DEAR JOAN: I am surrounded by dogs -- the majority of homes in the area have one -- and am desperately in need of some assistance.
I have met with a few of my nondog-owner neighbors who are just as upset with the barking. We have made suggestions -- barking collars, obedience training -- with no real relief. Dogs bark from a distance in the valley as well as next door and can be heard for lengthy distances. Many of the dog owners work during the day with dogs left outside in the yard that bark at anything and everything. This is very annoying for those of us who work at home.
One of my neighbors mentioned the barking was so bad that it's had a negative effect upon his blood pressure and health.
This appears to be a hot item that no one really wants to deal with as many dog owners become upset when a suggestion is made regarding their pet. It's like you're criticizing one of their children.
Upset with barking dogs
DEAR UPSET: Have you considered double-pane windows, insulation and earplugs?
I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt about having a problem, but when you complain about being disturbed by the sound of dogs barking from across the valley, it makes me wonder if you are being realistic.
Dogs bark. That's what they do. And at times, it's hard for their owners to stop it. I know because I have a barking dog myself. He barks at cats. He barks at squirrels. He barks at the place he once saw a cat and a squirrel. We hush him and try to discourage his barking, but unfortunately, he's takes his job as chief dog seriously. Fortunately, he does not bark nonstop and he does not stay outside unsupervised.
Leaving a dog out all day or night to bark its head off is wrong. In that case, the owners need to be confronted and they need to figure out a solution (hint: getting another dog to keep the first one company is not one of those solutions).
It's probably not a good idea for those who don't have dogs to suggest things to people who do. There are many issues involved, and yes, it's like criticizing our children.
For the sake of neighborhood harmony, I would suggest you designate one person, preferably a pet owner who has some credibility and experience, to talk to those who have barking dogs. If they aren't home during the day, they may have no idea their dog is causing a problem.
I'd also encourage you to compromise. Dogs are going to bark. As long as they aren't doing it excessively, and not at night when most people are sleeping, they aren't in the wrong.
If the situation truly is as horrendous as you say and the neighbors refuse to quiet their dogs, then you can call the police and lodge disturbing-the-peace complaints against them every time you hear the barking. You'll likely annoy the police and some of your neighbors who may think police officers have better things to do, but you'll eventually have enough paperwork to support some sort of action by officials. You also can consider a civil suit. Be warned. You may eventually have quiet, but you probably won't have peace.
Do you live in a neighborhood where barking dogs are ruining your life? Are you a dog owner who hears complaints every time your dog lets out a yip? Does anyone have a solution? Write me and let's talk some more.
Contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.