access through a doggie-door.

2. Empathize and apologize for your dog.

Without admitting guilt, empathize with your complainer. “It must be frustrating to have to listen to barking dogs when you’re trying to sleep.” Be sincere. Tell him you’re sorry he’s being disturbed by barking. Reassure him that you don’t want your dog to be a nuisance, and you want to help find a solution to his concerns. Ask him to bear with you while you work on the problem. Bake him chocolate chip cookies.

3. Investigate your dog’s nuisance behavior.

Ask questions that won’t make your neighbor defensive. “Is there a time when it’s most annoying?” “Are there other dogs that are barking too?” “Other than giving up my dog, what would make you happy?” Set up a video camera or voice-activated tape recorder to document your dog’s activities when you aren’t home. Alternatively, take a day off and watch your own house from a distance, to see what goes on that might make your dog bark. Check the neighborhood to see if there are other dogs whose barking might be blamed on your dog. Ask other neighbors if they hear your dog, and if so, when and how much.

4. Respect all community dog laws.

Make sure your dog is currently licensed, and obey all local animal control laws. Maybe your neighbor is complaining because your dog runs loose and he feels threatened (even though you know your dog is a pussycat), or because you don’t clean up when you take her for walks. Those are legitimate grounds for complaint (as is excessive nuisance barking) even if your dog is a pussycat. You don’t want animal control to find you in violation of anything. Obey leash laws and scoop laws, and respect your neighbor’s discomfort with your dog – don’t let her off-leash even if you’re just walking out to your car. If she runs over to happily greet him, you’ll fuel the fires.

5. Take action to modify your dog’s behavior, and your own behavior.

Make changes to accommodate your neighbor and protect your dog. If his complaint is early-morning noise and she’s barking when you let her out at 6:00 am while you shower, alter your routine. Get up earlier and go out with her. Let her eliminate, then play with her. Keep her quietly occupied rather than leaving her to find her own entertainment. If it’s random throughout-the-day backyard barking while you’re away, bring her in and close the dog door. She doesn’t have to be outside all day. If things get ugly, leaving her out unattended exposes her to great risk from an irate neighbor. If necessary, pay someone to let her out for a noon potty break. If the complaint is about barking even when you are home, behavior modification is in order. (See “Modifying Your Dog’s Barking Behavior“.) If it’s something other than barking, determine how you can modify the situation to mitigate the problem. Some examples:

-Your dog charges the fence. Your neighbor fears for his children’s safety. Make the fence solid, or put up an inner fence so there’s an “airlock” between dog and kids. See, “Solve Fence Aggression with a Better Designed Dog Fence,” for more info on fencing.

-Your dog came over and attacked his dog. You think your dog was just playing, but whatever. Vow that your dog is never off her leash in your neighborhood. Even just walking to your car.

Keep your neighbor informed of your efforts to address his concerns. Document your actions in a journal in case you do have to face animal control. Ask your neighbor to let you know if he sees improvement – and document that. Save receipts for anything you buy to modify your dog’s environment. If you see your neighbor deliberately antagonizing your dog, document that with a video camera. Keep your dog safe. Be considerate. Keep baking chocolate chip cookies.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Help. My neighbor has started complaining about my 6 month old Cowboy Corgi.I have a 6 foot stockade fence. This woman has a pool…4 kids… and 3 pitbulls. Its usually full on party music too. My pup barks then runs away. My girl is learning. She doesnt quite understand the barking and the noise. She gets barked at she barks back. What can i do to make this woman understand…..kids scream dogs bark thats life. We are not outside very long. She is becoming very hateful.

  2. Neighbors are generally assholes…everything they do is OK and everything you do is not. So I say fuck them and ignore it. Dont apologize for your dog. Do what you can but forget about baking cookies, and let them reflect on their own assholeness towards you and the ones you love, including your pup.

    • You are proof of that! People like you are the reason that others act like they do. You think all neighbors are assholes or at least potential assholes so anything goes right? Hopefully someone moves in nextdoor to you and has 4 large outdoor dogs and a small yappy one that they don’t care anything about and leave them outside all day and most of the night and never interact with them. You willsee what a true asshole is.

      • My point was – jerk – that no matter what you do and how considerate you are, most all neighbors will find something to complain about, so an apology tour of the neighborhood is not required, especially in this lady’s situation. What she said in her comment is not reason enough for complaint from her obvious ass-holey neighbor with the loud kids. She should not apologize to her, why should she?
        Before you comment, read the entire thread.

