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Q: teaching neighbor's dog not to bark ( Answered,   3 Comments )
Subject: teaching neighbor's dog not to bark
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: heathcliff3-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 15 Sep 2003 16:34 PDT
Expires: 15 Oct 2003 16:34 PDT
Question ID: 257100
My husband and I live next door to a couple who leave their dog
outside in all kinds of weather. Our local police seem to not want to
get involved, although we believe the dog has no shelter.  We are
trying to see if the local humane society will intervene. In the
meantime, the dog barks at everyone -- our dogs, us and our visitors
-- who is in our yard. We have tried one of those high-pitched "no
bark" noise devices, without success. I'm looking for another method
that could train this dog not to bark, since his owners are not going
to take responsibility for him. A friend uses a low-voltage device
that gives her dogs a mild shock to teach them not to bark; I am
reluctant to use this but am open to suggestions that will not harm
the dog.

Request for Question Clarification by pinkfreud-ga on 15 Sep 2003 16:38 PDT
Is the neighbor at all cooperative in this effort?

Request for Question Clarification by tutuzdad-ga on 15 Sep 2003 16:58 PDT
Would you be opposed to telling us what city, state (or applicable
area) you reside so we can find other alternatives if any exists?

Also, what "no-bark device" were you using that did not produce
favorable results?


Request for Question Clarification by knowledge_seeker-ga on 16 Sep 2003 05:12 PDT
Hi heathcliff3-ga,

I've got your question locked and I plan to work on it today, but I do
need to know a some things so that I can narrow down your options --

1. Is the dog tied up or behind a fence or both?
2. Do you have physical access to the dog? That is can you walk up to
it or reach it through or over the fence?

3. Do you have any reason to believe this dog is dangerous? Are you
comfortble approaching it?

4. Is the dog barking "at" you or does he just bark non-stop, even
when nobody is outside?

5. Most importantly, are you willing to put in some effort in actual
training and reinforcement to get this dog to settle down?

Any further information you can give me would be helpful. I understand
what it's like living next door to an incessantly barking dog (Been
there. Done that.) and I can assure you there are plenty of humane
options for retraining this dog.

I look forward to hearing back from you ..


Request for Question Clarification by knowledge_seeker-ga on 16 Sep 2003 17:00 PDT
Hi again heathcliff3,

Just to let you know I've put together a couple of pages of
information for you, but I'm not going to post anything until I am
sure of your situation. There's really no point in me researching
extensively down the wrong path or giving you suggestions that you
can't actually use. As soon as you get back to me with your
clarification, I'll put together a final answer for you.

Meanwhile, I don't know what time zone you're in, but I'm in US EDT
(GMT -4) so probably will not get back to this until tomorrow morning.

Will check back later --


Clarification of Question by heathcliff3-ga on 21 Sep 2003 13:15 PDT
Sorry to take so long to get back to you all. Here's the additional
information you requested:

1)No, the neighbors are not at all cooperative. They claim that their
dog never barks except when we take our dogs outside to do their
"business." In fact, the dog barks at anyone who passes by their
house.  Both the husband and wife work away from home, and the wife
told my daughter that they let the dog out in their yard as soon as
they come home from work, to stay out there for hours because it's
'all cooped up" during the day. so ewe can't expect any help from

2) We live in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. The device we used is about the
size of a garage door opener and emits a very high-pitched tone when
you push a button. It worked like a charm for our dogs - they now stop
barking if they even see me pick it up -- but when we tried using it
to train the dog next door, he only barked more.

3) The dog is in a fenced-in back yard. Occasionally he is tied up,
but for the most part he roams freely about the yard. Our properties
are separated by a six-foot-high fence. It is possible to reach
through gaps in the fence, but the gaps are very small, about 1" wide.
We are not sure if the dog is dangerous. The neighbor who lives on the
other side of them told me that she approached the dog one day to take
it home when it had gotten out of its yard, but it growled at her and
she was afraid to go near it.  He barks whenever someone goes near
their home - if fact, if someone walks by on the sidewalk, he will
bark at them from a window if he's inside the house. He's not a
non-stop barker but seems to bark in response to any noise he hears,
and will keep it up indefinitely on those occasions. He really seems
to lack for attention. I never see his owners out walking him on the
street or hear them play with him. And yes, I am willing to put time
in to work with this dog. What I really wish is that they'd give him
to someone who really would want and love him, but I don't think
that's going to happen.

Thanks for your help!
Subject: Re: teaching neighbor's dog not to bark
Answered By: knowledge_seeker-ga on 22 Sep 2003 08:48 PDT
Hi heathcliff3-ga,

Well, I can certainly understand your frustration. It's hard to enjoy
your back yard when a dog is persistently barking at you and its
owners seem to either not notice or not care. This is especially true
when you have worked with your own dogs so that they are not
neighborhood nuisances. One would think you could expect the same in
return from those around you.

Though it's little comfort, it may interest you to know that barking
dogs are a leading cause of neighborhood tensions. The neighbors who
are annoyed become short-tempered and the dog's owners become
defensive. This can lead to anything from bad feelings to litigation
and in some extreme cases the death of the dog (who is an innocent
bystander in all of this) by "suspicious causes."  Not a good picture
all around.

