Help with a Barking Dog
January 19, 2011 10:06 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend is working the night shift for several months, and our neighbor's dog's barking is waking him up in the morning. We are looking for suggestions on how to handle this.

Our neighbor has a Rottweiler who is very sweet, but very loud. He keeps her in the yard right next to our bedroom during the day, and the dog whines and barks for several hours at a time. We understand that dogs are going to bark and that it's not the neighbor's fault that my boyfriend needs to sleep during the day, but we'd like to find ways to minimize the noise. We're planning to tell our neighbor what the situation is, with the understanding that he might not want to make any changes, and my boyfriend also runs a fan and a "nature sounds" cd to drown out the noise. Does anyone have any other specific suggestions that might help with the barking, or help him sleep through it?
posted by odayoday to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by halogen at 10:14 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Earplugs are the only thing that keep me sane, except it's MY pets I'm trying to cancel out.
posted by hermitosis at 10:14 AM on January 19, 2011

Yeah, earplugs. But also just approach them in a friendly way and let them know what's going on. They may not even realize that their dog is barking.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:17 AM on January 19, 2011

Any chance he can relocate his sleeping location to another place in the house to get further away from the barking dog?
posted by fenriq at 10:17 AM on January 19, 2011

I hope talking to the neighbor might work. If you explain it as you did here, I think they would be happy to do something. I had the same problem and tried one of those things that emit a high pitched sound when the dog barked and it did not work on my neighbor’s dog. I had a hard time sleeping with earplugs so I ended up moving the bed into the living room. While weird, it worked; I was single at the time. If your closet is large enough, you might put down padding and sleep in there. I had more luck with changing where I slept versus trying to get the dog to be quiet.
posted by iscavenger at 10:19 AM on January 19, 2011

Download a brown noise mp3. I live on the busiest street in Brooklyn above the most obnoxious hipsters in the world, brown noise is the only way I am able to sleep at night. I tried the noise canceling headphones but they annoyed me while I slept. I plug my ipod into my Bose and position it between the bed and the window and don't hear a thing. A sleep mask and a cool room wouldn't hurt either.
posted by Siena at 10:20 AM on January 19, 2011 [4 favorites]

Earplugs are a godsend. If the ends stick out and rub against a pillow it can be loud and irritating, but they can totally be cut with scissors.

It's hard to ask the people around you to adapt their normal routines to fit your unusual one, even when they're in the same household. Asking your neighbor to accommodate your boyfriend's sleeping schedule might be rude. They might do it, but thereafter you might be The Difficult Neighbors.

But if they're leaving the dog unattended for hours and just letting it bark nilly-willy, that can be irritating. Maybe you could strike up a conversation over the fence and say something without blaming them, like "When Boyfriend works these night shifts, it can be so hard for him to sleep sometimes, especially when some of the neighbors play radios outside or leave their dogs outside barking for hours... not your dog, of course..." Sometimes passive-aggressive is better than aggressive-aggressive.
posted by sarling at 10:25 AM on January 19, 2011

seconding a noise machine, combined with earplugs. if you don't want to invest in a machine, a fan can do the trick (or a/c unit in the summer).
posted by anya32 at 10:33 AM on January 19, 2011

(sorry, my reading is off, i missed that he is already using a fan.)
posted by anya32 at 10:46 AM on January 19, 2011

Are the neighbors at home during the barking? If not, they might actually appreciate being told their dog is unhappy while they're away. (As PhoBWanKenobi suggested.)
posted by staggernation at 10:48 AM on January 19, 2011

I've had neighbors ask me to try and keep the dogs quiet after 9 pm or before 8 am (different locations, my dogs don't actually bark that nuttily) -- with the first set of neighbors, we had a good relationship with them and it was a casual mention and we were happy to honor their request. With the other neighbors it was mixed in with a long list of insane criticisms, but since I was home during the day, it was easy enough to let the dogs out later in the morning. I don't know if the timing is right for your boyfriends sleep schedule/the neighbors morning schedule, but I don't think asking them to shift an hour or so is unreasonable.

And of course, cookies always smooth things like this. ;o)
posted by MeiraV at 10:50 AM on January 19, 2011

One earplug.

I'm mostly deaf in one ear, so I can roll over on my good ear and ignore the cats scratching at the door. But if the phone rings or the alarm goes off, even my bad ear can pick that up.
posted by notsnot at 10:52 AM on January 19, 2011

I like Leight brand earplugs. They block out my husband's unbelievably loud snoring.
Do the neighbors just seem to "have" the dog or do they seem to care for it a lot? I ask because I would be incredibly concerned about this issue if you were my neighbor and alerted me about my dogs doing this. I would be enormously concerned about my dog being distressed and figure out something to alleviate it. Poor pup!
I would also be very understanding about night shift sleeping patterns. We don't let our dogs out after 11 if we can help it because they sometimes bark once or twice at random things beyond our control and we know how annoying it is to be awakened by dog barks! Our neighbor has two very barky dogs who they let stay out all night or let out at 3 am. It's so irritating to live next to inconsiderate dog owners! But I digress--i'd give your neighbors a heads up about daytime sleeping and if they ignore you get some Leight sleepers earplugs.
posted by hecho de la basura at 10:57 AM on January 19, 2011

We run a table fan all year. It works better for us than a white noise machine. We've got roosters, dogs, unmuffled trucks, and jerks around where I live. We have to leave the windows open all year (tropics), but the fan helps blend the noise away.
posted by fifilaru at 10:59 AM on January 19, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! The neighbor does take good care of the dog, so yes, it may be that he doesn't realize how much she barks. We'll definitely look into earplugs (thanks for the brand specifics!), and other white noise options.

