Have You Ever Complained About a Neighbor’s Barking Dog?

A few years ago, I was the one getting complaints about my dog, so I try to hold my tongue now when someone's dog is driving me crazy.
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When I came down with a horrific cold recently, I found myself clinging to the couch and willing the German Shepherd who lives above me to stop barking. The dog was clearly home alone and anxious.

I turned the TV on, but it was as if the program I was watching had been muted. All I could hear was barking. Next, I listened to some ambient noise of waves crashing as I tried to rest and let my cold meds kick in. That didn’t do the trick either.

Getting a grip

Admittedly, I was already in a bad mood, because when I get sick, I feel like I am on an island alone without chicken soup and hugs. However, on this recent afternoon, my neighbor’s dog’s incessant barking and howling was about to push me over the edge into a canyon of complaint. Before my nasal congestion and impatience led me to pick up the phone to voice a grievance to the landlord, I got a grip on myself.

Two years ago, I was the one fielding complaints about my dog, Toby, barking in our small, fourth-floor walk-up apartment in New York City.

Bella and DiDi (my fur sisters) don’t like when my parents or guests leave the house, but they don’t have serious separation anxiety. The most irreverent thing that happens when the Bella and DiDi are left at home is DiDi spitting out the treat that my mom hands out to take her mind off the departure.

With Toby, it was a different story.

Dog parenting skills put to the test

In September of 2012, as I headed back to work after some time off to adopt Toby, I closed the door to a crying and howling furball. Soon, I learned that in order to calm Toby down when I left the house, tools such as a frozen Kong stuffed with goodies and relaxing music in the background were necessary.

Before walking to the subway, I would stand in the courtyard of my apartment building to monitor Toby’s noises. A lot of those mornings, tears would run down my face as I heard my dog calling out not to be left. The guilt and worry I felt consumed me.

So that my neighbors didn’t think I was an emotional basket case (even though I clearly was at that time), I would throw my sunglasses on to hide my tear-filled eyes. Even though I had sought the help of a respected trainer to get Toby’s barking under control, I felt completely alone standing outside willing Toby to settle down.

Madness randomly ensues

After a few weeks passed, I stopped crying and Toby barked a maximum of five minutes after I left. By November, we got to a point where he curled up on his bed waiting for the Kong as I was about to leave. Toby let out 30 seconds of barking after I closed the door and then was silent (I left a sound recorder, with my dog walker’s knowledge, to track his barking).

Of course, just as the dog had vastly improved on his anxiety-driven barking, a neighbor who had never said one word about Toby after living in the apartment across the hall from him for three months raised hell with building management about Toby and me.

It was ironic and maddening. This neighbor, who had not been in my apartment or met Toby, and didn’t know my name, spent weeks making my life a living hell. She threatened to call the ASPCA on me because Toby’s bark sounded so unhappy she claimed I wasn’t treating him humanely. Nothing makes a dog lover who treasures their dog full of rage like a false claim of inhumane treatment.

Then, I was accused of leaving a negative comment about her business via an online review service. I didn’t even know what she her profession was! Her accusation was completely ridiculous!

Next came the late-night knocking on my door, which of course Toby would bark at, as any dog who is not deaf would have. This was followed by a barrage of notes on my door and more complaints about the dog and me to building management. And on and on …

I felt like a prisoner in my own home and couldn’t understand why this woman was acting out now when Toby was barking less.

Standing by my dog

In dealing with my unhinged neighbor, nothing brought peace. Venting to my mom and friends helped a little, but I was still so bothered.

Then one day, my dog walker, who knew Toby almost as well as I did, told me to be firm. She charged me to stand up for myself and end this nonsense. Because she understood Toby and why dogs bark, she was able to connect with me in a way others couldn’t on this topic.

Finally, I sent the building owners the “Toby Tapes,” aka the recordings I made of his drastically reduced barking, and a firm note threatening legal action if this woman didn’t stop harassing me.

The madness stopped. Toby resumed his life as a happy and less anxious dog.

However, I had a new understanding of how the world is full of some good neighbors and some not so good ones who will make other people’s lives hell because they are unhappy.

So, on that recent afternoon when the dog above me was barking out of anxiety, I chose restraint. If the dog does continue to bark a lot, I vow to be a nicer and more understanding human than the one who caused me so much grief two years ago.

Let’s hear from you, readers. Do you have a dog whose barking bothers your neighbors? Or does a barking dog disturb your peace? How do you handle it?

Read more about dog barking:

About the author: Margot Ahlquist is a dog mom, Professional Life Coach and Creator of Paws to Talk where the motto is “Life Support For Dog Lovers.” She lives near Boston with her dogs Bella, DiDi and Toby. Margot recently released a product kit entitled Paws By Your Side which helps dog lovers cope with the loss of their dogs. Follow Margot’s blog and get more info on Paws to Talk’s services and products here.

