How to deal with a crappy neighbor
July 12, 2012 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Neighbor problem. My neighbor lets unleashed dogs run around.

I have lived in a duplex for 2 years. I rent and my relationship with my landlord is good. I have never had any complaints about anything. I have two dogs and an unfenced yard in the middle of the city and when I take my dogs out they are on leashes.

A new neighbor moved in three months ago and has two dogs. The neighbor always lets the dogs out unleashed. My dogs are generally fine around other dogs when we're out and about but in our own yard and in close proximity if a dog runs up to them the go crazy barking. They are both rescue dogs and one came from a bad situation and was never properly socialized so gets nervous (but never aggressive) if a dog runs straight up to him. I've been working hard to desensitize him to people and animals with some success but obviously it takes some time. A big part of what I do (and what my trainer has told me to do) is set him up for success by keeping him a safe distance from situations that might set him off. So if we're on walks and I see another dog coming from the other direction, I will walk in a different direction. Obviously this is impossible when other dogs are unleashed and just run up to us. My other dog is very friendly and usually just starts barking because the other one does.

The first few days the guy was there, he let his dogs out, my dogs went crazy and I explained to him that my dogs will maybe get a little scared if unleashed dogs run up to them when them when they are on leashes. I said I am taking them to classes and working with an individual trainer to teach them obedience and general all around good manners. He mentioned something about my dogs barking at the window when I'm not home if he's outside and ever since then, I have put baby gates up to block their access from the windows and have been working on their barking (with some success).

After at least two times during his first week there of me explaining that my dogs aren't aggressive but they will get scared if he lets his dogs run up to them unleashed, I kind of thought he would respect that and not let his dogs out when I'm out. No. He let them out one morning when I had my dogs out and they ran straight up to my dogs, which set them off which caused one of his to snarl at mine. He called them away but made no effort to go back in so I had to take my dogs inside and wait for him to finish before I took my dogs back out to finish going to the bathroom.

That day I called the landlord and asked him nicely to ask the neighbor to either leash the dogs if I am outside with mine, or to look out the window and make sure I'm not out there before he lets them run out. The landlord agreed that it was fine for me to ask this and then added that the dogs were very nice even though they might look scary (they are at least part bully breeds). I said I had no issue with the dogs themselves and I love dogs, I thought these dogs were cute dogs and pretty well behaved but that I needed them to not be running up to my dogs and scaring them. He agreed and said he would say something.

So the neighbor still lets the dogs out unleashed but hasn't done so when I am out. Until thismorning when he again let them come running downstairs and outside when I was out with my dogs. So I again had to scoop my dogs up and bring them in and wait until he came back in to take them back out to finish going to the bathroom.

I am seriously pissed off about this and I don't know what to do at this point. I know I need to move, and I am actually in the process of getting approved for a mortgage so I can buy a place, but this will take at least a few months.

Also, new guy's family and landords family are old family friends. So I feel like That Guy if I call up again to say something. And neighbor already hates me and I am a very non-confrontational person and would rather just let things be. Neighbor has shown himself to be kind of a jerk (as a person) since he moved in, although other than the dogs issue, he is fine as a neighbor.

A few other things:

My friend was dropping me off Saturday night and had to slam on her brakes in front of my house because one of neighbors dogs ran right in front of her car. He was running toward our house from the other direction a half a block away. Neighbor was in the yard and not with the dog half a block away.

We live in the middle of the city in a heavily residential area.

There is a leash law in my city. It includes leashing your dogs in yards if they are unfenced.

I kind of feel that it's ridiculous that I have to ask this twice. I know I need to move but until that happens I have to live here. What should I do to deal with this in the meantime?

Should I let it go this time and call the landlord if it happens again? I would have done that if it weren't for the incident Saturday where my friend almost hit the dog whcih makes me think that these are two incidents, though only one incident that involved my dogs, which is my main concern.

I thought about calling animal control to report them but that feels passive aggressive. I would rather talk to the landlord the first few times and then call animal control to complain about a leash law being broken if it continues.

My landlord has always been pretty decent but considering that these families are old chums, I worry that I'm just going to piss him off. I know I've already pissed the neighbor and his family off, as I walked past a relative of his who was visiting the other day, who completely ignored my casual hello. So I'm pretty clearly the horrible bitch who lives in the other apartment.


