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Page Seven of a seven-page article:
How to persuade your neighbors to quiet their chronically barking dogs

The Timing, Frequency, and Duration of Your Visits

Beyond a doubt, you have a right to call on your neighbor in an attempt to arrange to use your home. But it's a matter of opinion as to how often you have a right to do it.

If the dog barks every day then I call on the owner a couple times each week. If the owner is gone during the day, then, I call on him in the evening, after dinner.

If the dog barks during sleeping hours, I go over and discuss the matter with the dog owner as often as I can stand doing it. If the dog barks at two in the morning I go over and have a talk with the neighbor at 2:10. Amazingly, if you pay a visit during the wee hours of the morning you will often find that while everyone else in the neighborhood is wide awake, thanks to the barking of his dog, the dog owner is sound asleep. But of course, after your visit the dog owner joins the long list of those who can't get back to sleep, and a ludicrous comic twist is added as he grumbles that your complaining about his dog keeping you awake all night is making it difficult for him to sleep.

The Down Side of the Plan

I want to make clear that the plan I've just laid out for bringing around pathological dog owners is not an easy way to go. Nor is it something that you will want to do if there is any way you can avoid it. However, unfortunately, in many parts of the world, people have been saddled with "anti-barking" laws that are all but unenforceable.

If that's the case where you live, and it very likely is, then, you must either go with the plan as outlined, or you must accept the abuse and the constant disruption of you life. However, Mixon's plan is something you turn to only because the law provides you with no more genteel alternative. It's not something you would want to do if you had any real choice, because you most certainly will not enjoy the experience.

Remember that there are some people who live for conflict. They crave confrontation and they love to upset those around them. Such people intentionally foster antagonisms and embrace conflict as a way of life and are forever involved in some sort of emotionally charged dispute with one person or another. Such people will often keep barking dogs and/or dogs that are dangerously aggressive as a means of drawing those around them into participating in the conflict they crave. So that barking noise coming from the other side of the fence might actually be the sound of your pugnacious neighbor trolling for conflict and, of course, when you go over and press him to correct the problem, you may be playing right into his hands.

The process of reaching an accommodation with such people is always an upsetting ordeal. Maybe not as upsetting as living forever under the tyranny of a constantly barking dog, but upsetting enough for you and all who care about you.

Total Nut Jobs

People who keep barking dogs tend to be disturbed -- sometimes deeply disturbed. When you begin pushing the buttons of that kind of person, you never know what will happen.

A 21-year-old Houston man was arrested for taking seven people hostage and torturing them with red-hot forks, electrical cords and scalding grease in a dispute over his dogs. In Marin County, just down the road from me, a man was arrested after he attempted to hire a neighborhood teenager to burn down the home of one of the people who complained about his dog. I had similar neighbors in the county of Sonoma. They responded to telephone complaints about their dogs by immediately stepping outside and letting loose a burst of gunfire.

Nut jobs. There are a lot of 'em out there. People who abuse animals are very strongly inclined toward violent behavior, and folks get killed in disputes over dogs every day. Those are good things to keep in mind as you approach the owner of a barking dog.

Having seen my share of canine-owning nut jobs, I can tell you there are a few key phrases you need to listen for. In my experience, if any of the following occur it likely means that you are dealing with a seriously disturbed person:

  • the owner denies that the dog is barking and insists that it must be your imagination or some other dog you are hearing.

  • they admit the dog is barking but say that it doesn't really bother you -- that you only pretend it bothers you because you are out to get them.

  • they insist that barking doesn't bother normal people and it only bothers you because you are somehow flawed or defective.

  • they tell you they know you are working in concert with others or that they know you are trying to turn others against them. (This perception, by the way, is greatly exacerbated by the Multiple Household laws that mandate that the victim must call on the other neighbors and recruit them to join in the legal action.)

  • they receive complaints about their vicious dog behaving in a menacing fashion and respond by insisting that the dog "just wants to play" or "just wants some loving," or otherwise refuse to acknowledge the dog's threatening behavior.

Requesting a Police Escort

In the vast majority of jurisdictions, the police do not handle animal control complaints, so they will not go out to speak to your neighbor about his barking dog. You are still entitled to police protection, however. So if you feel threatened by the owner of a barking dog, you can ask the police to accompany you to ensure your safety when you call on the neighbor with your latest request that he quiet his dog. Taking the police with you may be an especially good idea when you suspect heavy alcohol or methamphetamine use.

For whatever reason, many people are extremely uneasy with the prospect of the police showing up unannounced at their doorstep. Even if the officer is just there to keep you company while you ask them to take responsibility for their dog, or make arrangements with them so you can once again use the inside of your home, it doesn't matter. There are some people who don't want cops around under any circumstance, and they will gladly train their dogs rather than face the prospect of future police visits.

End of a seven-part article: How to persuade your neighbors to quiet their chronically barking dogs

Go to the index for this article

This page on Persuading Your Neighbors is part of Section Two:
the Your Neighbor's Dog section of