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A Responsible Dog Owner Is a Good Neighbor

Lori is passionate about dogs. She loves sharing her personal experiences with her canine friends.


I have a great love for dogs. Although I currently do not have one, I have had many, and even did house and dog sitting for a few years. I've also had my fair share of neighbors with dogs. On occasion, it was not a pleasant experience.

I am going to share personal experiences about neighbors with dogs before facts and tips. Stories pack a better punch.

Endless Barking

The All Night Barker

When my husband and I moved into our first home, there were scads of young families teeming with children and pets. The neighbors next door had a dog who barked outside every night, ALL night long. The master bedroom where my husband and I slept was very close to the fence.

Otherwise nice people, I decided to approach them nicely and diplomatically. I was friendly and gave the wife a heads up on the all-night barking and it was keeping us up. She said her dog didn't bark and besides he's a watchdog. I went a few more times but she was insulted by our complaint about her precious pooch.

Eventually, my husband broke and went over there and read her the riot act (I highly recommend NOT doing this). Her husband came over and yelled at my husband for yelling at his wife. Fair enough. The neighbor on the other side had complained too, we later found out. We should have just reported it.

The Howler

Once new neighbors moved in and they got a dog about a year or so old. They left him in the yard when they went to work. The dog howled for three hours every time they left home. I felt so sorry for him but it also drove me crazy. I figured they weren't aware of it. So I wrote them a note saying "You are such good neighbors. I thought I'd let you know your puppy is so sad when you leave every morning that he howls for hours. I know you're probably not aware of it so just a heads up." I gave them a few ideas for solutions.

The man came over and apologized and was indeed unaware of it. He thanked me for letting him know. The dog never howled again.

The video below provides one inventive solution for the dog owner or the neighbor. It is not an ideal solution for every situation.

“Can't you shut that dog up?"

The boy gave me a pitying look. "Not really," he said. "Vlad's a believer in free speech.”

— Joanne Harris, Peaches for Father Francis

Dogs Who Bite and Attack

Not all dog bites are caused by a mean dog or an owner's irresponsibility. People should learn dog safety to prevent being bitten. Especially children. More on that later.

Other times, owners are irresponsible with their dogs, either knowing their dog has a propensity to bite or not caring if they bite someone.

  1. A neighbor I once had would let his dog out while he was tinkering in the garage. One day my 70-year-old neighbor on the other side of me went to his mailbox, minding his own business. The dog ran up and bit him. He went over to the dog owner and told him, "Your dog just bit me, you need to keep him locked in the yard." The man with the dog exploded and loudly told him it was his fault. I was there and it was not his fault. When it happened again my bitten neighbor called animal control.
  2. My friend and I were going for our daily walk around the neighborhood and stopped to talk to a mutual friend whose fancy dog was on the lawn. We were chatting and out of the blue, the darling ran up and bit my walking friend. The neighbor laughed. "Oh, he does that sometimes." Then he did it on another occasion. Again the woman thought it was cute. Because the dog owner was a friend, my bitten friend didn't want to make too many waves. She had to have medical attention and still has the scars.
  3. Several years ago I was walking my collie Nellie down a residential street in my neighborhood. I'd never taken that route before. As we passed by a house, a dog charged out of an open garage and attacked Nellie. No one was around and I was terrified. She fought back but was way overpowered. Thankfully a relative drove up and broke it up and apologized for his dog owner relative. Neighbors have complained for years but the dog owner doesn't care.
  4. My sister had a four pound Papillon with three legs named Petey. She was just starting on a walk when a woman with a pitbull dropped the leash and it proceeded to attack poor Petey. The injuries were so bad my sister had to put him down.
Little Petey was attacked and had to be put down.

Little Petey was attacked and had to be put down.

Aggression in a dog is similar to aggression in a human. We're both scared of what we don't understand, and our need to protect leads to aggression. Changing that aggression in a dog is more complex because the dog doesn't speak English, so I had to learn to speak dog.”

— Andre Gatling, Penelope's Bully


Owners need to take responsibility if their dog is known to escape frequently. Fix the escape route. I know some dogs are masterful escape artists and outsmart the owner at every effort. I have sympathy. I personally don't mind a dog coming into my yard for a quick romp or sitting on the lawn soaking up the sun if I know it's friendly. But if Nellie were still here, they might harm her, or more likely, she might run off them. No one should ever let their dog deliberately roam off-leash with no supervision.

