Barking up the obsessive tree?
March 9, 2010 3:24 PM   Subscribe

Can I train myself to not to obsess about some (slightly) pesky barking dogs?

There's a small farm next door, and a little house where the caretaker lives with her 3 dogs. Our property is separated by a small forested gully, and there's roughly 350 feet from our house to their fenced yard.

The barking was never an issue when leaves were on the trees, but during winter we can hear the dogs barking (very faintly) from inside our house. They don't bark continuously, just a few barks every 10 minutes or so and only during daylight hours. Of course they'll go nuts if a delivery truck or jogger passes, but nothing out of the ordinary for a dog.

I've developed some sort of obsession about these dogs. I loathe their barking, even though I can barely hear it from within our house. When I walk by the windows facing them, I always check to see if they're out. I think I'm starting to "hear" barking when they're not actually barking. Sometimes I can't think about our house without thinking in terms of how much I hate those damn dogs. Our setting is just so peaceful when they're not outside; I'm just a wreck that they're messing it up.

I recognize that the problem might be me. My spouse doesn't mind the dogs, other than the fact that they bother me.

Is there anything I can do to desensitize myself to this problem?

I don't feel in control of my own happiness here.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Weeds grow because we don't like them.

Learn this mantra, own it. Have you been over to the farm? Go there, meet the dogs, learn their names. In a way, these are your dogs too.

"bark, bark, bark"

"Oh, excellent! My friends are still alive and happy!"
posted by Meatbomb at 3:36 PM on March 9, 2010 [7 favorites]

Oh, and learn their barks too.

"bark, bark"

"That sounds like Rex. Excellent job, Rex, you go!"
posted by Meatbomb at 3:38 PM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you tried leaving a radio or TV on at a low volume while you're home? This seems like a good way to mask the sound of faint, intermittent barking.
posted by kitty teeth at 3:40 PM on March 9, 2010

Evergreens as a year-round sound barrier?
posted by IAmBroom at 4:46 PM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is it faint enough to be drowned out by white noise? TV? Music?

Like you, I loathe my neighbors yapping dog(s), but I find that if I distract myself with something else to listen to, they quickly fade from my consciousness.
posted by madajb at 5:03 PM on March 9, 2010

My back yard opens to a common area...within 200 yards of my house are 15 other back yards, half have dogs, half of those dogs bark... I don't even notice it..and when I do, I think (and smile) that's not my dog barking (and gloat a bit, cuz the husky hardly ever barks)...

Get your own non-barking dog and gloat a lot...

And, I like Meatbomb's idea as well... make them your friends....
posted by HuronBob at 5:12 PM on March 9, 2010

We have a barker across the street and his barking is not faint when we're inside. We've discovered that if we can take a minute and go talk to him, give him a pet and maybe a dog biscuit (approved by the owner), he calms down considerably. He misses his people while they're gone (they both work out of the home while we both work from home) and a few moments with us seem to make all the difference.

Make friends with them! Bring them owner-approved treats! You might be surprised how they respond.
posted by cooker girl at 5:43 PM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Get to know the neighbor and the dogs. Once you recognize their barks by ear, as it were, your mind will turn to what they might be doing and how much fun they might be having, and it won't bother you.
posted by davejay at 6:07 PM on March 9, 2010

I think I'm starting to "hear" barking when they're not actually barking. Sometimes I can't think about our house without thinking in terms of how much I hate those damn dogs.

Is something else going on in your life right now? Because from what you're describing of the situation, you seem to be having a disproportionate reaction. I know that when I'm going crazy with a problem (work, family, etc.) I often latch onto something that is inconsequential to everyone else but me and work myself up into a total froth over it. This sounds like this kind of situation to me.

I think the only thing to do to regain control over your own happiness is to see if this is really about the dogs or about something else. If it really is about the dogs, then I suggest running white noise all the time to mask them.
posted by crankylex at 6:35 PM on March 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

I don't know how helpful this is, but this poem by Billy Collins sort of explains how he deals with the same problem.

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house
and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
barking, barking, barking,

and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
had included a part for barking dog.

When the record finally ends he is still barking,
sitting there in the oboe section barking,
his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
entreating him with his baton

while the other musicians listen in respectful
silence to the famous barking dog solo,
that endless coda that first established
Beethoven as an innovative genius.
posted by TrarNoir at 7:09 PM on March 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

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