If you have any other ideas, please keep them coming!
posted by odayoday at 11:12 AM on January 19, 2011

Offer to supply the dog with some long-lasting bones or chewy toys. Depending on the dog, just having something to focus on other than [squirrels|other dogs|birds|leaves|random air molecules] may help with the barking.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:40 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you at home when this happens? If so, offer to take the dog for a walk every day. If not, offer to pay for a dog-walking service.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:42 AM on January 19, 2011

In addition to using earplugs, proper insertion is crucial to receive the full noise-blocking benefits. Foam ones go in much further than I thought. It takes some getting used to, but the difference is significant. Video:
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 11:46 AM on January 19, 2011

One oddity to remember about foam earplugs (I've used them for awhile in a number of situations) is that they have two different ends, usually. You need the plasticy, harder end inserted in first in order to reap the full benefit
posted by MangyCarface at 12:07 PM on January 19, 2011

I work nights and use ear plugs daily. I hate the wax ones, you really need foam. My bedroom is behind a TV that plays all day. Ditch the white noise and go no noise.

These are my new favorite, I found them at bed bath and beyond. I recommend you go to drug stores (various ones, they usually sell different ones and spend like $30 total on all different types to trial and error to find the best to his likens.):
Leight sleepers

These are also really good but I find them a little too soft, especially after about 6 hours of sleep. Get these if others are uncomfortable.

Don't be put off on the prices on amazon, they are bulk prices. Local drug stores usually have 20 pair packs for around $5.00. Once you find ones you like, buy bulk. Also they might say it's a one time use, but I use them 3-4 nights then toss them. Just keep them clean and covered when not in use. Make sure ears are not wet, IE don't insert after showering, so to prevent infections. I am kind a pro at insertion, my way is to use both thumbs and both index fingers to roll the whole thing thin, long and as cylindrical and straight as possible, insert until you feel something and hold it there while it's expanding.

To wake up, I have no problem hearing the alarm on my phone, a few feet from my head on my night stand. But he need to experiment with high pitched "annoying" ring tones, clam harp sounds won't cut it.

Heres the ringtone I wake up to everyday, formatted for the iPhone.

I hear carpets on the walls work great to block noise but can't comment.

Target sells room darkening "energy saving" blinds you can put over the windows. Depending on your style, duct tape it to the window so no light seeps through. A fleece blanket works well too, double folded.

Beginning in the spring, depending where you live of course, it starts to get real hot because all the windows and doors are shut up in the hottest time of the day, so I recommend a window AC at from this time all the way to the fall for comfort. It might be expensive, but you can't put a price on sleep. Recycled air via a desktop fan doesn't seem to cut it for me.

Also, I can't sleep right after work, my bed time is usually 2PM-10PM, no exceptions. I sleep in on my night off, and stay up a bit later, but if I sleep at night my whole sleep schedule goes all haywire.
posted by glenno86 at 1:08 PM on January 19, 2011

There's a white/pink/brown noise "machine," right here on the Internets. I blast it through my laptop speakers to drown out the neighbors' wailing baby.
posted by functionequalsform at 1:17 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Talk to the dog owner, having a dog barking all day is not very neighborly (not just for those who work nights) and I certainly would want to know if it was my dog (but then, I don't think it's appropriate to leave a dog outside and unsupervised all day, so it wouldn't BE my dog, obviously YMMV)
posted by biscotti at 2:00 PM on January 19, 2011

I'd recommend reading Crucial Confrontations to anyone with a question like this.

Elaborating on what others have said about approaching your neighbor and having a friendly conversation, this means making your neighbor feel safe during the conversation. If you can be confident in your ability to make them feel safe when you raise the issue, this will get you farther than any decision tree you can draw up.

This means going out of your way to tell them that you know that they're not aware of the situation, you wouldn't be coming to them unless you tried a couple of things, and without making reference to any recourse you police, landlords, or other neighbors who agree with you that it's a problem. Mention that your boyfriend has it pretty rough without turning it into an accusation, and let them connect the dots. Offer them chances to make suggestions about how to improve the situation and take their suggestions seriously before making any of your own. I would suggest picking a time with them to follow up regardless of how the conversation works out.

You should look at the conversation as an opportunity to improve your relationship with your neighbor.

I used this approach today to raise and resolve an issue with a co-worker who is almost universally acknowledged as being excuciatingly oblivious to boundaries and civility. It worked unbelievably well.
posted by alphanerd at 3:00 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

A public nuisance is a public nuisance, dog or not. Talk to the neighbor. If they can't remedy the situation, complain to the police. There's no reason your quality of life should suffer at the expense of negligent dog owners.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 3:38 PM on January 19, 2011

offer to buy the neighbors dog a anti bark collar, worked wonders for my dog.
posted by k8inhawaii at 4:46 PM on January 19, 2011

My mom's neighbors have two dogs that live mostly in the back yard and used to bark almost incessantly. Her husband bought one of these a couple of years ago, hung it from a tree in his own yard, and the dogs stopped barking. No discussion with neighbors necessary. YMMV.
posted by Rula Lenska at 10:42 PM on January 20, 2011

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