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The Barking Dog Next Door


This is a legal reference question that comes up again and again and again and …..

What can I do about my neighbor’s barking dog?

It depends, of course, but don’t go crazy. There are usually ways to deal with the problem, although it takes tact, persistence, more tact, creativity, collaboration, and sheer, uh, doggedness.

Remember, a constantly barking dog is not a happy dog and you are likely doing a good deed, at least for the dog, and even sometimes for the owner.

Also, if the dog is driving you crazy, it’s likely driving other neighbors crazy, too. So be dogged, but positive, helpful, and in short, a good neighbor.

Sometimes it takes a village to quell a dog: I’ve known of situations where the owner was just overwhelmed. Neighbors came to the rescue by offering lunchtime or after-school dog walks.

But not all situations are that simple and convivial, so lets look at other options:

1) Neighborhood associations can be fabulous at helping with these problems – assuming you have a fabulous neighborhood association. (Some of us are lucky that way.) If you have one, call them.

2) Local law: You may live in a place where there are laws about barking dogs (and crowing roosters, peacocks, etc.). Call your local government information line to find out who or what office handles noise, animal, or related nuisance complaints.

Tip: If you’re at the end of your rope, take a deep breath. Good manners will usually help your cause. If you can’t figure out who to call, and don’t waste your valuable time wandering around websites if you’re just steaming. Call your Mayor, City Administrator, or City Commissioner and ask directly.

3) Animal Law: Sometimes a barking dog is a sign of animal neglect or related problems. Even if your local elected officials don’t know what to do, or don’t care, your pet-centric community associations may know exactly what you can and can’t do. Start calling around for referrals: vets offices, animal shelters, animal law specialists, and others may be able to refer you.

4) I’m a librarian so of course will recommend books, which you can find at the usual places (libraries and bookstores):

Both of these are from Nolo Press:

a) “Every Dog’s Legal Guide: A Must-Have Book for Your Owner,” by Mary Randolph, J.D., (type dog law into the Nolo Press search box and get lots more than just a book!):

b) “Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise,” by Attorney Cora Jordan (type neighbor law into the Nolo Press search box and get lots more than just a book!):

Previous OLR blog posts on dog law.

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