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Trouble with dogs and neighbors

mightyjongyomightyjongyo Sour CrrmEast Bay, CaliforniaRegistered User regular
Hm, so, interesting problem I've been having...

My dogs bark when my wife and I aren't at home. As far as I'm concerned this is something that dogs do. I've never seen a dog that didn't bark when people came near a fence. We are not the only dog owners on the block and in fact other dogs are louder than ours.

Recently a neighbor around the block has taken to ringing our doorbell at night and telling us to keep the dogs quiet (ironically, it wasn't our dogs as they have been inside since around 7pm. Granted I was gone all day so they may have barked during the day). The latest incident was just a few minutes ago (10 pm pst). It got a little heated (just raised voices) but it ended with me telling him that dogs are dogs and I have no intention of doing anything about it. And...also shutting the door in his face. Which, yes, wasn't very nice of me, but is besides the point as he clearly had no intention of leaving otherwise unless I rolled over for him. His 'suggestions' included keeping them inside, which as any working dog owner knows is not really feasible. Besides which, I believe I have the right to use my backyard as I please...

What I want to know is if he has any legal recourse, or I if I want to tell him to stick his complaints where the sun don't shine. I know he can file noise complaints with the police, but is calling animal control something he can do? And what can I do to protect against it/anything else? My main contention is that I can't do anything if I'm not at home...

I know he also has a right to a quiet neighborhood but I also have a right to use my backyard and let my dogs be. I would like to maintain the peace but this seems like one of those things which are not so cut and dry...

Any advice in dealing with this situation, dogs or neighbors both, would be helpful. (Bark collars or other suggestions harmful to my dogs aren't helpful, just to be clear).

Posts

  • finralfinral Registered User regular
    Legally, I don't think you have anything to worry about as long as your dogs aren't outside barking during hours that noise ordinances might take effect. Depends on where you are at, but I think pretty standard hours would be something like between 10pm and 8am.

    That being said, it is pretty annoying if a neighbors dog was barking outside all day. I'd say at the least, etiquette suggests you take them inside or something if they are barking when you are home. I don't know of any way to make your dogs not bark during the day, other than maybe thorough socializing with people passing by so that they get used to people outside the fence and know its ok.

  • SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    edited July 2013
    In my experience (which is limited to an island in the Pacific, so your experience will be different), he'd be within his rights to call animal control if the barking lasts in excess of half an hour, and it would take a few of those before the dogs could be removed. All you can really do is get your dogs to stop if you're home, since you're not willing to try a bark collar.

    Skeith on
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  • InvisibleInvisible Registered User regular
    It really depends on where you live. But like above he could call animal control and/or police and eventually get a court order for nuisance barking and that could lead to them removing your dog. I have three dogs and a fenced in backyard, but barking dogs are incredibly annoying. Just going dogs will be dogs is unfair to your neighbors if you're leaving your dogs out all day and they're continuously barking.

  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    usually the noise ordinance for dogs states that they have to be barking continuously for x amount of time and be unprovoked. no he cannot call animal control to take away dogs inside your property without a court order.

    I suggest that you look up your local noise ordinances to make sure you aren't at risk.

    as for your neighbor, you can....

    disconnect your doorbell and ignore him.
    tell him that he isn't welcome on your property and if he comes by again you'll call the police for trespassing.
    file a harassment complaint with the local municipal court.

  • DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdoor you're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
    edited July 2013
    There are limits on how long dogs can bark for unprovoked without incurring consequences, but these vary depending on where you live.

    Research it thoroughly, because as much as you might think it's your backyard and you can do what you please in it, the law in a lot of places doesn't agree and if your dogs really do bark for large portions of the day then it could cause you some problems.

    You also want to think about changing your attitude. A dog barking all day is incredibly annoying and if your dog is indeed doing it, your neighbour is well within his rights to bring this up with you and is totally justified in being upset or angry.

    You may feel in the right here, but you have no idea how long this might have been happening before he finally decided to take action and speak to you, and saying things like "dogs are dogs and I have no intention of doing anything about it" makes you the asshole, not him.

    Dhalphir on
  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    A constantly barking dog is incredibly annoying regardless of the time of day. If your dog is just barking continuously your neighbor isn't really in the wrong for asking you to do something about it.

  • Sir CarcassSir Carcass I have been shown the end of my world Round Rock, TXRegistered User regular
    If you have an HOA, also check their rules because there may be something in there about barking dogs. You don't want a fine or other HOA headaches on top of legal problems.

  • mightyjongyomightyjongyo Sour Crrm East Bay, CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    Sorry, my post was written right after he came by so emotions were a little high.

