Skip to content

My neighbors keep bothering my dog. Carolyn Hax readers give advice.

We ask readers to channel their inner Carolyn Hax and answer this question. Some of the best answers are below.

Dear Caroline: My family lives at the end of a short cul-de-sac in a small neighborhood. There is rarely a reason for someone to walk past our house, which is a good thing because our dog can’t help but bark hysterically every time she sees a human who isn’t part of the family.

A new family moved into the neighborhood about a month ago. Every morning, after dropping off the kids on the school bus, parents walk all over the neighborhood, including our little cul-de-sac. The dog is inconsolable until we personally let her out to bark (we have an invisible fence so there is no danger of her getting hurt). She doesn’t calm down for long. This is annoying to us and our next door neighbors so I asked the walkers to cut our dead end out of their route. They said they understood but continued to walk around our house and pick on our dog. I know not everyone is an animal lover, so how can I convince them to leave our poor dog alone?

Anonymous: In short, you can’t. No matter how annoying it is to your dog, you have the right to stop by his house. You can’t change his behavior to protect your dog, but you can make changes to save him from this discomfort.

First, it seems that his walks are pretty predictable. Take your dog to a room without a view of the street or put him in a crate (if he is trained) and give him something to do. You can try a long-lasting chew like a bully stick or stuff a Kong toy with peanut butter, canned dog food, or anything else your dog finds delicious and freeze it overnight to last longer. You could give him his morning meal in a puzzle toy. You can also cover the front windows with blinds, curtains, or decorative film, allowing light in but blocking out the view. The key is to act before she sees or hears the neighbors. It will be much easier to proactively prevent these big feelings than to try to calm her down.

Another option is to hire a qualified dog trainer to work on your dog’s reactivity; this will be more work and expense than managing your environment to avoid the trigger, but it might provide a more durable solution.

Lastly, keep in mind that an invisible fence is not a fence. It’s just air with the threat of punishment. If the desire to chase away the neighbors ever overcomes her dog’s desire to avoid the commotion, she can and will run through that “fence.” This happens all the time to owners who were absolutely convinced her dog would never leave the yard.

Our wonderful and beloved dogs are not always as predictable as we think. Set her up for success by helping her avoid the trigger and don’t give her the chance to make a bad decision with the neighbors. And congratulations on having such incredible empathy for your dog – her barking is a sign of distress and it’s wonderful that you want to help her avoid those overwhelming feelings.

Anonymous: Animal behaviorist here. Consult a certified dog trainer for help in training your dog. By letting him out to bark, you are rewarding and reinforcing the barking. Here are some tips on how to find a good trainer. This problem can be solved with patience and knowledge. Good luck!

Anonymous: Oh my. You clearly sympathize with your dog and want to reduce his stress, which is understandable and admirable. What I find remarkable, however, is how quickly he points the finger at new neighbors for not changing their own actions, off their property! β€” to accommodate your pet, rather than you trying to train or help your pet overcome excessive barking at strangers.

If you try to look at it from their perspective, they’ve moved to a new neighborhood, and a month from now, one of their neighbors is berating them for taking a walk on public property in their own neighborhood. They are not trespassing on your property. They are not being aggressive. If your dog barks excessively and the next door neighbors are upset, then your pet is the cause of the problem, not the neighbors. You are the pet owner and are responsible for the actions of your pet. The new neighbors are not doing anything β€œto” their dog, contrary to their claim that they are not leaving their poor dog alone.

It was inappropriate for you to ask neighbors to avoid passing through your property. I also found it very revealing that you said there is no danger of “her” your dog getting hurt, but you didn’t mention if the neighbors might be in danger of getting hurt or if they are worried about her running by. invisible fence. Trying to reduce your pet’s anxiety and barking is an admirable goal, but you should consider taking responsibility for your dog’s behavior, rather than outsourcing that responsibility to new neighbors.

I recommend looking online for methods to help train and assist your pet to reduce anxiety and barking at strangers. Your behavior is, and was, your responsibility, and you may have let your concern for your emotional well-being overwhelm your empathy for others in your neighborhood. Just letting her out bark doesn’t sound like the end of the world, but it sounds like something could be done to train her.

Finally, you may want to apologize to your new neighbors for making the request in the first place, and even invite them to meet your dog. So to speak, you yourself were “barking” at the neighbors asking them to leave so as not to disturb your dog. I wish you every success in helping your dog manage his stress, and I hope that he can find a way to live in harmony with his next door neighbors and new neighbors.

Each week, we ask readers to answer a question sent to Carolyn Hax’s live chat or email. Read last week’s installment here. New questions are usually posted on Fridays, with a Monday deadline for submissions. Responses are anonymous unless you choose to identify yourself and are edited for length and clarity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.