Defining Memories

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Dogs That Go Bark in the Night

Confronting your neighbors about barking dogs – for a quieter night of sleep.

I like dogs. But I admit, I am especially bothered by the barking of dogs when I am trying to sleep. And especially when the barking is house-shakingly loud or piercingly shrill.

I have a particularly thorny situation. One next door neighbor lets his dog out early, around 6:30 A.M., while the neighbor on the other side lets his dogs out late, often as late (or early) as 2:00 A.M. Not much quiet time for sleep and not much I can do to adjust my schedule.

So what can be done about a neighbor’s barking dogs?

Given my sensitivity to the sound of loud barking, I have, over the years, discovered some helpful strategies. My two goals are to limit the barking and to maintain good relations with my neighbors – if for no other reason than to be able talk to them about their dogs. Here are some thoughts I keep in mind.

1. It is never the dog’s fault. The dog is simply doing what it does. It is your neighbor’s responsibility to be considerate – either by training the dogs or by managing their outdoor time. 

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2. Don’t be surprised if your neighbor initially replies with a complaint about you. Take that as an opportunity to show graciousness and cooperation  (for example, I didn’t realize my tree dropped walnuts on my neighbor’s truck).

3. Avoid being only the complainer. Talk about topics other than the barking. Take on other roles – the casual conversationalist, the person who brings summer tomatoes or some beers, the Samaritan who takes the trash barrel in from the street. Create multiple associations for yourself. 

4. Always stay cordial. Don’t let actions devolve into the Seth Rogen movie, Neighbors.

5. Don’t be surprised if your neighbors initially deny that their dog is the one that barks. In that case, be prepared to note exactly when the dog barked and for how long – and return the next day after the barking.

6. Take the perspective of your neighbor. If your neighbor has a difficult schedule, work out a compromise. Offer to help with the dog.

7. Be a sympathetic human being. Convey how not sleeping makes your day miserable, as well as the day of your coworkers and your family. 

8. Talk to other neighbors about what they think of the barking. If possible, you could each talk to your neighbor with the barking dog, independently. But don’t gang up, two against one.

9. Maintain communication. Don’t cut off diplomatic relations – no matter how tempting.

10. Learn to appreciate the quiet times.

 

Robert N. Kraft, Ph.D., is professor of cognitive psychology at Otterbein University. 

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