You’re enjoying a peaceful evening at home then all of the sudden, you hear it again—your neighbor’s loud dog won’t stop yapping. Sure, dogs naturally need to bark every now and then, but if Fido is getting in the way of your daily life, you need to do something.
Before you take action, make a log of when the noisy dog is being disruptive, says Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert and founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. Record the dates and times that the barking occurs to figure out any patterns. “They should observe carefully and get their facts straight,” says Schweitzer, who is a dog owner. “Make sure it’s clear in their mind objectively: When is this really happening?” You might notice the howling only happens when the owners are at work, or during thunderstorms and fireworks.
After two to three weeks of observing, approach your neighbors with the facts. Wait for a time when the woofing is over. “Since you’re trying to maintain a good relationship, you can’t go stomping down when you’re angry and frustrated,” says Schweitzer. Plus, your neighbors might not even realize the barks are a problem, especially if the worst yelping happens when they’re gone.
Politely explain the times when the barking gets bad (while avoiding these phrases that make arguments worse), then suggest a solution. “You can sit and complain all day, but that will go nowhere,” says Schweitzer. Ask if the puppy can stay inside during storms, or recommend a dog training class or no-bark collar. Be open to compromise because the owners might have other ideas about how to handle the howling.
Despite any gripes you might have with the dog’s noisy barks, befriending the pooch could help you gain some peace and quiet. Have your neighbors introduce you to their pup, and ask permission to give it a treat. “If they become more comfortable in your presence, they’re less likely to bark when they see you or when they’re in the backyard,” says Schweitzer. You might be able to start using commands like “quiet” once the dog trusts you.
Whatever you do, don’t gossip with your other neighbors about the problem puppy or start a petition to get the dog to quiet down. “Those are very threatening and intimidating,” says Schweitzer. “That’s when things escalate.” If weeks go by and you still aren’t seeing a difference, follow up with a note. Using diplomatic language, say you hope finding a solution is going smoothly, and offer help if needed. Tie a dog treat on the note to build trust with your neighbors, and make a photocopy before dropping it off. That way, you’ll have documentation that you’ve discussed it before and followed up politely if you need to bring in a third party, says Schweitzer.
From there, most people will probably get serious about solving the problem—after all, no one wants to be the bad neighbor. But if the owners are still ignoring your requests, suggest they attend mediation with you, says Schweitzer. As a last resort, look into your homeowner or neighborhood association’s policies. After you follow its procedures, your neighbors will probably receive a letter about the noise complaints.
If even a letter doesn’t put a stop to the barking, there’s a chance the owners are mistreating their dog. “Most people don’t want to be in that kind of situation with their dog or neighbors,” says Schweitzer. “You don’t want an unhappy dog barking like that.” Contact animal control to investigate the situation and get the pooch a new home if necessary.