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Neighbor’s Barking Dog

Hi John!!

I have a problem with the neighbours. Nice couple, don’t know them but to say ‘Hello” on occasion. They have a small dog. It barks. For example it barked for 2 hours straight last night, 9:30 till 11:30. I love dogs, but most people must have blinders on when it comes to their little schnookems. I am going crazy and I’m 4 houses down from them…..HELP!! What do I do? – Sam


Dear Sam,

I had a neighbour once with a constantly barking dog. I think the dog’s name was “SHUTUP!” The other neighbours seemed to love that dog as many a summer night you could hear them over their respective fences competing for the dog’s attention, calling, “SHUTUP!”

A dog’s bark ranges from 60 to 110 decibels. At its loudest that puts it in the vicinity of a car horn or a chainsaw. That’s a bit much to expect a neighbour to have to put up with particularly if they keep their windows open in the summer because they don’t have air conditioning or are having a few friends over for a barbecue or work shifts and must sleep in the day time.

Excessive barking is not normal or healthy. You don’t find dogs that have gone feral yapping their fool heads off. At least you wouldn’t find them alive. Barking would just attract unwanted attention by smarter predators not to mention warning away any potential dinner of their own.

A house dog is supposed to bark when something unusual is happening in contrast to what normally happens in their environment. They hear, see or smell something out of the ordinary and they sound the alarm. That’s one of the reasons we formed the “man’s best friend” partnership in the first place. What does that say about the dogs that are barking all the time with the smallest provocation? It means they’re in a state of agitation every time the slightest thing happens.

Think about it. Make a mental list of all the things the average excessively barking dog barks at. Squirrel in the yard, door bell, seeing a dog, cat, person, bicycle etc. walking by. All pretty normal day to day things right? Now imagine yourself reacting to these things on an equivalent scale. One second you’re your in a relatively calm state and then you spy the neighbour in their yard and you start doing back flips, screaming “INTRUDER ALERT!” at the top of your lungs, fling yourself at the door or fence, and all in all put yourself just short of a coronary. Somebody would be telling you to see a doctor and get on some medication or your kids would be putting you in a home.

Dog’s can bark just because they want attention as well. Heck, they’re generally so under stimulated physically and mentally that after a while good or bad attention they don’t even care what kind  they get from us. Watching the veins bulging in our foreheads as we’re chasing them around the yard simultaneously yelling “Come Here!” and “Shut Up!” seems worth it enough to many. Life has to be pretty bad if that amounts to an exciting day for a dog.

So how do you train your neighbours to train their dog Well most people having been in your shoes will tell you as you already suspect that the direct approach is more likely to start a feud. You might broach it anonymously by collecting a bunch of dog trainer business cards and including it with a note that says, “I love you, my neighbour. I even love your dog. (This can be your one lie of the year.) But the barking is driving me nuts. Please do something about it.” signed, – The neighbours. If that fails, call the bylaw enforcement people. The amount of the fines are generally pretty motivating. Remember, you’re doing this as well for the dog. Excessively barking dogs are generally pretty stressed out dog.

-John Wade 

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