Please give me your advice on how to deal with this until I finally am able to move.
posted by and hey Charlie to Pets & Animals (55 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Call the landlord if you want to be nice, and call Animal Control if you're afraid of the dogs getting run over or becoming a danger to people outside. It's only a coincidence that you know who the owner is.
posted by rhizome at 11:44 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Am I to understand that your neighbor saw one of his dogs narrowly escape death when your friend almost hit it, yet still lets them go outside unleashed? Yeah, it's time to call animal control. You're dealing with a very special kind of stupid that I doubt your landlord has the ability to control.
posted by I_Zimbra at 11:47 AM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]

Go ahead and own that the neighbour dislikes you, and tell him there's a leash law, you're sick of his dogs bothering yours, you don't want to be involved in them getting run over, and if you see them off leash again you'll call Animal Control. Then when you see them off leash again, call Animal Control.
posted by jacalata at 11:47 AM on July 12, 2012 [31 favorites]

It's time to call animal control.
posted by Specklet at 11:47 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

To clarify: you want dogs leashed in a shared yard because your own dogs have leash aggression issues and it would make your life easier? I really don't think you're going to get very far with that one. Most people are going to think its unreasonable for someone with non-aggressive dogs to have to accommodate you. I have a dog with some leash aggression and I certainly wouldn't expect the neighbor to alter his life to accommodate that.

The leash law in your town is probably your only leg to stand on but do you really want to go there with a neighbor?

Instead you light try letting the dogs meet and hang out in neutral territory off leash. Once they know each other the problem should go away.
posted by fshgrl at 11:48 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]

You've talked to the dog owner and you've talked to the landlord. There's nothing passive aggressive about calling the police. Take your phone outside with you when you take your dogs out and if he lets his dogs out call the police/animal control.

Also, I don't see why you need to move just because of this. Keep calling the police and eventually the dogs won't be let out off-leash. True, you may have a neighbor that hates you but unless he is crazy and tries to be aggressive himself its not the end of the world.
posted by mikepop at 11:48 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Call animal control, because seriously, fuck irresponsible pet owners who can watch their dog almost get hit by a car and do nothing.
posted by elizardbits at 11:48 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I kind of feel that it's ridiculous that I have to ask this twice.

After at least two times during his first week there of me explaining that my dogs aren't aggressive but they will get scared if he lets his dogs run up to them unleashed, I kind of thought he would respect that and not let his dogs out when I'm out.

It's not clear that you've asked once. Telling him that your dogs will get scared is hint-dropping, not asking.
posted by jon1270 at 11:50 AM on July 12, 2012 [12 favorites]

I called the landlord and asked him nicely to ask the neighbor to either leash the dogs if I am outside with mine, or to look out the window and make sure I'm not out there before he lets them run out

It doesn't sound like you've asked him to do this in a clear and direct way yourself. (an Ask v.s. Guess situation)

You don't know what, if anything, the landlord ended up telling him in response to your call. You've talked to the neighbor about your dogs getting scared, and hoped that he would figure out there was something you wanted him to do. He might have no idea.

Don't assume the neighbor is upset with you because his relative ignored you. Talk to your neighbor, start a friendly conversation about the dogs, and ask for what you want. Calling the landlord and expecting him to deliver the message was passive aggressive, and you don't know if or what message got passed on.
posted by yohko at 11:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would go quiet for a couple of weeks before phoning animal control, in order to let tensions (apparently) subside. That way it might look like someone else phoned animal control.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

There is a leash law in my city. It includes leashing your dogs in yards if they are unfenced.

Simply call 911 and tell them dogs are running around. Done.

I don't understand the energy put into the analysis of the situation, passive-aggressive "asking," and writing of this long post.

Dispatch will send the right people (Animal Control, CSO). They do this all the time.

I call the cops for dogs off-leash in my own neighborhood. Yep, I am one of those annoying neighbors looking out for the kids, plants, and other dogs in my neighborhood. After just two people got tickets due to my calling, I haven't seen a dog off-leash in my neighborhood for over a year. And every single house on my street has dogs.
posted by TinWhistle at 11:54 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

I want to issue one caution, which is that if it's true that your dogs bark while you're gone, calling animal control or the police raises the possibility that he will turn around and file a noise complaint or complain to the landlord about the dogs barking while you're not there. I'm not saying that means you shouldn't do it, nor am I saying that the neighbor would be right to do that, but I am saying that as you consider the pros and cons, one vote in favor of making another effort to resolve it informally is that as long as you also have problematic dogs, your situation as far as making official complaints is a bit more tricky than it otherwise would be. Because I have to say, while having dogs run up to your dogs and scare them kind of stinks, so does having a neighbor's dogs bark and bark.