30 thoughts on “Have You Ever Complained About a Neighbor’s Barking Dog?”

  1. Frustrated Homeowner

    Dear author, you identify as a dog mom and a life coach, but your post is just complaning about complaints. Quite ironic.

    You mention your own anxiety as a result of another person's dog barking, but you cannot seem to empathize with the person that voiced their concerns to you. Is it so hard for you to imagine that they, too, felt like a prisoner in their own home? Afterall, it takes time and effort to confront you. If they weren't disturbed, they wouldn't have bothered you in the first place.

    We get it – it is not convenient for dog owners to do something about their dogs' barking or bad habits. But that doesn't mean that it isn't inconviencing others that chose not to own a dog, much less an untrained one.

    To all the dog owners out there with untrained dogs, please take responsibility for your choices. Dogs are living creatures and should not be treated like a toy.

  2. You truly have no idea, do you?

    Dogs only bark if they’re allowed to bark, as in their owner does not correct the behavior. If that’s not what you believe then you’re being willfully ignorant of the facts. What’s ridiculous is that you don’t understand what you’re talking about, and then say others are intolerant because they don’t want to be barked at for hours.

    Put simply, YOU are the problem and part of the reason people are starting to turn against dog owners as a whole.

  3. What is wrong with you people? Dogs bark. They have always barked in neighborhoods. It’s part of the American dream. Bad neighbors are the ones who are completely intolerant and inflexible. You have no right to total quiet all the time. If you need total quiet move to the country. Dogs are animals. They bark. Get over it. This is ridiculous.

    1. As a dog owner I completely agree with the author. There are some neighbors who are just unhappy and not good people no matter what. I have a dog who only barks a few seconds if someone runs noisily across the corridor and I'm at home all day and a neighbor who has a problem with me for 2 years now has made complaints to animal services twice for excessive barking. He rarely barks. Smh.

  4. I agree, barking dog owners are the worst. And they always seem to feel more sorry for themselves than anyone else, including their dogs, in these situations. Totally self-centered and egotistic. Please, just don’t even get the dogs. They can’t really enjoy being owned by someone like you anyways. Pet rocks are probably more your speed.

  5. If you are allowing your dog to disturb the neighborhood, you are a sociopath and deserve the full weight of the law.

    Barking dog owners are low life’s, who choose to violate the peace and sanctity of other people’s homes.

    They choose to affect people’s ability to rest for work. Children’s ability to rest and study. You’ll even get a barking dog owner willingly allow their dog to prevent a baby from sleeping.

    Barking dog owners are a plague in society, and deserve to be dealt with and regarded as a disease.

  6. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much, but he barks A LOT… So, leaving home is always a challenge for us. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!

    1. Surely, you considered your neighbors before bombarding them with noise pollution?

      You didn’t? Well, you can’t complain if they bombard you with loud music. Best to sort it out, as a court case will be more expensive than your reluctance to pay for training.

  7. To the person saying that the lady should not live in an apartment complex that allows dogs, what if you live in a house? I don’t know of any dog free neighborhoods?! We have 3 dogs behind us who bark every time a leaf rustles or a squirrel jumps from a tree. One in particular is a hound dog and his bark is the most annoying. Years ago when the barking first started, i went round to the house to talk to them. I was extremely polite. They were ok about it and it got better for a while. Then it started up again. They probably got tired of having 3 big dogs in their house. Quite some time later I decided to call the non emergency police number. I explained to the animal control person that I just want them to understand that if I can hear them telling them to be quiet or bringing them inside I’ll be ok with it. Again, it got better for a while. But it started up again. I have called the police several times in them when the barking goes on for a while. The police are actually very sympathetic. I doubt they think I enjoy calling them. I absolutely don’t. I’m honestly so frustrated and fed up with it. My neighbor too. Then came the threatening letter from the dog neighbor telling me that they will start legal action against me if I don’t stop calling the police and wasting their time. I called the police and told them about this. The officer laughed and said they could bring a lawsuit if they liked but that I had every right to call about a noise violation and that they (the police) would decide if I was a nuisance. Strangely, the neighbor did not address the note to us or put their name or address on it. Which was interesting. Are they concerned about legal repercussions from me? I don’t believe anyone else got the letter but us. Don’t know how they knew it was us unless by somededuction. This letter said that they always tell their dogs to be quiet. Sorry, not so. I never hear them telling them to be quiet. I don’t want to start a war here but theyve really pissed me off with their nasty letter. If they made a modicum of effort to keep their dogs quiet or train them in some way, we wouldn’t be in this unpleasant situation. Now I’m considering our next move. I’ll be recording the dogs barking from now on so I have proof. Has anyone else had experience of a neighbor threatening them for callung the police on their dogs?

