Dogs are hard-wired to bark, and, reasonably, you have to expect some barking from a neighbor’s dog. However, non-stop barking is not normal, and when it feels like it goes on all night, it can cause some very un-neighborly feelings.
When neighborhood dogs bark all night incessantly, they disturb the peace, disrupt your sleep, and ruin your downtime. There’s a reason a dog is always barking, usually out of frustration, as a warning to others, or being territorial. Before resorting to a formal noise complaint, you should first communicate with your neighbor to find ways to resolve the problem.
This article will examine why dogs may bark at night and what you can do to try and address the issue. I’ll look at options you can try together with your neighbor and what you should do if those don’t work.
Diagnosing the Problem
Dogs bark for many reasons because it’s one of the main ways they communicate. Most barking is triggered by something, and most of the time, it won’t be prolonged. Understanding why a dog might constantly bark at night is fundamental in addressing any issues related to it (source).
Protecting Their Territory
Dogs will bark to protect the space they perceive to be their territory. Frustratingly, they may try to “protect” their space from passing cars, people, or other dogs.
Boredom and Frustration
Dogs that are left alone for long periods may bark out of pure boredom and frustration. This can become a compulsive habit if it’s not addressed and is the most common source of prolonged barking (source).
This is likely to happen with dogs who don’t get enough attention or exercise because their owners are at work all the time or otherwise occupied.
Dogs will often bark as a warning if they see unexpected activity, including visiting wildlife, such as squirrels or raccoons. If they are not acknowledged, then the barking could continue until the threat passes or they get a response.
Distress barking is different from normal barking and must be attended to. If your neighbor’s dog is barking in distress, then there could be an issue with the dog’s welfare requiring immediate action.
To read more about what triggers barking in dogs, read our article, “Do Dogs Get Tired of Barking?”
Dealing with Barking from Your Neighbor’s Dog
Your first action should always be to approach your neighbors and try to find a solution together. As the AKC recommends, you need to explain the issue without anger or judgment and then discuss options. Your neighbor may be unaware of their dog barking if they sleep on the other side of the house or are often out or away overnight.
It’s best to give them the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to solve the issue first. It’s also best to try and have the discussion face-to-face in a non-confrontational way. If you appear supportive, your neighbor will likely want to solve the issue.
You can also consider if there is anything you can do to limit the barking. For instance, if the dog barks because he can see you or your dog, it could work to erect fencing or foliage that blocks his view. It could also work if you try and get to know the dog so that he doesn’t view you as a threat when sensing your presence.
It’s not a good idea to yell at your neighbor’s dog or to try other negative solutions like spraying water through the fence or making loud noises to scare the dog — after all, it’s not your dog. Also, these kinds of negative reinforcements seldom work and are rarely in the dog’s best interests (source).
If all these actions fail, then you may have to file an official noise complaint. This could be through the landlord if you are a tenant, through your city government structures, or the police. Various states have different noise regulations, and you will need to familiarize yourself with those for your specific area.
As a last resort, you can go to the small claims court. For this, you will have to keep meticulous records and provide video or audio evidence of the barking.
These options are difficult for everyone concerned. Therefore, it is definitely preferable to discern what is causing the barking and then try and deal with it constructively together with your neighbor.
Alternatives to Suggest
If your neighbor is approachable and amenable, then you could suggest some solutions. The obvious solution for nighttime barking is to ask your neighbor to consider keeping the dog indoors at night. Leaving a dog outdoors means that he is more susceptible to the various triggers that cause barking.
If the dog must sleep outdoors, you could help ascertain what the triggers are and assist in addressing those. You could suggest that the dog get more exercise, particularly before bedtime, so that he is tired and more accepting of downtime.
You could suggest keeping him on a different side of the yard to prevent him from seeing the things that set him off.
There are also bark control solutions such as barking collars and ultrasonic bark deterrents that could be employed to help train new behavior.
Many experts are against using these devices because they can cause pain or discomfort through the use of electric shocks, high pitched noises, or disagreeable smells. Additionally, such punishment methods are not as effective in modifying behavior.
A constantly barking dog can be a real problem, particularly when they belong to a neighbor and you aren’t able to do anything to stop it. It’s worth remembering that a certain amount of barking is normal and acceptable, but barking that carries on consistently is not.
It’s important to understand why the dog is barking so that any strategies to adjust the behavior are targeted at the cause. It’s best to solve the problem together with your neighbor when possible to avoid an adversarial relationship. If not, there are channels available to assist with neighborhood noise regulation.