        • Did you hear what you just said? So I happen to be that neighbor that is actually a very kool guy.. I have three kids that are now grown and all but my youngest are on own now.. we’ve lived in this home for 20 years and have never had issues with barking dogs that don’t stop! About four months ago a new person moved into the house next to us and have a dog that they have let out in backyard since day one.. the dog will bark continuously until they let it in. Sometimes for more than ann hour.. x four or five times they let it out, and that’s just about the whole day.. This has eliminated the enjoyment of outdoor activities for my family. We own two dogs of our own that go outside on a regular basis and do not bark. This is because I taught them not to.. my first move was to call the police and make a noise complaint. Only because I know all to well that me going over and talking to them about it is the wrong choice because years back I had done so. Only to be met with an asshole like yourself that got all defensive and started cussing me out.. So anyways I’ve called the police a dozen times with no effect. My local animal control does not deal with noise complaints, they are the ones who told me call the police. I don’t hate dogs.. I’ve had dogs my whole life. But I’m definitely not going to lay down and let this ignorant person keep me indoors. Anyone who thinks approaching an owner of an annoying dog next door… Don’t!! My next step will be to find the landlord of the “TEENAGERS” that are renting it . If that don’t work I will be having a small claims court case in the near future.. I should be allowed to enjoy my property without being annoyed by an animal that does nothing but bark…

          • How did you teach your dogs not to bark? Seriously. I have a neighbor who has singled out my dog from among many in the neighborhood as the sole cause of her unhappiness. We have a fenced yard and all the other neighbors just turn their dogs loose and they come up to our fence and bark at our German Shepherd and she barks back. I’ve consulted with trainers who had no solutions and I refuse to strap a shock collar on her or have her voice box cut out like some people do. I would love to know how you did it.

        • I am in similar situation, my German Shepherd is barking a lot and I am sick of my neighbors complaining about my dog. I don’t know what to do, I did all the training and yet my dog is barking a lot. My dog is amazing dog, looks damn aggressive and protective but he will not bite or attack anyone. Loves to play with kids. And understands the basic commands. But for god sake it’s a German Shepherd that is so strong and active. I will try to do what is possible, but I am still not so sure on what I could do, should I give up my dog? I have 1300 square meter garden that my dog is running around. Or should I really tell my neighbors to fk off? I don’t know what to do also.

          • So your neighbors are wrong because your dog can’t stop barking? You’re sick of your neighbors complaining? How about your neighbors must be sick of your dog. Look, just because you think your dog is an “amazing dog” and looks “damn aggressive” doesn’t mean your neighbors feel that way.
            Did you get your dog only for the looks? Do you spend proper time and give that dog breed the proper exercise and attention it needs so it’s not barking so much? That breed has a loud bark. Surely you knew that about the breed before You decided to own one. Be a responsible owner and care for it properly. So it doesn’t bark so much. The neighbors have a right to peace too.

  3. Pam, I just experienced the same thing today with my neighbor. I recently got a new best friend (9 month miniature poodle) she barely barks & I heard my neighbor (that has loud teenagers, two non-stop barking dogs) telling my dog “Shut the F*** **Dog”… Yikes
    I was ready to go kick ass… yet I relaxed & I sent her a text stating “I’m sorry, if my new puppy that’s in training & barking disturbed you but she is gated in our courtyard & has a 30 minute playtime. It was only 4pm Ca.

    Bottom line, we don’t owe anyone an apology. Live life Stress Free.

    My Puppy Is A legit, Legit, Service Dog!!!

    My neighbor doesn’t understand my medical issues & she is stressing me out more then she will ever know.

    God Bless

    • Legit Service Dog? Does not mean you can let it annoy your neighbors. Train it, keep it quiet it is your responsibility to do so not theirs.

      • CGR seems like a fking as hol, dog owners are doing their best to be patient with as hol neighbors. It is our land and house. We are doing our best to train our dogs. Dogs are living thing, people like us are protecting the animals and providing care. Isolated cunts like you, are the ones destroy the lives of animals. Try to care for other living things before trolling.

  4. How about keeping your dogs quiet? What a concept! Would you put up with your neighbor playing loud music at intervals all day and night? And to the one person that says all neighbors are assholes? Nothing tops Asshole like a lazy dog owner that thinks everyone should have to put up with their barking dogs. People have a right to peace and quiet in their own home. Put the barking flea bags inside so they can annoy you and not your neighbors, have some damn respect for others.

    • My dogs don’t sit outside barking, you damn troll. They are trained German Shepherds. Obviously you are a dog HATER. Dogs BARK. Kids scream. If you can’t take it (living in a community with kids and dogs), move to a desolate atoll in the Pacific, and stick a pencil eraser in your ears.