    1. So sorry you’re experiencing this! We suggest staying in touch with the police. This article on dog laws might help, too:
      https://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/dog-laws-to-know

    2. There is a bad neighbor in this story and it is NOT the one that complained about the incessantly barking dogs. Dog owners do not have some kind of inalienable right to inflict their dogs’ noise on others, though they seem to think they do have such a right. I live in an individual home in a development and 2 neighbors whose property touch mine like noisy dogs. They must, because they getting more when one set dies. These dogs are unsocialized, never walked, untrained; frankly, I can’t understand why these people keep dogs. The lady in the house behind mine does walk her dog. The neighbors next to me and those across the street never walk theirs. Never. I have complained directly and the answer was that there was nothing they could do. My husband does not want me to take complaining to another level. So, I can rarely enjoy my screened in porch. If you have a dog, it should not be your annoyed neighbors’ responsibility to find a way to tolerate YOUR dog’s annoying behavior. If your neighbors are complaining, You’re the bad neighbor. I’ve lived in my house for 42 years. I can’t make my husband move. I have 3 sets of bad neighbors.

    3. It’s disgusting to call the police because of a little barking. They have real problems to deal with. Maybe you should get a hobby.

  8. America has a dog problem. Here in Austin Tx it is out of control. You can’t go to someone’s house withou getting jumpped and slobbered on. I had one little dog jump up an give me an involontary french kiss. The next day I got a large cold sore in my mouth, talk about gross! I had a neighbor who got a boxer and didn’t train it. The dang thing goes nuts everytime they let it in the back yard causing other dogs in the hood to erupt. She tells me dogs are going to bark. What a mess. As the next ,more entitled, generation begins to move in and as dog ownership sky rockets I can see this becoming a big problem for many. Not to mention all the feces on the groupd. Sometimes I smell dog poo from my front yard. Dogs were mostly bread for work but hardly any of them do a job which just ends up causing problems.

  9. I think some people might be missing the point of the post. There’s no sense of entitlement on the blogger’s part that she should be permitted to have a dog who barks constantly. It IS the woman who has the problem, and there’s a few reasons.

    1. The woman chose to live in a building where dogs are allowed.

    2. The woman would knock on the door late at night when the dog was NOT barking, apparently to make the dog bark.

    3. It was made clear that the dog’s barking was drastically reduced, enough that his owner sent sound recording evidence to the landlord.

    At first the woman had a legit and reasonable reason for being annoyed with the dog’s excessive barking. She did not go to the neighbor first to express her concern, instead she played an unfriendly game of leap frog and escalated the matter. She did not give her neighbour or Toby a chance to deal with the issue.

    No one should have to live in an apartment with a lot of intrusive noise. But the thing is, our dog loving blogger here did remedy the situation. Seeing as how she didn’t indicate she was evicted I presume the landlord found the level of barking to be acceptable.

    Dogs bark to communicate, just like a baby cries to communicate. The kids in my apartment building make a lot more noise than my dog does. Some dogs are watch dogs simply due to their breed and will bark to alert owner of possible intrusion. The key is not to train a breed trait out of the dog, but to properly train the dog to stop barking on command. And in the case of owner absence our furry children can be trained to only bark a few times.

    Anyone who expects a dog to be completely silent has no logic or reasoning and is ignorant about dogs. The point is that if the barking isn’t excessive, then it’s fine. And if it’s not fine to someone they can move to a building that doesn’t accept dogs. A screaming baby or child can be just as annoying as a barking dog.

    So, barking is okay as long as it’s not prolonged and/or excessive. People should not be expected to love dogs but they can at least have the common decency to talk to a dog owner before reporting to landlord or making noise complaint with the city. I have to wonder if those people who sided with the unhinged neighbour have children in their building and how they deal with that noise.

    1. the problem is that after being tortured all day by a barking dog it’s pretty tough to react rationally, especially when the dogs owner invariable says “Dogs bark, that’s what they do” My answer to that is “Only if their owners are too stupid, ignorant, and lazy to bark train them”

      There is absolutely no comparison of children noise to dog noise, dogs are not children and they do not deserve the same consideration, period, no matter how silly their owners get about them.

      1. Yes! Barking dogs are torture. They were used to torture prisoners in Abu-Ghraib. There is only so much a human can take of this before they snap. I had a neighbor who would not control their barking dogs next door to me for about 5 years and my nerves are shot. Its at the point where I can tolerate very little barking before having to say something.

        I later had another neighbor with barking dogs for several years.

        Both times I talked to the neighbors about the barking as a first step. The first neighbors were very unreasonable and thought I was the problem.

        I contacted animal control who told me to keep a record of the barking and file a form with this record. However, it takes 3 neighbors to do the same before anything will be done. So I did this for years, filing the forms.