Again, not blaming you just encouraging you to think about all the possible ramifications of deciding you're going to go strict-compliance with the neighbor. Not saying you shouldn't do it, but think through what you'll do if that happens, because it very well might.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 11:55 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

You spent a lot of time explaining to us here, and explaining to your neighbor, why your special snowflake dogs need other neighborhood dogs to not be running around off-leash. You are almost apologizing for your special-needs dogs. But the thing is, your neighbor should not be letting his dogs run around off-leash into other people's yards at all. Even if your dogs don't care, even if you don't have dogs.

You made it clear to your neighbor the first time you talked to him that you were asking a lot of him on behalf of your dogs, and that he'd be doing you a favor. I love dogs but the first time someone's dogs ran into my yard I'd grab them by the collar and walk them home and say "hey cute dogs but I think they got loose, they really need to be leashed."

You don't ask him to do you a favor, you inisist that he take care of his animals.
posted by headnsouth at 11:56 AM on July 12, 2012 [11 favorites]

Call animal control, because seriously, fuck irresponsible pet owners who can watch their dog almost get hit by a car and do nothing.

The OP didn't say the neighbor saw that incident.

You should be aware that depending on where you live, calling animal control can be very likely to be a death sentence for the dogs if their owner is irresponsible enough not to go claim them. Although I suppose that would prevent them from running up to a leashed dog ever again.
posted by yohko at 11:59 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

If the dogs are in his yard, and they are non-aggressive, then I have to agree with fshgrl that you need to try to make this work more before detonating the nuclear option (Animal Control). Is there a fence of any kind? Would your neighbor be amenable to a play-pen sort of situation?

I'm no fan of unleashed dogs, and I think your neighbor is probably an idiot, but depending on how your yard and duplex are structured, you might be able to work something out.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:59 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I agree that I wasn't clear because I did not ask outright when I first spoke to him. But I asking the landlord should have been at least one notification.

To clarify: you want dogs leashed in a shared yard because your own dogs have leash aggression issues and it would make your life easier?

Just to be clear, it is an unfenced yard and I don't hang out in it. I only am there when I take the dogs out - maybe five minutes total each day. I otherwise take them on walks. I don't expect anyone to alter their life for me. I know the onus is on me because my dogs are fearful. I will stay out of everyone's way whenever possible (which is why I take it upon myself to go in when he lets the dogs out, instead of expecting that he goes in). But if I am already outside and he opens his door at the top his dogs run out and are down the stairs and in the yard before I even can get a chance to go in. I've had his dog standing in front of the stairs to go in before and had to ask him to call his dog over so I could get my dogs inside.

I'm not sure what more I could do to avoid the situation? I don't go out there if he is out there. If I am already out there and he lets the dogs run out, the dogs are going to confront each other before I can get inside.
posted by and hey Charlie at 12:02 PM on July 12, 2012

If the dogs are non-aggressive I don't think Animal Control coming out once is "the nuclear option". It would probably just generate a warning - maybe a fine. But it should stop the neighbor from letting the dogs out unleashed. Then maybe he can work out something with the poster - "Hey if I make sure you are not in the yard before I let my dogs out unleashed, will you not call animal control?" (Not saying you should necessarily agree to this, just using it as an example)
posted by mikepop at 12:04 PM on July 12, 2012

IME, Animal Control will NOT immediately confiscate off-leash dogs if they know who the owner is. They will come lecture the owner and see if there's anything they can do to keep these dogs on-leash.

I know this because I call about off-leash dogs all the time, if I know who the owner is. My dog isn't particularly fearful of other dogs, but they are still a nuisance and it's incredibly unsafe (for themselves!) for them to be running around.
posted by muddgirl at 12:06 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Call animal control for the sake of your neighbor's dogs. If you really feel you need to, you can tell your landlord or the neighbor directly that the neighbor's dogs need to be leashed when outdoors since there is no fence or you will call animal control. Just make sure you get an idea of what would happen to the dogs once animal control gets involved. Does the owner get a citation, do the dogs get taken away put in the pound, or do they get destroyed? If it's either of the first two, the dogs will probably be better off if animal control gets involved. If it's the last option, I would find some other solution.