    I do keep them inside when I'm at home, and they are not barking during that time (although my neighbor cannot tell the difference). Unfortunately I'm not sure what I should do when I'm not at home. Also unfortunately I live in a neighborhood with a lot of retired folks so it is more likely to be a problem during the day.

    I feel bad for him, I understand his frustration and annoyance. I just don't think there's much I can do about it when I'm not home. Maybe the best option is to move somewhere with more dogs and working people...

  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    A dog occasionally barking is not a big deal. A dog barking constantly is a big deal, and yes, your neighbor can call whatever organizations are in your area. In general, someone will come by and listen -- if the dog is still barking and continues to bark for a period of time while the person is listening, you will get a fine. If there are repeated things, they can petition to take your dog. If your dog just barks occasionally, any government or organizational rep will basically chalk it up to "dogs being dogs."

    Note that depending on your city, leaving your dog outside can result in other fines, as well. There are dog poop fines where you cannot leave dog poop on your yard for more than 10 minutes, there are other fines for leaving a dog with no shelter or with unclean living conditions, and so on, depending on your local area.

    A well-behaved dog should have a secure, safe, shaded location while outside. It should not just be "your backyard," but there should be a dog house or crate that's well ventilated and that the dog is trained to like. You should be able to go in your backyard and give a command and your dog will go in to the dog house/crate.

    If the dog is simply out in the open all day, and there is no shelter, some argue that it's cruel and it will usually manifest in the dog being aggressive (and barking more) as it feels uncomfortable -- its owner is missing, it is exposed to the elements, and it has nowhere to feel safe -- and will bark as a means to compensate for its shitty environment. You probably notice that dogs on a walk by a yard containing a dog will not generally bark, while the dog in the yard will bark. The dog with its owner is secure and feels safe, while the other dog is freaking out because it sees the other dog encroaching its territory but knows that its owner isn't around and it has nowhere to retreat to.

    I have a very well-behaved dog and she still barks occasionally. It's usually just a bark or two and she's punished for it (we turn and ignore her, playtime is over, and she's told to DOWN and STAY) so she knows she's being bad when she barks, but she gets so excited that a bark still comes out sometimes. So yes, dogs do definitely bark, but your dog should be properly trained and should have comfortable living conditions outside.

    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
  • LankyseanLankysean Registered User regular
    edited July 2013
    Be careful with dogs outside all day unsupervised. That guy could do something nasty like leave your gate open when you aren't home or throw a piece of food with rat poison inside it into your yard. My wife is a vet a poisonings are more common than you might think.

    Also there are bark collars that don't hurt the dog, some just vibrate and others will made a high pitched noise when barking is detected.

    Lankysean on
  • mightyjongyomightyjongyo Sour Crrm East Bay, CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    We keep a large dog crate with a blanket inside as we'll as a water bowl outside on a deck/patio area, so they do have comfortable living conditions.

    I will try being outside with them when I know they will bark and training them to ignore it.

  • ihmmyihmmy Registered User regular
    we have neighbours who leave their dogs out all the time, and they are nearly constantly barking. It's amazingly obnoxious, but especially for anyone who doesn't keep a 9-5 routine and may be trying to sleep at 4pm. When lamenting the barking with a different neighbour, she did comment that we could just snip open the fence (chain link) :/ so messing with annoying neighbour dogs is something that crosses peoples minds.

    I'm a dog owner (2, no less!) and I don't understand why you can't keep them inside. My dogs get crated when no one is home. My cousin has a large dog (rottie shepherd cross) who they kept in their house whenever they are at work without issue - now that they are working longer hours they have someone take him for a noon walk but that's about it.

  • mightyjongyomightyjongyo Sour Crrm East Bay, CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    They are small dogs with small bladders, I don't think they can handle 9+ hours inside without incident :( . How big are your dogs? Is there any issue with there not being enough space in the crate for them to move around during the day?

  • mightyjongyomightyjongyo Sour Crrm East Bay, CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    I would also like to thank everyone in who posted here for helping me realize that it likely isn't just the one neighbor. I will keep exploring avenues to help my dogs bark less, so please keep the suggestions coming.

  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    Your and your wife's schedules actually keep the house empty for 9+ hours?

  • mightyjongyomightyjongyo Sour Crrm East Bay, CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    8 hour workday plus .5 to 1 hr commute each way, yes.

  • KarrmerKarrmer Registered User regular
    Bark collars and "shock" collars don't hurt dogs, honestly - not that I'm suggesting using one, but I've put them on myself and it's barely a mild tingle unless they're cranked up to insane levels, and even then it doesn't feel like too much.