I sometimes find dogs roaming the neighborhood consistently. No doubt they have escaped or the owner doesn't care that they're loose. They follow people around and approach other dogs walking with their owners, trespass on property, pester people and other dogs, and poop everywhere they go. Sometimes they are threatening and even attack. Children are particularly vulnerable. Some dogs have caused the destruction of property.

It is also important for the dog's own safety. Vengeful people may harm the dog or steal it if it's a nice breed, and other dogs may attack yours. Happens all the time. If it's a small dog, eagles and coyotes could attack them.

Things Dog Owners Should Consider

  • Even the best-behaved dog can bite if feeling threatened, frightened, or in pain.
  • Dog owners often grow accustomed to their dog's incessant barking but must consider that others are not.
  • Being a considerate dog owner means you will have friendly relationships in the neighborhood.
  • The majority of people are not being mean, insulting, or harassing you and your dog by complaining about problems with your dog.
  • Be willing to hear them out and don't get defensive. Accept your Fido may well be misbehaving. Apologize and show through word and deed you will try to correct or prevent the problem.
  • Realize you and your dog are not entitled, the exception, and too special to have to correct or prevent the issues brought to your attention. There is no excuse to be nasty or amused when a legitimate issue with your dog is brought to your attention.
  • It is not cute, funny, or no big deal when your dog bites someone. My goodness, that is terrible. Try to think about another person's dog biting you or worse, one of your children. And one of these days you'll be in a heap of trouble.
  • Some people are afraid of dogs because of past bad experiences.
  • It is not the other person's responsibility to correct your dog or to find a solution if your dog continuously behaves badly.
  • If you want to bring your dog when you visit with people, find out if he is welcome and make sure he behaves. If they prefer you not bring your dog, don't try to talk them into it by boasting how your dog is well behaved, especially if he is not. If your dog is well-behaved, that might not be the issue. They may not like dogs, are allergic, or have a pet that doesn't do well with other pets. The reason isn't important. Just respect them and don't bring your dog.

Please Do and Please Don't

  • Keep your dog contained for delivery people and people walking by. Secure gates, doors, and fences.
  • Teach your dog (especially larger ones) not to jump on people. It's annoying, their nails scratch, and they can knock people over. Some people don't mind, but many do.
  • If your dog is aggressive with other dogs don't let them off-leash unsupervised even if you are at the dog park.
  • Spay and neuter. Dogs in heat draw other dogs who may fight with each other or be aggressive to anyone nearby. There are low and no-cost spay-neuter services usually in your county if you can't afford it. Look into it.
  • Keep your dog's shots up to date. By law, they have to be immunized for rabies periodically. Sometimes large pet shops offer certain immunizations at a discount price.
  • If your dog is frightened in situations where there are a lot of people, keep them home or don't go. It's not fair to him or others and it poses a risk of biting, even if he is a sweet dog.
  • If your dog snarls and nips at people while you are carrying them around in public, warn people not to get close, or better yet, keep them away from people.
  • Clean up dog poop if your dog wanders into another's yard and messes on their lawn.
  • Get training if your dog has bad habits like digging, barking for long periods of time, biting, or jumping on people. It can be costly, so search for something that fits your budget. You can also find books and videos.
  • Muzzle your dog or crate him when going to the vet or groomer if experience has shown he will be aggressive with the staff or other animals in the waiting area. It's only for a short time.
  • If you have a watchdog in the car and need to leave a window down, make sure the window is up far enough so he won't be able to lunge out and bite someone who is not bothering them.
  • If your dog is infested with fleas, keep him away from other homes, especially where dogs are present. Treat them.
  • If you want your dog unleashed take him to places with a low population like a quiet beach, country road, dog park, etc.
  • Use baggies at parks and on walks.
  • Keep the dog away from visitors if he is not friendly.

There's a world of difference between a dog that is off the leash and a dog that is trained to be off the leash.”

— Don Sullivan

This off leash puppy seems to be having a good time.

This off leash puppy seems to be having a good time.

This cutie is looking for a way out.

This cutie is looking for a way out.

Suggestions to Neighbors of Dog Owners

Being a good neighbor goes both ways. Here are some suggestions if there is an ongoing problem.

  • For the first visit, come with an amiable attitude, and use diplomacy with the intent to inform them not to accuse them. If you blast them right off you've already lost the battle.

