Viola enjoys passing on the nuggets of wisdom she's collected. She has made eye contact with Robert Redford and chatted with Julia Roberts.
Bark, Bark, Arf, Arf, Yap, Yap, Yap
Whether you have a dog or not, if you live in a populated neighborhood, you are bound to have a yapper or two. While most dogs bark at the occasional rabbit or mailman, some dogs can go on for hours and wear on your last nerve. Before it snaps, take a few tried-and-true steps to restore peace and quiet to your community without alienating your neighbors.
Why Dogs Bark
Until we can truly get inside a dog's head, we won't know exactly why a dog barks. But, based on her behavior, we can often guess why a dog barks. Someone rings the doorbell, and the dog barks to communicate a warning. You show him a tennis ball, and he barks to indicate he wants to play. You've left her outside too long, and she barks to ask to be let in. Here are the most common reasons dogs bark:
- To protect his property from intruders.
- She's lonely or bored. Dogs are pack animals and can actually have separation anxiety.
- To get attention.
- When greeting or playing. Kids playing outside can trigger barking.
The Neighborly Option
Confrontation is not my strong point. However, I believe that meeting face-to-face softens any kind of complaint. If your neighbor's dog is forever barking at nothing in particular, your first step might be to meet with Rover's owner in a kind, friendly manner.
One option might be to buy a chew toy, put a bow on it, and knock on the neighbor's door. Perhaps you could introduce yourself with something like this:
"Hi. I'm your neighbor and I thought I would bring your little doggy a gift. He seems to be quite vocal and I thought this might calm him down. If it works, perhaps the other neighbors wouldn't mind chipping in to keep him stocked in chew toys. Do you think he would like it or do you have any other ideas?"
Don't visit when you are frustrated or angry. If the owner believes you want what's best for the dog, he may be more receptive to taking positive action.
The DIY Option
When I moved into my beautiful Colorado neighborhood, I was enthralled with the view of Pikes Peak, the park just a few doors down and the mature landscaping of the well-manicured yards. However, once we unloaded the truck and put our 7-year-old West Highland Terrier in the backyard, the nerve-wracking battle for turf began.
We had failed to notice that the neighbors just behind us had three large dogs that were very vocal about their territory. Add to that the house next to theirs had two small children who liked to feed the dogs through a hole in the fence, and it was a veritable three-ring circus.
Thinking they would all get used to each other, I tolerated the commotion for about two weeks in the middle of our gorgeous summer. When my family and I could stand it no longer, I went to the experts: Google. I found an ingenious device that emits a high-pitched sound that supposedly stops dogs from barking. It had mostly great reviews and it was less than $30! I ordered one with expedited shipping, popped the batteries into the lightweight device and set it near the fence while I paced nearby.
R-r-ruff! One of the dogs barked.
Arf! My dog responded. Then, silence for about a minute.
Another Grrff! and then it stopped altogether.
This device works by deterring a dog's bark with an ultrasonic sound, imperceptible to humans but effective on canines. It's small and waterproof so it's easy to leave outside. When another neighbor moved in next door with a chihuahua, I bought a second. It saved my sanity.
The Last Resort Option
If reasonable measures don't help quiet a dog's barking, it is possible to file a formal complaint. Most cities have noise ordinances that make it unlawful for owners of dogs or "other hoofed animals" to allow "unreasonably loud or persistent" barking, howling or other noise that disturbs the peace. You may file a noise complaint with the city who will then investigate the circumstances. If the animal control officer finds the noise to be unreasonably loud or persistent within the circumscribed perimeter (in Colorado Springs, the boundary is 500 feet from the outer perimeter of the property), the city can issue a legal warning to the pet's owner. If the owner does not take action to stem the problem within a reasonable amount of time, a citation can be issued. Citations often come with penalties and may require an appearance in court.