5 Things to Do When a Neighbor Complains About Dog Barking

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

183

The natural thing to do when a neighbor complains about dog barking 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 barking.

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.

Previous articleOn-Leash Training Blossoming into Off-Leash Reliability
Next articleRescue Hoarding
Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, grew up in a family that was blessed with lots of animal companions: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, and more, and has maintained that model ever since. She spent the first 20 years of her professional life working at the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, California, for most of that time as a humane officer and director of operations. She continually studied the art and science of dog training and behavior during that time, and in 1996, left MHS to start her own training and behavior business, Peaceable Paws. Pat has earned a number of titles from various training organizations, including Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She also founded Peaceable Paws Academies for teaching and credentialing dog training and behavior professionals, who can earn "Pat Miller Certified Trainer" certifications. She and her husband Paul and an ever-changing number of dogs, horses, and other animal companions live on their 80-acre farm in Fairplay, Maryland.

183 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.

    • I have 2 dogs and kids.
      My kids don’t scream and my dogs don’t bark.

      Shut ya dog up or get rid of it and let the kids enjoy their pool in peace next door.
      Just because they have a party now and then (probably once a month) is not the same as your dog barking EVERYDAY

      • “I have 2 dogs and kids.
        My kids don’t scream and my dogs don’t bark.”
        Good job demonstrating you weren’t capable of fully reading the previous comment. Pam’s neighbors have children who scream and three dogs who bark, and clearly they regularly have parties otherwise it wouldn’t be worth describing as “usually full on party music.” A dog barking in reaction to kids yelling or other dogs barking =/= “your dog barking everyday” in response to nothing. Congrats on your kids and your dogs but you’re obviously not her neighbor. Grow up and don’t take your own beef out on someone else with a legitimate issue via making baseless accusations and assumptions.

          • I’m agreeing with the Dog LOVERS! Young kids do scream and get excited fact, dogs do bark fact! Stop waking people up partying or blasting your music, maybe that’s to blame for the Dog barking! Dog’s bark for a reason, that’s how they communicate! You’d soon be grateful to the Dog if it was barking at an intruder or burglars

          • I agree with you that barking is for communication, but the question is, some dogs bark at unnecessary things, when master comes home, when people walks by the road, when stray dogs walk by the yard, they need more training, patience, ther think their territory is the whole world!

          • “comprehension” issues, ironically.
            Dog lovers are the most arrogant people. Most of us are on this particular page because you bought an animal you’re incapable of training, madam.

        • @ “f”
          “””””””Dog lovers are the most arrogant people.””””””””
          And here YOU are calling dog lovers “arrogant people”
          GET REAL you Condescending Hypocritical “arrogant” & Opinionated t***!
          You obviously haven’t a clue about “love” or “dogs” have you …
          IDIOT

      • My neighbors dog climbs on the fence and looks and barks at the kid or anytime I open the door to go outside. These dogs are out all day? I plan on talking to them because I want to have a get together in the back yard but don’t want the constant dog peeping over and barking to ruin it. And it’s Rottweiler.(I am sure it can’t be dangerous)

      • Shut up ! Dogs bark . They are allowed to bark when someone gets to close to the house . As long as the dog stops barking when the person passes no harm done . My dogs are absolutely allowed to bark if I had you as a neighbor I would allow them to bark at you a minute or so . If her dog barks on occasion that’s not against the law . My german shepherds bark if someone comes to close to my privacy fence . If I hear my dogs barking more than 30 seconds I go see what the problem is and usually bring them in that’s the responsible thing to do . My dogs are not allowed to bark in morning or after 9 pm not even once that’s being respectful . I feel sorry for your dogs . I don’t complain about the other neighbor dogs barking non stop this is what dogs do 🤦‍♀️

        • I agree. I have a neighbor who sleeps with her windows open 365 days a year. I have lived next door for 10 years. I have always had dogs. They bark. Up until last summer, if I apoligized for my dogs barking, her reply was always, “oh, there no problem, I love dogs” Now if they bark once she yells and screams out the window for them to SHUT UP. I have a fenced in yard that my dogs can no longer enjoy, because I am constantly on edge waiting for a bark. I have purchased anti barking collars, and I yell, “No barking” as soon as they bark. I have 2 little dogs, 10 pounds each, and a 9 month old lab pup. I broke down and purchased a shock collar for my puppy today. I’m sorry, but this is breaking my heart. To the pers Maybe if you on who said to get rid of the dog, shame on you! Dogs are not disposable! Maybe you should be the one to leave. When my husband shot himself a couple of years ago, my dogs licked my tears away. They neighbors reaction? “Oh, that’s just all I need” Never, are you ok can I do anything for you. I will NEVER give up my dogs. I try to be a very good neighbor, no one else in the neighborhood has a problem, just her. She will be carried out on a stretcher before my dogs go anywhere. Sounds harsh. I just had another smal stroke because of the pressure she puts on me.

