Having to endure the noise of a neighbor's dog barking or howling endlessly can be distressing. While it's true some owners might be inconsiderate and not care how the noise affects others, most are simply not aware of the barking or that their neighbors are annoyed. Hurt feelings, anger and frustration -- on both sides -- make for a very stressful situation. If you have a barking dog in your neighborhood, you can file a complaint to help address the issue.
Keep a log of the barking incidents if communicating with your neighbor has failed to resolve the problem. Write down the dates and the times of the barking episodes, how long the noise persisted and if the owner did anything to try to stop or prevent the barking. Include, too, the number of times you asked the dog’s owner to quiet the dog.
Contact your local animal control agency, police department or town clerk about the barking dog. Every jurisdiction has its own ordinances concerning this issue and procedures on how to address it. The office you speak with should be able to advise you on how to proceed with your complaint. You may have to visit the appropriate office in person, and many places require that you file your complaint through a letter or official form.
Document the information clearly and accurately if you must file a written complaint. Most barking complaints will ask for a description of the dog and the name and address of the dog's owner, as well as your name and address. Cite all the incidents you recorded in your log, providing as much information as possible about each one. After you've filed the complaint, the owner of the dog will typically receive a warning letter or a visit from a police officer or animal control officer, who will inform him about the complaints and ask that he keep the dog under control.
Contact the agency you've been working with and request further action if the issue is not remedied within a reasonable amount of time -- generally from one to two weeks. You might be required to submit another letter or form. This will usually result in a citation for the dog owner to appear at an administrative or court hearing. Depending on the outcome, the owner may be ordered to not only quiet his barking dog, but also pay a fine.
Before filing a complaint, try to speak with the owner of the dog and see if you can amicably resolve the situation. If you don't feel comfortable talking to the owner in person, write a polite letter explaining your concerns about the noise.
When speaking or writing to your neighbor about his dog, do so when you are not upset. Keep in mind that he may not know his dog is barking or that it is disturbing you. Be calm and friendly. Maintain a respectful tone and avoid offensive or intimidating language.
Ask other neighbors if they will accompany you to speak with the dog's owner if your original visit or letter did not help the situation. If the owner realizes you aren't alone in being disturbed by the noise and, in fact, a number of other neighbors find it annoying as well, he might be motivated to find a way to quiet the dog.
- barking puppy image by Victor B from Fotolia.com