I'm glad you are willing to try to work this out with the dog and have
attempted to work directly with the neighbors. This is a much more
positive approach that one of litigation or retaliation. I do think
you are absolutely correct in your assessment that this dog lacks
attention. He's in all day with nobody home and then, as soon as they
get home, he's relegated to the back yard. Without the support of his
"pack" family, it's no wonder that he fears strangers and doesn't have
a clear sense of where his territory begins and ends.

What I'm going to do here is give you some background on why some dogs
bark excessively. Then I'll give you some preventive measures you may
be able to put into place and some training techniques that you may be
able to use with this dog. Finally, I'll give you some other options
for dealing with the dog's owners.  Of course there is no guarantee
any of this will work, but it's my hope that some combination of the
strategies I give you will have some effect.

The associated links I give you will provide more detailed


Dogs bark for many reasons. Figuring out why this dog is barking is
the key to solving the problem.


It does not sound to me like this dog is barking out of boredom. Bored
dogs bark aimlessly for hours on end and do not focus their barking on
people or other dogs. These are the dogs that sit on the back deck or
at the end of their chains just repetitively barking into the air or
at the back door. There is no angry pitch to the bored dog's bark.
It's just a repetitive monotone "I have nothing else to do" bark or a
plaintive "let me in the house, I'm lonely" bark.


This is where I think your neighbor dog is coming from. It sounds to
me like there are two things at work here. He is barking defensively –
that is he barks at anything and anyone he perceives as a threat to
himself. That he doesn't stop barking as soon as the threat has
passed, leads me to believe that he is also experiencing "barrier
frustration" in response to the adrenaline build-up that's caused by
the initial perceived threat and the subsequent barking. The more they
bark, the higher the adrenaline builds so the more they bark. It
becomes and endless cycle.

The fact that this dog continues to bark and you and your family is
somewhat worrisome from a safety standpoint. Most emotionally stable
dogs eventually learn to recognize their neighbors and cease reacting
to them after repeated exposure. Dogs that continue to bark at the
neighbors and are frustrated by the barrier of a fence or chain often
do end up biting people the minute they get loose. By the time the
chain snaps or the gate pops open, the dog's defensive mechanisms are
high and the adrenaline is driving him forward aggressively.


There's also the issue of barking at your dogs and other dogs that
pass his house. This is a different problem than barking at people.
Dogs are naturally territorial. They bark at other dogs to warn them
off their property. In the wild, your dogs and your neighbor's dog
would duke it out once and for all and someone would end up owning the
territory by chasing away the intruder. Obviously, that can't happen
with domestic dogs and a strongly territorial dog will be continuously
frustrated by his inability to drive away dogs that he thinks are too
close to his space. If the dogs on the other side of the fence are
also territorial, this can result in escalating fence line wars.

This is most often a problem with intact (not neutered) dogs of both
sexes, although slightly more prevalent in males. It is also more
prevalent in certain breeds which have been selected for "guarding"

So we have two issues to deal with here – the barking at human
strangers out of fear and barking at your dogs. I'll address the
solutions to these separately, but you can implement them



First, for the territorial issue between dogs, I would suggest
blocking off at least the lower section of fence so that the
neighbor's dog and yours can't see each other at all.  Fence wars
begin with visual contact. Dogs that can't see each other generally
won't be aggressive toward one another.  Rather than commit to an
expensive solution that may not work, you can test this solution by
using that black gardening plastic that comes on a roll. Just
staple-gun it to your fence.

(In fact, it may even be enough to block off the whole height of the
fence to prevent the dog from seeing you too. You might find that it's
only the visual cues that are stimulating a reaction from this dog. It
would be worth testing it.)


Also, many people have success putting a separator fence inside their
yards to prevent two dogs from meeting at a fence line. This is an
inner fence that keeps a buffer zone between the two yards. Ideally of
course, this would be in your neighbor's yard, not yours. But assuming
they aren't willing to cooperate, you could try it your yard. Anything
that prevents your dogs from approaching the fence would work. You can
use regular fencing, invisible fence, or another physical barrier like
a garden wall. Your goal is to keep your dogs away from the fence


The first thing to understand about modifying a defensive barking
dog's behavior is that reprimand and punishment will only make the
problem worse. If this dog fears strangers (which is likely), scolding
or punishing him will only make him fear you more. Every time someone
from your back yard scolds him, his adrenaline goes up and his
behavior will escalate.

No, the key here is to somehow make this dog understand that you and
your family are part of his pack and that he answers to you. The most
straightforward way to do this is teach him to come to you on command,
and reward him for doing so. This is going to be difficult through a
fence, but I think it might be possible.

For the basic information on teaching a dog to come when called, and
using that to break a barking habit, I'm going to refer you to some
articles online. Other people have already written this as well as I
could so there's no point in me repeating it. But, we'll have to
insert a step at the beginning since this isn't your dog.

STEP 1 – Make friends with this dog through the fence* 

Do this through the use of his name, treat rewards, and a pleasant
voice. Show no fear of him and especially show no anger towards him.
Assume he is afraid of you.