      • You are an asshole.. People like you with no common sense are the ones who shouldn’t be allowed to own animals.. I have two dogs of my own.. But I will be god damned if I’m going to try and enjoy my backyard with a dog barking non stop . Fuck your thinking tough guy.. I’m assuming you don’t have a neighbor with a dog that does not shut up… until you do….. kindly mind your own business.. If you had a dog next door that wouldn’t shut up? You’d know it is most annoying…. Fu very much

      • TR
        That’s really responsible. Just because people can’t stand barking annoying dogs doesn’t mean they are dog haters. It’s your responsibility of a dog owner to care for them properly. Don’t allow them to bark and annoy everyone. Not everyone thinks it’s cute!

    • yes!! Thank you! These dog owners who let their dogs just bark incessantly and then wonder why people get annoyed with them. Be a responsible damn dog owner or don’t own one.

  5. I moved into a upper middle class culdsac & had a neighbor who kept their small yappy dog outside 24/7 & alls it ever did was bark bark bark.. ! most likey for stress & attension it never got, i feel dog owners if your going to have a dog you should treat it like it was your child not a piece of disposible property to keep locked up outside… there is a place in HELL for dumb ass pet owner who neglect taking care of things in life there pets their children their property.. etc etc… i nicely asked these people at least 4 times to please keep their dog quiet but they ignored my request i had to move away after owning house for only 2.5 months lucky i was able to sell my home emediatly.. it was a very nice home… i bought a 2nd home out in the country no stinking loser trailer trash neigbors to deal with now… I don’t even care for people any longer anymores… i believe in KARMA & people deserve what they get the bad ones deserve nothing….

  6. I have to English bulldog’s that are very sweet in nature. They are inside dogs and the only time they’re allowed outside is to relieve themselves. On the other side of the fence happens to be 3 dogs who stay outside 24/7 and unfortunately when my dogs are out and their dogs are out they all charge the fence. 3rd party neighbor complains and now I have the citation. Feedback?

    • Talk to your HOA or whomever cited you, and have the citation dismissed. It is baseless if dogs are allowed in the neighborhood and especially if you have your dog behind a fence. The person who leaves dogs outside 24/7 should be cited for animal neglect. Call the ASPCA or your local animal control authority.

  7. Wait for an opportunity for the dog to be out and shoot it dead. Your neighbor cares nothing for your peace of mind and is killing you in increments too minor to be considered a crime. You indeed MAY shoot a loose dog. Or just move away like KCW had to. The poor home owner who had to give up a home for peace of mind from low-life’s and endless barking. As for TR, you are beneath contempt and likely on parole. Hopefully, they get you back soon.

    • if you really are a police officer then keeping the peace should be your primary concern ,, advice like just ignore the problem hardly seems like something a peace officer would offer

  8. Be aware of the federal cruelty to animals law that went into effect 2019. Fine and/or up to 7 years in prison.

    Don’t shoot or hurt any animal.

  9. I am with Just Sayin,,, ,,, kids yelling and dogs barking just deal with it ??? really ??? that does not make for a good neighborhood. I too had a dog for years and worked very hard to control her barking,, i paid attention to her barks and learned her language,, why she was barking and at what. I just earned the right to retire,, and all i have wanted to do for 40+ years of working is sleep in,, no alarm clocks,, no having to go to bed at a set time to get to work ,, enter the new neighbors with 2 kids (which are quiet but play out front at times) and the endless barking dog from hell,,, REALLY ?? I JUST RETIRED AND WANT TO SLEEP IN ,,,, i called the police who told me to call the humane society who told me they would send a letter if this was the first complaint ,, they would send a real person if there were mutliple complaints,,,,, what a waste i thought ,, they would probably just throw the letter away thinking it junk mail like most people do… anyway ,, i figured ok,, im going out of town for a week we’ll see what its like when i get back. (mind you i patiently waited 6 months for them to do something about this dog),, anyway i came back home and guess what,, NOTHING,, they did absolutely nothing about it,, so a couple times (maybe i had a little wine) i screamed at their dog to shut up ,, (hopefully they think im just a crazy lady)… still nothing,,, here is what i have done 1st i spent 45$ on a battery anti barking device that looks like a bird house i put in my tree,, it senses the dogs bark and emits a high frequency people cant hear but annoys the dog,,, hmmm well,,, worked pretty darn good,, i would say it cut the barking down by about 50% still not enough for me though ,, so upgrade to 200$ model,,, i just put it in the tree.. If your defending the dog owner dont,, thats totally unfair to all the other nieghbors,,, i litterally had been sleeping with ear plugs in my ears and in the morning that didnt even help i had to put noise cancelling headphones over myh ears that already had ear plugs in them to be able to sleep through its high pitched crazy making barking…. be persistant,,, file a law suit if you have to video tape the behavior whatever it takes dog owners MUST BE RESPONSIBLE,,, I WAS

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