          • If this lady was fine with your dogs for ten years and now she’s having problems with them, that sounds like a behavioral change for your neighbor, and that could be a result of a health issue. Are there any friends or family members you can talk to? She might need help.

        • Pity everyone doesnt have your attitude I agree with you 100%
          We have dogs on our private property who bark only if someone comes to the door or with excitement if we return after being away for a while they never ever bark at night NEVER and are all kept indoors in our bedrooms and sleep with us I have been down to the environmental section of the council and they reassured me that my dogs barking during the day is not an issue and is actually allowed because of the time and length they are barking at/for …some people just complain as it’s a polished way of bullying and sometimes it can be done to cover up jealousy when they are annoyed over you getting a new car or they see a workman doing some home improvements to your property I’ve been there we had some work being done on our property and our neighbour sent a text to ask if we could hold off on the hammering that he was tired and was going to bed this was at 7:40pm on a summers evening in June the bathroom walls needed to be slabbed before getting plastered the next day even the workman said he was ‘out of order ‘ and questioned his mental stability

          • I wouldnt put a barking devuce on my dog unless she started doing it incessantly, all dogs have times when they bark its their communication, excited, warning you, etc. Maybe they dont like your neighbour, they’ll pick uo on yoyr anxiety over the neighbour too, I have a control freak if a neighbour who used to have a jack russel evety time she went oyt swimming 3times a week it would bark for the whole time she was out. Unfortunately their is practically no sound proofing in our party walls so it sounded really loud, I didnt complain because its not her fault the landlords haven’t done anything about it. However since covid she has become mentally ill from being restricted to home & has started banging on my bedroom wall on the odd occasion my dog barks in the morning (after 7am) to be let out for a pee, so its a short bark not for hours on end. Banging on the wall is totally unacceptable, the problem is with her, she needs help for her mental health, before I movrd here she had made unnecessary exaggerated complaints to the landlord about all three of the previous tenants, her own teenage son constantly woke up the neighbours revving his car up at night & in the early morning, & her own voice was so loud you could hear her in the livingroom. Shecneeds to be rehoused in a bungalow down a long track with only sheep for neighbours 😂

        • There are responsible Dog owners and then there are the others. I am retired and have a Neighbour with a Dog. It barks when people walk by and then it is quiet. Unlike the one next to him. It barks near my back yard, not just for a minute or so but goes on for quiet some time for a couple or so of times a day. I think it comes down to in having consideration and respect for your surrounding neighbourhood. It is Not ok for a Dog to bark encroaching on other peoples
          Piece and quiet. It is Not ok to say that is what Dogs do.

          • thank you. i have no problem with dogs occasionally barking during the day, but my Mexican neighbors have a sheep dog with a deep bark from 12 – 7 am. It is driving me crazy. It gets nearby dogs going too. After it started barking at 3 am continually, my brother drove over there at 5:30 am. The Mexican owner said he owns a farm (only like 3 acres and he got houses all around him) and it’s okay in the country. If it were the city, it’d be different. And the neighbors said they’re okay with it. His wife just sent me a hostile text saying not to come onto their private property at 6 am anymore. i’ve extended as much courtesy as I can, and i need some sleep. I’ll be contacting the neighbors to get the real story, document the barks and actions taken, as well as contacting the police station.

          • You want peace and quit move to the country where there is no people dogs maybe a bear . Dog bark and have a right to be outside in there yard. I have a neighbor who is going to court very soon. HE IS RIDICULOUS.

        • I wish all dog owners were as responsible as you are. A 30 second dog bark is nothing! My problem is my neighbor got his dog and all was well when he was home. Now he has a girlfriend and quite frequently leaves on the weekends. The dog barks on and off at different times of night. Last night it was from 10-11 PM. I’ve heard the dog bark and wake me up at 1:30 AM! It’s a Pitbull so his bark is very loud! I rarely see the tenant, so I’ve left him notes. He seems like a nice person, and I do like his dog. I understand the dog is protecting his domain. But this excessive late-night barking has to stop! Last note I left I told him I’m contacting the landlord! I’ve had enough!

      • Well that was impressively unhelpful, madechi. Sure, your perfect kids and dogs never make noise…..riiiight. Everything else you said after that is dismissed as idiocy, since it’s impossible to get past your first supremely stupid remark. lol