Offer him dog biscuits or some other form of treat. The stronger and
more enticing the scent, the better. For awhile he probably won't get
near enough to take the treat from you and he might bark at you the
whole time. Just be persistent and reward him verbally and with the
treat for even the littlest progress. If he pauses his barking, give
him an enthusiastic "good dog!" and toss him the treat or poke it
through the fence.

You might even buy some safe dog toys that you can give him over the
fence. Make sure your scent (but not your dog's) is all over them so
that you become familiar to him. Talk to him the whole time you're
delivering the gift. Eventually he will get used to your voice and
your scent.

Oh, and also, always approach him from the same spot at the fence.
This will prevent him from being surprised or frightened by you
popping over the fence in a seemingly random manner.

 * This section only applies to you. Not your dogs. They should not be
out when you are trying to work with this dog, and I honestly don't
think there is a safe way for you to have this dog make "friends" with

STEP 2 – Teach him to come to you in return for a reward. 

STEP 3 – Call him to you every time he barks at people in your yard,
on the street out front, or for any other reason.

This article is an excellent overview of dog barking issues. If you
scroll down the page, under BARKING SOLUTIONS there are two sections:

The Foundation: Training to Come When Called
Training to Control and Reduce Barking


Those are the basic steps you want to try to replicate through the
fence. The key here is you want to distract him from whatever he's
barking at, and have him focus on YOU. Under FURTHER INFORMATION below
are more links to details on how to implement that training. Read
those through before you begin since there are many helpful details
there that I haven't' addressed here.


My expertise is in dog training, not neighborhood goodwill, so I'm not
going to address this in detail, but I did find a couple of useful
things I wanted to present to you. First of all, wherever possible,
you want to deal directly with the neighbors before involving the law.
 The key to that is going to be to take a positive helpful approach
rather than a litigious one. You can be sure they are already
defensive, just like their dog. :-)

I think if you can make it clear to them that you want to work
positively with their dog and that you'd like to elicit their
cooperation, they might be will to meet you part way.

Perhaps put together a packet similar to the one linked below, and add
some of the training information that I've given you. Maybe if they
see that you consider the problem serious but that you are willing to
invest effort to help the dog be more secure and well behaved, they
might cooperate with you.

This pdf file is really slow to load. When you open it, it will appear
to be a grey page in your acrobat reader for quite some time (> 1 min
on broadband). Be patient, it will eventually load and is well worth
the wait. Although the Australian regulations it cites are obviously
not applicable to you, the packet serves as an excellent guideline for
something you might want to present to your neighbors.


From this website: BARK BUSTERS





For more information, go here and search under DOGS for the term:


NOTE: I have limited my resources to the VETERINARY PARTNERS website
for a reason. I have worked with pets and animals and have studied
animal behavior all my life, and this site offers some of the soundest
advice I have ever read online.

As an example, if you do a general online search for behavioral
methods for dealing with barking dogs, you will find numerous sites
that advocate spraying them in the face with water, scolding, and
making noise louder than the dog to "show it whose boss." This is all
pure malarkey. Not only won't it work, but these methods damage the
dog psychologically and can result in a dangerous animal.

So, what I've given you should give you a good start on some methods
for dealing with the problem. This dog is not going to change
overnight, but there's no time like the present for beginning the
process. These people and this dog are probably going to be your
neighbors for a long time> You may as well be the one to build a
positive bridge between you.

Please let me know if anything I've told you is confusing or if any of
the links don't work properly. Thanks for your question. I hope I've
been able to help. Good luck!


search terms:

On VETERINARY PARTNERS WEBSITE: "Barking"  ; "barking" "Neighbors"

GOOGLE: dog nuisance barking
Subject: Re: teaching neighbor's dog not to bark
From: snsh-ga on 15 Sep 2003 23:59 PDT
Feed the dog and you'll be its best friend.
Subject: Re: teaching neighbor's dog not to bark
From: sluggy-ga on 02 Oct 2003 00:04 PDT
Ask your neighbors if it's ok if you give their dog a daily walk.
Perhaps mention that you'd like to get out more walking and you're not
getting quite the exercise from walking your own. By walking this dog
you'll build up his confidence in you as a friend, and he'll welcome
the opportunity to get out and sniff out all those smells he's been
deprived of. It will also give you a bit of time to start the training
process that will eventually quiet him down. Most folks are more than
happy to have someone walk their dog, especially someone who seems
very interested in him and happy to be around him.

What kind of dog is it? I have a terrier and he barks at EVERYTHING.
He's just a little guy and seems to only bark at the biggest dogs and
the biggest trucks lol. He's calming down, but he's 2 1/2 years old
and it's been a long process. I've never had a terrier before, my
other dogs being much more agreeable and better behaved breeds like
Austrailian shepards and Queensland Heelers, but I'm told this is a
common terrier trait.
Subject: Re: teaching neighbor's dog not to bark
From: dogalone-ga on 20 Dec 2003 16:32 PST
I'd like to mention another anti-berking solution:
The dog owner records voice messaged,that are played when barking is detected.

Also, looks like it's the cheapest solution.

However, you need to have a PC :)

Good luck,

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