When your apartment is separated from your neighbors’ by nothing more than a thin wall, it’s inevitable that you hear what’s happening on the other side. You hear their music, their fights, and their routine comings and goings. But most of the time, you can expect things to be quiet … unless your neighbor has a dog that won’t stop barking. When dog barking doesn’t stop, it can really make life in your apartment miserable. Even worse is a dog that barks throughout the night, causing you to lose sleep and be less productive at work. So what can you do to stop your neighbor’s barking dog?
Assess the situation
All dogs bark sometimes. If dogs are allowed in the apartment complex, occasional noise is something you’ll just have to put up with. The problem starts when the noise becomes excessive. Before you make a complaint to your neighbor or landlord, try to figure out how often the dog barks and what time of day it tends to happen. Does the dog bark during the day while your neighbor is out of the apartment? When people walk by the apartment complex? When someone knocks at the door? Dogs bark for different reasons. If you know why and when the dog barks, you and your neighbor may have an easier time figuring out how to solve the problem.
Why is the dog barking?
Dogs have a natural instinct to warn others about intruders. A dog that barks when someone knocks at the door may be acting on this protective instinct. In a city where people, cars, and other animals walk by the building all the time, most dogs become desensitized to the constant stimulus. However, dogs that are bored, under-exercised, neglected, or poorly trained may respond to anything that passes by the window and every sound in the hallway, resulting in incessant barking. Other dogs bark out of boredom or to get attention from their owners. Dogs also bark when they are excited and happy, like when their owners return home. However, this “happy barking” shouldn’t cause noise that never stops and keeps you up at night. Incessant barking is most likely the sign of a problem relating to a lack of training or the owner’s lack of attention to his dog.
Talk to the neighbor first
While it might be tempting to lodge a complaint with the landlord or management company, you can avoid dirty looks in the hallway and serious problems from your neighbors with noisy pets by approaching them first and explaining the problem. If they work long hours and are often away from home, they may not even be aware of the severity of the problem.
If you suspect the dog simply needs more attention or more exercise, make some concrete suggestions about ways your neighbors can address the problem. Let them know about a dog owners’ group in the local park or offer the number of the dog walker your friends use. Do some research about products designed to stop dog barking, such as collars that use citronella or products that emit an unpleasant ultrasonic noise that only the dog can hear when it barks. Ask your friends about products or ideas they have tried and pass on some of the more helpful tips to your neighbors. If your neighbors feel that you are willing to work with them to solve the barking dog problem, they may be more receptive to your suggestions and motivated to keep your relationship a pleasant one.
You may have heard about other products such as shock collars or “debarking” surgery that limits the volume of a dog’s bark. These painful options can threaten the dog’s health. Caring pet owners will not and should not consider these options. Your conversation will go better if you don’t even mention these options.
Finally, make sure that you have remedied any offending noises of your own before you confront your pet-owning neighbors. Your complaints won’t be as effective if you’re guilty of throwing late night parties, entertaining loud guests, or playing music late into the night. And if you have a newborn, all bets are off.
When your neighbor isn’t so receptive
Maybe you’ve already spoken to your neighbors but they reacted defensively. Maybe they promised to take the dog out more often, but the animal is still sitting home alone all the time. It’s time to get other people involved. Undoubtedly your other neighbors are annoyed too. Approach them and write a group letter or pay a group visit to the offending apartment. Let your neighbor with the noisy pet know that you intend to complain to the landlord if he or she doesn’t take concrete steps to resolve the problem. Make your expectations clear (hiring a dog walker, taking the dog out when it barks) and promise a followup. When this has failed, it’s time to go to the landlord. Complaints from multiple tenants could result in the owner being asked to move out or find another home for the dog, so be certain you’ve exhausted your other options before making the call. Take a look at your lease, which might include a clause that outlines a reasonable expectation on your part for “peace and quiet” or something to this end. You can argue (and rightfully so) that a dog that barks incessantly is a clear violation of your lease. With other neighbors on your side, you shouldn’t have much trouble convincing your landlord to take action.
Have you experienced this problem first-hand? Were you able to resolve it? Share your suggestions with other readers in our comments section!