If there is no effort on the owner's part, check with other neighbors to see if they have the same experience or concerns. If their attempts at resolution failed, try one of these:

  • Write a letter or a neighborhood petition to the Homeowner's Association if you have one, and to the landlord if it's a renter.
  • Call animal control, even the police in some circumstances. Citations, fines, impounding, and eviction might change everything.
  • Poisoning, shooting, or stealing a dog is inhumane, sick, morally wrong, and against the law.

Other Things to Know

  • Don't always assume a loose dog is the owner's fault. Sometimes the little stinkers get away and the owner is frantic to find it. If it's friendly, find the information on its tag and contact the owner or vet. Also, you can go on social media with a photo.
  • Understand that many dogs bark when you knock at the door. They are not disturbing your peace in their own home. The dog is letting his master know something's up, or they are excited someone has come for a visit.
  • If the owner is doing their best but not succeeding and you have experience with practical, safe solutions, suggest them in a friendly way to the owner. You might even demonstrate.
  • Help your neighbor search for their lost canine friend.
  • If you visit someone and they are trying to train their dog, don't counter their efforts by encouraging the dog to do what it shouldn't.
  • Don't complain if there is nothing to complain about. Don't be that curmudgeon neighbor who's always complaining just because your and their dog exist.

Make Friends With Sparky

Get to know the dogs of family, friends, and neighbors you frequently visit. Bring them a treat (with permission), love on them, play with them, and develop a relationship with them. Nothing is more wonderful than visiting Aunt Martha and Sparky goes bananas because his friend has come to see him. At the same time, learn and respect what makes them uncomfortable. Listen to Uncle Joe's cues on how to approach and handle an issue. A dog might be shy and afraid by nature or may have been abused in a certain way. He may not like to be petted in certain ways. It's important not to force yourself on a shy pooch. Also, ask the owner what is the best way to make friends.

If Brutus is jumping on you and you don't find it endearing, ask your friend what to do to stop it if they aren't saying anything, or tell them why it bothers you.

Love thy neighbor's puppy.

Love thy neighbor's puppy.

When Rover Visits

Sometimes, friends, family, and neighbors like to bring their doggies over when they visit. If you don't mind, hallelujah. If you have any objections find a friendly voice and politely ask them not to bring them, or if Rover does something you don't like, politely ask that Rover not do that. A relative used to bring his little poodle Pepper over when we had family get togethers. One time he put Pepper on the kitchen table we were planning to eat at later. Pepper was scared and peed on the table. I was told Pepper does that sometimes but not on purpose. We also had a brand new leather sofa and Pepper was running wild on it. His nails were not clipped well so he was making scratches. I told said relative I would rather Pepper not run on the new sofa indicating the obvious scratches. Said relative's wife told me Pepper's nails are clipped and don't make scratches, it was probably my kids. Eventually, we had to ask them to leave Pepper home. As a matter of fact, one of their dear friends they used to visIt frequently told them they were no longer welcome because Pepper peed all over her carpet with every visit. It wasn't about Pepper, he was a sweet dog. But Mommy and Daddy had the issue: Entitlement and disrespect for our boundaries. Talk about strain in the family.

If you have children at home and a dog visits, teach your kids how to treat the pooch, especially if they are not around dogs much. They need to have as much respect for the dog and their owner's wishes as we would expect from them.

It's nice to give the dog a bowl of water and a treat of some sort, but ask the owner if it's okay. Or maybe they can bring treats. If they are frequent visitors, have a toy the dog can play with if so inclined.


There's nothing better than having a friendly neighborhood. But sometimes it gets messy when pets are out of control. Both parties should do their best to be kind, unselfish, and respectful even with people we don't like. It's hard to keep our cool after prolonged efforts. I have. Apologize and think before you speak. When there is one party who won't budge and is still hostile, it may be time to find outside resources. That takes the burden off of you.

But really, it is so simple to be respectful.