    Crating them inside (or using a pen) can be a good idea, I had a german shepherd that would bark nonstop if she was stuck outside but was perfectly fine inside the house. We didn't crate her because she was well behaved but if you're scared of the dog damaging things in the home, get a pen or a crate.

    I've heard of collars that spray some sort of calming chemical in their face when they bark but I have a feeling they don't really work well.

    But you do need to figure out a way to stop them from barking, I worked emergency dispatch for years and I can assure you almost anywhere in the U.S. animal control can and will remove the dog from you if the problem isn't fixed. It takes a while, but it absolutely can happen if your neighbors keep complaining - and it's just rude to let your dog sit outside barking every day anyway.

  • conquerorw0rmconquerorw0rm Registered User new member
    9+ hours without human interaction is a long time for a dog, I can imagine they probably do bark a lot. I would definitely be worried about an annoyed neighbour calling animal control or taking it into his own hands. Have you thought about keeping them indoors (in a kennel or exercise pen), and then hiring a dog walker to come in halfway through the day to take them for a bit of a walk/play and feed them? I have an exercise pen set up in the house for my dog (6 month old, 20 pound shiba inu), and he's never had an accident in it, nor does he bark his head off while we're gone. It also keeps him safe from crazy people, thieves, and other wildlife.

  • mightyjongyomightyjongyo Sour Crrm East Bay, CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    Okay, thank you for confirming that it can happen. We may get a pet door sliding glass door insert thing and put some blankets inside so they can go in and out, although I am a little worried about furniture chewing. Setting up a pen may be a good alternative here, thank you.

    Has anyone ever used a sliding glass door pet door insert? I am a little concerned about making it easier for someone to break in, but as some people say, if someone wants to break into a home there isn't much stopping them.

    I have no desire to be 'that one neighbor' despite how I may sound so I will look into the options everyone has presented (including bark collars, but only as an extreme last resort).

    I just want to say thanks again for helping me realize that I am part of the problem. (Seriously, thanks. A neutral third party helps a lot).

  • QuidQuid Definitely not a banana Registered User regular
    If you go the dog door route if you're concerned about them chewing on furniture it's be possible to set up a pen like this one with the gate against the door or even with just one side open against it.

    Of course it could all be for naught as they might bark anyway from boredom/loneliness.

  • ihmmyihmmy Registered User regular
    They are small dogs with small bladders, I don't think they can handle 9+ hours inside without incident :( . How big are your dogs? Is there any issue with there not being enough space in the crate for them to move around during the day?

    My dogs are a combined 14lbs, so tiny. They are kenneled for about 8 hours, as I leave later and my partner gets home earlier. In the kennels, they are much less likely to mess, because it's their home (they do however have to learn to like their kennels before they get crated all day, or they see it as punishment). The main thing is to find a kennel that is an appropriate size, which a pet store person can help you with. Lately we've been kenneling the dogs together in our one larger kennel (we got it for the giant cat) and they seem to prefer that, but one of them is a bit of a cry-baby when she's alone.

    We are looking at moving to a larger city which means longer commute times, and longer for the dogs to be kenneled. Given that, I will be looking into getting a dog-walker to come and take them for a short walk so they could relieve themselves during the day.

  • MelinoeMelinoe Registered User regular
    There are also bark collars that will spray something similar to lemon juice at them which isn't harmful but some dogs hate it and it encourages them to stop. From what I've read it's sort of hit or miss on whether or not it works but it's probably worth looking into.

  • flowerhoneyflowerhoney Registered User regular
    My family has a Yorkie and he's about 12 lbs (a little on the tubby side), we keep inside when we're not home. Now granted, our dog is a bit of a homebody, but what I'm saying is that small dogs can be home while you're at work and hold it in. Usually one of my parents comes home during the day since yeah, its really sad for a dog to be alone all day and that's the unfortunate reality of most working people owning a dog.

    You could try having the dogs inside during the day and ask the neighbor if that helped. If it didn't, then there are obviously other dogs out there and yours could be in the clear!

  • KarrmerKarrmer Registered User regular
    edited July 2013
    If the dogs are that small, just set up a pen. I use this pen for my 40 lb Australian Shepherd when we go out and don't want him messing with things:

    http://www.amazon.com/IRIS-Indoor-Outdoor-Plastic-Panels/dp/B000FS4OYA/ref=sr_1_1?s=pet-supplies&ie=UTF8&qid=1373231248&sr=1-1&keywords=iris+8+panel

    It's surprisingly good size and you can take out or add panels if you want. You could just buy two of them (if you wanted) and make some huge 16 panel monstrosity. If you set it up so that they were on tile or hardwood (as we do) you can easily clean up any messes if they have an accident, too, but most adult dogs can easily hold their bladder for 10+ hours, not that it's extremely comfortable.

