Friday, September 2, 2011

Dogs Barking

I don't want to be seen as anti-dog.

However, we have neighbors down the street who this spring, apparently procured two beagles.  They already had a small white fluffy dog (and I apologize, but I can't tell the under twenty pound, ungroomed, fluffy white dog category apart; bichon frise?  Maltese), and the small fluffy white dog has a very peculiar bark, that sounds like the signature scream of women in horror movies.  The beagles, well, howl and bark like hounds in those movies where they chase escaped prisoners.

I've become a connoisseur of these neighbor dog barks because they do it all. The. Time.  When cars drive past.  When pedestrians pass.  When other dogs pass.  When the wind blows.  These dogs, most often the beagles but sometimes all three, are apparently kept on said neighbor's back deck all day.  By "down the street", I in fact mean this house is down the street, make a right, and they're partway up that subsequent block.  There's some distance here.  But beagle barks carry.

Bad owners make bad dogs.  I really can't emphasize this enough.  Dogs bark for any number of reasons, as I discussed in my book review of Barking, by Kim Campbell Thornton.  Since that post, Elka has in fact developed an unfortunate occasional barking problem, but she does tend to this time of year, when the college student neighbors move into the various houses around us.  Summer is very quiet; fall is not.  A single bark to alert is fine; barking at length when I'm in the bathroom and Jim is sleeping, say, is not.  And hard to redirect, I assure you.  It began a few weeks ago, and has already begun to taper off, though perhaps not quite to my taste.  But, some of that blame is mine, because sometimes I don't want to get up the eighth time to look out the front door at whatever has alerted my Doberman dear, to turn to her and say "I see, thank you.  Enough."  and be done with it.  Sometimes I just tell her to go lay down, which does not make her feel as reassured.

Elka, however, is never attended in our back yard.  She is also never permitted to bark at length.  There is, in fact, part of my city code that addresses the behavior of the neighborly beagles:
It shall be unlawful for any owner of any dog to permit or allow such dog, in the City, to engage in habitual and/or continuous howling, barking or crying for an unreasonable length of time to the annoyance of person other than the owner.
I'm especially amused by the "annoyance of person other than the owner." part.  So, there's my problem. I don't actually want to call the police on my neighbors, but it maddens me that they leave their dogs out all day to behave like this, and can't be bothered to give them other means of entertainment.  Maybe that's unfair; I've never approached the deck to see if there's actually a bevy of toys that the dogs ignore in preference of barking.  And it's strange to complain about dogs when you're a dog owner, but I'm not really complaining about the dogs, who I feel sorry for.  They must be lonely, even though there are a few of them, and they must be bored out of their skulls.

I'd consider talking to the neighbor, but the little white dog rushed snarling at Elka the last time we graced the sidewalk in front of their house, and the woman from the house who retrieved said little white dog wasn't the slightest bit apologetic, but rather seemed put out that she had to come get her dog.   During the encounter, I kept myself between Elka and the small dog, because I would prefer my dog not have to defend herself and then get blamed because she's a Big Vicious Doberman.  We in fact walk a different way now, because I don't want to deal with it.


  1. Funny, I have a small white dog (shih-tzu x bichon) upstairs that barks at EVERYTHING.

    I spoke to the neighbors and nothing was done about it. So I had to go to the landlord. The dog still barks, so this month I'Ve started a log of when the dog starts barking, when it stops and what it was barking at. (It's already over a page long)

    You could do the same, but first maybe write an anonyomous note and mail it to them or place it in their post box.

    Something like "Dear Neighbor, I am unaware if you realize, but your dogs bark all day long while outside. Could you please keep them indoors to keep the barking from beconing a nusance? Thanks very much, Concerned neighbor."

    Simple and make a copy to keep for your records. This way if they ignore it, you have they copy of the letter you mailed as well as a log of how often the dogs were barking.

    It's my plan anyway since the upstairs dog contonually wakes up my son while he's napping. (he barks right above his room)
    Kyuss meanwhile barks maybe once a week when someone knocks at the door >_>

    Good luck!

  2. Yeah, that kind of thing (documenting) makes a lot of sense. Thankfully, the time I work takes up a chunk of their "barking time" as well, so I'd need a few days in a row to appropriately track it. That kind of note could do the trick, if the neighbors are reasonable.

    You definitely have it worse than me, if it's directly upstairs from you! I wish you the best of luck in figuring it out, as well.

  3. I have three dogs and all are barkers. We bring them in when they do it for more than a few seconds, but our subdivision constantly has someone out walking with a dog. Worse yet, the little boys (and some grown men) have taken to teasing the dogs to make them bark more.

    I have no easy solution. The miniature pinscher has a zap collar due to over aggressive behavior and we use it to help with the barking. If I put a bark collar on my Vizsla, he would be so traumatized he'd never go out. The beagle loves to be outside and is the most likely to stop because he doesn't want to come in.

    My dogs are not the only ones barking - other neighbors dogs do it too and just as frequently.

    I have no easy solution to the problem. It's great to complain about it, although if my neighbors want to complain about noise, we can also discuss little boys out there screaming for no reason and radios blasting when cars are being washed.

    Sorry to vent here. I've been enjoying your blog and unfortunely chose this as the first time I've written.


  4. Thanks for coming by, Nancy!

    I don't mind the vent; it's good to have a story from the other side of the issue. I imagine it can be very frustrating to you, both because of complaints and because, well, dogs bark.

    I write the blog because I'm crazy about my dog; other people passionate about their dogs are totally welcome!

  5. Thank Jen! Actually, our neighbors have not complained. It's a non-event it seems - the dogs get ignored by everyone who is out. One neighbor a few streets over complained in general about dogs barking, but I think there is one at their end who is out constantly barking. It was not directed at me in particular.

    However, over the weekend, I did catch our neighbor (the Dad no less) as he got out of his car and woofed at my beagle who had been quiet until then. I was on the deck and yelled at the beagle; my neighbor scurried inside. I was pretty peeved. My dog was doing fine until that happened.

  6. Your neighbor barked at your dog? Ugh, how frustrating! I would've been pretty peeved myself.

    Other than that, it's good that nobody's complained. It's a tough situation, both from the barker's and the listener's perspectives. Some dogs just bark. Some dogs are bored and their owners don't know how to deal with it.

    I mentioned our local barkers to my fiance the other day, and he said he didn't want to call anybody about it. He doesn't want the dogs to be euthanized because of the owners not wanting to deal with official complaints; I hadn't even thought of that. An extreme example, yes, but I'd rather hear barking than have that on my conscience.