Unfortunately, when it comes to neighbors and barking dog issues, there’s no strict “manual” on how to successfully handle this kind of scenario. However, there are good guidelines that solve some common hangups that threaten to drive dog barking situations off the rails. Lots of times, having the right strategy helps annoyed and sleep deprived neighbors to approach the issue successfully.
The Petitioning Stage
If you are really having a problem with the neighbor’s loud dog, there’s a good chance that there are more neighbors who feel the same way that you do. Unless you’re out in the wilderness somewhere, many households have to share the same “audio community” and what gets on your nerves is probably getting on theirs as well.
There is a double (or even triple) benefit to this stage of approaching a dog barking situation. First, going around to neighbors allows you a good chance to vent. Second, you may get more ideas from other locals about how to handle the situation. Third, talking to other neighbors builds a consensus—this is often critical in addressing a noise violation or other problem. It shows that a significant part of the community is together on an issue, in this case, the loud barking of a local dog. Get documentation of common complaints through a paper petition, and you’ll have a better position when it’s time to address the problem.
Confront the Dog Owners
This is a step where a lot of people get tripped up. It can be intimidating to approach your neighbor’s door in order to talk about the barking dog situation. However, this is not the only way to go about confronting dog owners who may have an evident disregard for your comfort and your ability to enjoy peace and quiet in your home. A written letter is usually a completely acceptable form of communication. A personal letter warns your neighbors that unless action is taken, local authorities could get involved. This may or may not fix the situation on its own, but it helps to set the stage for an eventual resolution.
Dog Barking: Looking at Local Government
The fact is that in most American communities, there are specific boards of public officials who are set up to help address noise issues in a neighborhood. This might be the zoning board, the town or city commission, or some other similar group. Go to your municipal building and look up the local law, called an ordinance, that deals with barking dog situations. Specific laws are on the books to protect peace and quiet in a community. Sometimes, the laws may have to go under review to make your neighborhood a quieter place. Here, your petition can come in handy if you attend and speak up at a local government public meeting.
If you have looked into local law, notified your neighbors, and seen that the problem is still occurring, it’s time to call the local police department. Part of what police do is mediate local noise concerns according to local laws. They do this in order to save neighbors from confrontations that can easily escalate into violence. Don’t think of it as abdicating responsibility, think of it as using your public services that you pay for as a taxpayer. Local police will enforce local ordinances and help everybody get a decent night’s sleep.