    Great example of how the pen can be set up:

    61x7xHFx9mL.jpg

    Karrmer on
  • ShadowfireShadowfire Vermont, in the middle of nowhereRegistered User regular
    They are small dogs with small bladders, I don't think they can handle 9+ hours inside without incident :( . How big are your dogs? Is there any issue with there not being enough space in the crate for them to move around during the day?

    We have a chihuahua with a small crate (he is a big chihuahua at 10 pounds, but still a small dog), and there is enough room for him to walk a small circle and lay down. That's all they need. Once the dog is crate trained, they will usually just go in and lay down, stretching as they need to. 8-9 hours is no big deal, and because they lie in the crate, they won't go to the bathroom in it (they don't pee where they sleep).

    Really, there is no harm in leaving your dog indoors during the work day, and loads of harm that can occur by leaving him outdoors, particularly thanks to angry neighbors, sun exposure, and other animals.

    WiiU: Windrunner ; Guild Wars 2: Shadowfire.3940 ; PSN: Bradcopter
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    Okay, thank you for confirming that it can happen. We may get a pet door sliding glass door insert thing and put some blankets inside so they can go in and out, although I am a little worried about furniture chewing. Setting up a pen may be a good alternative here, thank you.

    Has anyone ever used a sliding glass door pet door insert? I am a little concerned about making it easier for someone to break in, but as some people say, if someone wants to break into a home there isn't much stopping them.

    I have no desire to be 'that one neighbor' despite how I may sound so I will look into the options everyone has presented (including bark collars, but only as an extreme last resort).

    I just want to say thanks again for helping me realize that I am part of the problem. (Seriously, thanks. A neutral third party helps a lot).

    As someone mentioned earlier, do you have someone you know in the area that can walk your dog? If not, look to see if there are any professional walkers in your area. It's a small extra cost usually, and it keeps them out of trouble while you're not at home. :)

    With Love and Courage
  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    I have a 15lb corgi (she's a runt, literally), who is crate trained and the longest we've left her in her crate was 14 hours. That's not ideal, and it's very rare, but occasionally traffic or train congestion will put us late on already long days. In general, she's in her crate from 8:30 until 6pm, so 8.5 hours, but sometimes she's in there up to 10-11 hours and she's never had an accident. Small dogs may have small bladders but they also have smaller stomachs and will typically drink appropriately. We also only have "long days" when she's not otherwise dehydrated, so on these hot summer days where she gets a walk in the morning, we try to stick to the 8-9 hours.

    My understanding is that dogs don't feel their urges the same as people. They still have to go, sure, but they can be trained when and where to use the bathroom. My dog knows the command "go potty" which, if she has to go, encourages her to find some grass or dirt and do just that. Otherwise she thinks she's going on a walk or is just outside having fun, and MAY pee or poop, but the command tells her it's time. It's a very useful command!

    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    Okay, thank you for confirming that it can happen. We may get a pet door sliding glass door insert thing and put some blankets inside so they can go in and out, although I am a little worried about furniture chewing. Setting up a pen may be a good alternative here, thank you.

    Has anyone ever used a sliding glass door pet door insert? I am a little concerned about making it easier for someone to break in, but as some people say, if someone wants to break into a home there isn't much stopping them.

    I have no desire to be 'that one neighbor' despite how I may sound so I will look into the options everyone has presented (including bark collars, but only as an extreme last resort).

    I just want to say thanks again for helping me realize that I am part of the problem. (Seriously, thanks. A neutral third party helps a lot).

    Meanwhile it might not be a bad idea at all to go and talk to the neighbour who came round, say sorry for being rude to him, and tell him that you're fixing the problem.

  • mightyjongyomightyjongyo Sour Crrm East Bay, CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    My dogs can pee on command as well, it made things a loteasier when i was living in a state with snow, haha.

    I'm not sure I'm okay with confining my dogs to a crate for 9 hours, but I'll try it.
    V1m wrote: »

    Meanwhile it might not be a bad idea at all to go and talk to the neighbour who came round, say sorry for being rude to him, and tell him that you're fixing the problem.

    I do plan on doing this, thank you though.

  • PantshandshakePantshandshake Registered User regular
    My wife and I have 5 dogs, of varying sizes/breeds. I'll echo the other folk who said it: A dog crate need only be big enough for the dog to lay down, get up, and turn around. Any bigger, and they'll use it as a bathroom.