© 2019 Lori Colbo


Lori Colbo (author) from United States on August 05, 2019:

Hi Marlene, I'm happy you got out of there. I hope your new living situation is a bark free environment.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on August 05, 2019:

Fortunately, I have moved away from that neighborhood.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on August 04, 2019:

Dora, you are very fortunate to never have had a barking dog nearby ruining your peace. I recently heard from a friend that her son-in-law works for a dog insurance company. The employees are allowed to bring their dogs to work so the office is filled with dogs and all their paraphernalia. They also have dog walkers. Crazy.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 04, 2019:

Thanks, Lori. How I wish all the irresponsible dog owners would read your article. Never had problems with barkers, but I once lived in a retirement community where the residents let their dogs loose while they complained about children running about. Whenever I heard them complaining, I would volunteer that I love the children so much more than dogs. I don't hate dogs, though.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on August 03, 2019:

Monica, it is indeed sad that there are inconsiderate pet owners out there.

Monica from United States on August 03, 2019:

Hi Lori, thank you for the article it was a good read. It's a shame that all dog owner's are not good dog owner's.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on August 03, 2019:

Ruby, I'm so glad you've never had to deal with problems from a troublesome dog or pet owner. And I'm really sorry you can't have a pet. They are a blessing.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on August 03, 2019:

I have not had this problem, but I can imagine how irritating this would be. I am allergic to all animal dander, therefore I can't have an animal. I would dearly love to have a small dog and cat. I have tried several times, the last time I had the doggie for three days before my eye's began to swell. A responsible animal owner should see that their animals behave. Good info. Well done..

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on August 03, 2019:

Greetings Marlene, how awful that woman is. She is the very type I meant. Fat chance she'd ever read this article. One look at the title and she would run off or flip me the bird. I hope it gets resolved. Call police or animal control and see if there's anything they can do. Good luck.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on August 03, 2019:

Oh Pop, I feel for you. A few years back two young men moved into a house behind me. All was quiet until ten p.m. when EVERY night for ten months parties started. They had a very talented drummer who enhanced our neighborhood experience not to mention the whooping and reveling by drunks in the backyard. I called the police many times as I'm sure others did. They might quiet down after a cop visit but the next night they were back at it. I remember every time the drums beat I could literally feel the vibration. I hope both of your neighbors get nailed and stop.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on August 03, 2019:

Hi Bill, it sounds like Maggie is a sweet well-behaved girl so I have no doubt you and Bev are responsible loving masters to all of your puppies.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on August 03, 2019:

Pamela, I hope people read it too, but I suspect the title will be off-putting to those guilty of being a poor, dog owning neighbor.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on August 03, 2019:

Eric, you're not a dog you're a loveable puppy.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on August 03, 2019:

I wish your article could be mandatory reading for dog owners. Dogs that bite aren't cute and dogs that bark incessantly are such a nuisance.

I once had a neighbor who had a little dog that barked all day long. Other people complained. I complained, and mind you, I do not like confronting people. But, this was a big deal to me. Imagine, I was very sweet and gentle in my approach to inform the neighbor about her barking dog. Well, she snapped at me and if you could see the look in her eyes you would have thought she was possessed by an evil spirit, "Dogs bark!" She screamed at me and slammed the door shut. Of course, the dog then barked at that commotion.

That neighbor never spoke to me again and when she walked her little dog each day, she would turn her head away from my house as if to make a statement. A funny thing is that while the neighbor walked with her head turned in the other direction, the dog would turn in my direction and bark at my house. It was like he was angry too and wanted to let me know about it.

Yes. Dogs bark. And, some people are just plain rude about it.

breakfastpop on August 03, 2019:

Sadly, one of my neighbors has three dogs who bark all the time. Then again, I have another neighbor who plays the drums and I don't know which is worse.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2019:

We have three and they are a handful....but we love them of course, and we do everything we can to monitor their behavior and make sure they are good neighbors.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 03, 2019:

I agree that if you have a dog, be a responsible pet owner. I have never been bitten I am happy to say. At our previous home on one side of us, they kept a chow chained up all the time. Of course, he barked and the people could have cared less. On the other side of us, they did have a fenced-in area for their German Shephard, but they would leave him out for long periods of time and he barked also during the day, but fortunately not at night.

You make so many excellent points in this article Lori that I hope all pet owners read it.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 02, 2019:

Wonderful Lori. My son and I kind of think that we are puppy dogs in the back yard. I have a buddy whose dog is his world. A neighbor just lost his the other day. My other neighbor got rid of his mean and nasty after a child in the home. I was youngest of seven until Sophie died and I was elevated to youngest of six. I ain't never met a dog I could not find something to like about". I wonder why folks call me a dog ;-)