How to Stop a Dog From Barking (and Driving You Bonkers)

Love ’em or hate ’em, dogs can certainly be noisy—and even if you love your own pooch, your neighbor’s yappy Pomeranian or territorial Rottweiler is another matter. Given that 36% of U.S. households own a dog, you’re quite likely to find yourself in a situation where you need to know how to stop a dog from barking. If it’s your dog, the power is in your hands; if it’s your neighbor’s, things can get a bit tricky. Try following these steps to resolve the situation and restore serenity to your life.

Have a chat with your dog-owning neighbor

Your first line of defense should be to try to resolve the issue directly with the dog’s owner—that means without getting anyone else involved.

“Calling the cops first is a huge betrayal of trust and will destroy the relationship,” says John Bialk, a former rental property manager and founder of Quietyme, a noise monitoring and management solution company.

When expressing your concern, focus on collaboration (“I’ve noticed your dog has been barking a lot, and it’s been disruptive for me. Do you think there’s a way to fix this?”). For instance, dogs often bark if they’re lonely or cooped up too much, so you could suggest getting the pooch more exercise or a companion animal to see if that might help.

Contact your landlord or homeowners association

If you rent a house or apartment, you’re in luck because you can pass the buck: It’s your landlord’s responsibility to help you handle any noise issues. You’ll want to present your landlord with evidence, such as a time-stamped audio recording of the dog barking, advises Bialk, adding that such software can be downloaded on a smartphone or computer.

If you own a condominium or townhome that’s part of a homeowners association, you can notify the condo board or HOA of the problem; most have rules against noise disturbances like barking dogs.

Get backup from your neighbors

If your neighbor ignores your request for quiet, you might want to talk to other people who live nearby to see if they also hear the dog’s barking. Odds are, you’re probably not the only one who’s suffering. Once you’ve enlisted help, you can then talk to your neighbor as a group; hopefully, the person will be more responsive to requests from multiple people. But make sure to approach your neighbor respectfully. (Read: Don’t assemble an angry mob.)

Research your city or state’s anti-barking laws

Many municipalities have a code against dogs barking, especially at night. You can look up your city or state’s ordinances online; if you have trouble finding the information, contact your town council or governor’s office. For instance, in New Jersey, a dog’s yapping enters illegal territory if the sound is continuous for more than five minutes or is intermittent for more than 20 minutes. These specifics will be helpful if you involve law enforcement like the police or the courts. Again, it would help your case to have a time-stamped audio recording.

Contact the police

If there are anti-barking laws in your area, file a noise complaint with local police. In most cases, an officer will speak to the dog’s owner and get the issue resolved. (FYI: Some jurisdictions will act on anonymous complaints, while others require your name and address.) If nothing changes, don’t hesitate to follow up and let the authorities know that there’s still an issue.

Last resort: Go to small-claims court or mediation

If you’ve tried all of the above to no avail, you can sue for nuisance in small-claims court. You’ll need to convince the judge that the dog’s barking is disruptive enough to prevent you from enjoying your own home. If you win, the dog owner will need to pay you a sum of money; once the person has been penalized financially, hopefully the loud barking will stop.

Alternatively, you can try mediation, where a neutral third party will listen to both sides and help you resolve the issue. Many cities have volunteer mediators who are trained to handle disputes between neighbors. You can ask your local district attorney’s office for a referral.

Forget about using a dog silencer

Maybe you’re tempted to get one of those devices that claim to use sound frequencies unpleasant to dogs to deter them from barking. These might work for a bit, but some dogs learn to ignore them and keep on barking. You will also need to be within range, with many working only up to 75 feet. So unless you live really close to your neighbors, you might be barking up the wrong tree with one of those gadgets. When in doubt, a good old-fashioned conversation with your neighbor is probably the best way to go.

Keep your cool

On the long-running sitcom “Seinfeld,” Elaine Benes tried to make her neighbor’s dog pipe down by shouting back. (Spoiler: It didn’t work.) The point we’re making is, whichever option you choose, just make sure to keep your cool.

“Never act when you are mad,” says Bialk. “Angry people are seen by all as irrational and harder to believe.”

Article by By