    That being said, if you go the crate route, most of them come with a divider to size it according to the dog. Also, get the kind with the plastic tray in the bottom that slides out, it's much easier to clean.

    For crate training, I recommend feeding them in the crate, and cookies. Lots of cookies. Go in the crate, get a cookie.

    In terms of time in the crates, my dogs are in there when we aren't home. If that works out to more than 7 or 8 hours, we generally have someone come by (mother in law, usually) to let them out for a bit.

    It might be hard now, but realize that when your dogs are out in the yard, they aren't running, jumping, playing, and being the happiest dogs ever the whole time, and crating them is going to remove that joy from their lives. I'd put money on most of the time they spend in the yard being laying in the shade and taking a nap.

  • flowerhoneyflowerhoney Registered User regular
    Your dogs don't have to be in a crate! They can be inside and hold their bladder just fine, or if you don't want them roaming around the house there's the pen suggestion (which karrmer gave a very cute demo of)

    Just saying there are lots of options, and you can decide which one works best for your dogs

  • zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    So, it sounds like the issue with the neighbors has been covered, but as other people have said, depending on where you live - local ordinances and HOA covenant, it's possible your neighbor or neighbors would have some recourse. Usually it's some sort of warning / small fine, but there is the possibility that animal control could take the dogs if they evaluate the situation as dangerous (too hot, insufficient water, etc).

    Bark collars tend to work relatively well, and they aren't necessarily painful. Same thing with the collars that spray water / lemon juice / etc on the dog. It's annoying to the dog, but nothing dangerous or something most people would consider cruel. Those will usually work fairly well.

    It's possible that - even if you can't bring the dogs inside - confining them to a smaller area of your backyard (say, 100 square feet of lawn + porch / patio) would give them someone to relieve themselves, but help keep them quiet. If they can't get to the perimeter, or if you can put up some sort of screen so they can't see people / cars going by, that may keep them quiet or quieter.

    Nine hours is a long time, but not incredibly long for a dog to be left home alone as long as you are letting them out before you leave. Most dogs will be able to hold it - there may be occasional accidents though, so I'd recommend trying to confine your pet to an area with tile or linoleum floors that will be easy to clean. Putting a blanket or towel down for them to lay on, or even better putting their crate in the gated / closed in area will give them somewhere to sleep without having to lay on cold or hard tile.

    Another option is simply crating the dogs. Again, as long as the dogs are getting out and going to the bathroom before you crate them, they should be fine for nine hours. Most dogs are fine with being crated - it's their home and a secure place for them to stay.

    You could also try a doggie-door (there are locking ones that use a collar transmitter) so they can go in and out, but it's possible they will still go out and bark and bother your neighbor.

    There may be some dog-walking service near you, or if you know someone who can stop by in the middle of the day and let them out, that's another option. Hell, maybe if one of your neighbors is retired and you trust them, they would be willing to let out / walk your dog for you. They may want a few bucks a week, but if it works best, you can try it.

    It's ok to get upset when someone comments on your pets / kids, but I'd definitely recommend talking to your neighbor next time you see them and apologizing and let them know you understand their concerns and are looking at ways to keep the barking down.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    By the way, if you're only away from the house ~8-9 hours a day, you can leave them inside.

    I think that'd solve your problem all around. I'd make amends with your neighbor too. Tell him you were a bit angry that day and let it get the better of you and are going to do your best to keep them inside.

    Good neighbors are awesome.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • mightyjongyomightyjongyo Sour Crrm East Bay, CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    I think my long-term plan will be to close off our patio area and plant some grass in a planter box or something, and put some thick screen or something so that they can't see outside. They do already have a kennel and water bowl outside where they can lay down. This should be able to keep them quiet or at least less able to respond to things and give them enough space for me to feel comfortable and not worry about accidents.

    In the meanwhile I will train them for crating and/or indoor pen area (and yes, apologize to the neighbor).

    Thanks again, you folks were all very helpful. I think I have what I need so this thread can be closed.

  • Gilbert0Gilbert0 North of SeattleRegistered User regular
    One more Pro for crating. When we're home, the crate door is left open. We only leave our dog in there for long outings. During the day / night, our dog WANTS to go to sleep in the crate. It's their space, their den. They may end up liking it. We say "go to bed" and she'll go sleep in there.

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    When our dog was younger we used a sliding glass door insert. Worked fine, just get a broom handle to stick in the door to bar it from sliding. The way our house was set up we were able to gate off the kitchen (with patio door) from the rest of the house. We did that for over a year until we were confident there would be no surprises waiting for us. We couldn't crate our dog, and this worked out fine

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