        It is so despairing when this goes on for years and you are helpless to do anything about it. You want to kill the dogs or yourself.

        1. A barking dog owner is a sociopath, if you complain to them they find a direction for their bullying behaviour.

          Always remain anonymous. Send a direct anonymous letter. Anonymously call the police.

          Make that barking dog owner live in the paranoia they deserve.

      2. And if dogs bark, people complain and take action. That’s what people do.

        As Im sure you’ll agree, we live in cities for people not dogs.

    2. I recently moved into a new home and found out that our neighbour left their dog out 24hrs 7 days a week… It barked continously during the evenings anywhere from 3 mins to 60mins with very short breaks in between. Recently had a barking session that went from 1035pm to 1121pm!! Driving us insane. How inconsiderate of the neighbours to allow this to occur multiple times a week. With absolutely no regards to their neighbours. We had address this to them ina friendly matter many times and 2 months went by with very little improvement. After an argument they keep their dog inside during the evenings when they are not at home. How hard was that? Until you’ve trained your dog to be an outside dog that doesn’t cause excessive noise pollution keep it inside.

  10. This was a helpful read as I’m going thru torment over this problem myself. I spent lots of time training my dogs and they have all been well behaved. A renter moved in below me and her dog has severe separation anxiety, isn’t socialized with other people or dogs. It’s six weeks in and I have nicely let her know that her dog howls, yelps, and barks for up to eight hours. How can you knowingly leave your dog like that for hours and hours? I can’t tell if she cares or just hopes I’ll quit letting her know. But now it’s gotten so bad that my sweet, well adjusted 9 year old dog is upset by it. When the howling can’t be drowned out, she sits and stares at me with her ears all the way back, softly whimpering, and she paces. I feel the same way! I work from home so I truly don’t know how to manage this, and Im frustrated that I’m made to be the bad guy. Is it cruel to leave a dog in distress like that? I want her to hire a professional to help that poor creature. I don’t want to leave my poor dog home alone listening to that.

  11. Agree with the others that the issue is your dog. Your neighbors have a right to quiet enjoyment. Having a dog in an apartment is a privelege that can be revoked if dog is a nuisance to others.

  12. Barking dogs are a big problem, especially when living within close quarters. Nearly all buildings have noise clauses that state that a pet cannot be a nuisance to others. It is the sole responsiblity of the offender (pet’s owner) to correct the situation. Period.

  13. Yeah, the woman is not the problem in this story, its your barking dog. If you live in close quarters like an apartment or condo, you have to take responsibility for your pets. As an individual on the autism spectrum dog barking and whining severely impacts my quality of life, as do all loud, repeated, sudden noises. I try to keep quiet and I expect my neighbors to do the same.

  14. Dog barking is extremely annoying and disturbing. People have the right to enjoy peace and quiet in their own home. I’ve always had dogs but have never allowed any uncontrolled barking.

  15. I just got a complaint about my dog not barking but whining. I don’t know what to do. I mean I don’t like it when I hear the upstairs neighbors when they talk loudly or throw parties. Also if my dog whines it’s only while I take the other one out. I mean I guess it’s a crappy situation for everyone. The thing that made me angry was that she only whines for like 10 minutes when she sees me out with my other dog. I don’t know how to get her to not have separation anxiety. Still if people want to complain about me instead of just talking to me like an adult I think I’m going to start complaining about their kids running around and the stomping of their feet. My dogs make no noise unless I let one of them out to pee. The neighbors on the other hand are really loud, they invite people over all the time and don’t have consideration when they’re throwing parties.

    1. Stop Barking Please

      You are making excuses for your dog instead of addressing the issue. People with children can stop the behavior by talking with their kids. The parties can be addressed by talking to the neighbors. But your dog lacks the ability to understand you talking to her, and if she is barking and whining then you and your dog are the problem and you need to address the problem and not point fingers and give whataboutisms.

  16. christine koelsch

    Dog owners need to take into consideration their neighbors when they live in “close quarters”. Sound travels and travels loudly. A barking dog to you may not be music to another. Especially when leaving a dog alone all day in a small condo with hundred something people who also live there. If that dog is barking it has an issue, separation anxiety or something like…and the owner never addresses the issue. This makes life intolerable for others. According to law, each individual has the right to quiet enjoyment of where they live and I mean inside. If the dog can be heard inside ones abode then there is something wrong. I have had animals my entire life, but would never let a pet interfere with another persons lifestyle. I guess some people just don’t consider their neighbors and feel everyone should love their dog. Unfortunately that’s not reality.

    1. Totally agree. My inconsiderate and irresponsible neighbours leave their dog outside all day and it barks on our property line which echoes into our house. We had an argument with them for them to do something about it. It’s terrible and so selfish of them to have allowed it for so long.

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