Leash laws and fences are as much about protecting dogs and protecting humans.

The issues between his dogs and yours are almost secondary.

To tackle that issue, I think you need to be clear an explicit about what you're asking. Tell him, "One of my dogs came from a rescue and has leash aggression issues. I'm trying to rehabilitate them but I can't when your dogs are around him off-leash."

Could you take all of the dogs to an off-leash dog park nearby so they can get to know each other and maybe it won't be an issue anymore?
posted by VTX at 12:06 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

(I should note that if I haven't seen the dog before and I know who the owner is or they have a tag, I call that person directly. But there are a few people in my neighborhood who think it's acceptable to just let their dogs out the front door.)
posted by muddgirl at 12:07 PM on July 12, 2012

Assuming you are right and being reasonable, it will not matter. He has proven he is not changing or at best will accommodate when it fits his life. Otherwise he is going to do whatever he thinks is ok with his dogs. Calling animal control will get a short term change in behaviour just as having the landlord talk to him did.

There is no good solution until such time as you move.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:08 PM on July 12, 2012

I know you shouldnt have to but what about buying some dog bags and taking your dogs out the front (or back) door and up the street for a walk for 5 minutes. This way if he lets his dogs out they have to follow you to be a nuisance. Chances are you will run into them less that way. Its only for a few months hopefully.
posted by Busmick at 12:10 PM on July 12, 2012

I agree that I wasn't clear because I did not ask outright when I first spoke to him. But I asking the landlord should have been at least one notification.

The landlord may have just humoured you and not said a word to the neighbour. Is there any reason why you can't just ask the neighbour directly to leash his dogs? You're making an awful lot of assumptions about why this guy is "refusing" to do something that you have never directly asked him to do. Making vague hints about your dogs being scared is not asking.
posted by randomnity at 12:19 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are asking your neighbor to guess about what you specifically need and expecting the landlord to translate your needs to the neighbor for you is unrealistic.

You need to talk to the neighbor. Not as a confrontation. But asking for a VERY SPECIFIC favor. And the favor is, if he see's that you are in the yard with your dogs while they are doing their business, to wait until you have left the yard to release his dogs or to ask you to remove your dogs before he lets his dogs outside. Because you are training them and you need to be able to quickly remove your dogs from situations where unleashed dogs will approach them.


As a neighbor, I would be more annoyed about having to guess about exactly what you are asking and why than extending this small courtesy to you. Especially if you aren't with your dogs in the yard for as long as you explain (5 minutes, fine, I'll keep my dogs in. Thirty minutes, not so much.)
posted by jeanmari at 12:21 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

As an owner of a reactive rescue dog that tended to fear bite when we first got him, I can sympathize completely with your situation and people not understanding what you are trying to do, I have found a water pistol a very effective method of keeping unrestrained dogs away from my dog.

Take a water pistol with you and squirt his dogs full on in the face as they run up to yours, his dogs will soon learn to leave you and your dogs alone. It doesn't hurt the dogs in anyway but I've yet to meet a dog that likes it. If the owner doesn't like you squirting the dogs you can restate your "I need to keep your dogs away from my dog." situation and if he doesn't like it he can do something about it, like leash them or check if you are around before letting them out.

I do think if the landlord is Ok with them being unleashed in a communal garden then there isn't much else you can do, it seems to me the owner doesn't realise that your dogs are scared because he thinks of his dogs as friendly so he can't see the problem.

If his dogs are running loose on roads and in public areas then I think calling animal control is a reasonable solution.
posted by wwax at 12:21 PM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

From what you've said, he isn't breaking his lease, and as long as the dogs are on private property, he is very likely not breaking any leash laws but you'll have to read the local ordinance as it pertains to unfenced property.

But to be honest with you, it sounds like you had an unleashed exchange three months ago, and he's been more considerate of his dogs every single day since then until today. Unless I am reading this wrong, I'm not sure why you're so pissed off. And that could have been an oversight or an accident or he may just have forgotten. This seems like pretty good stats from a neighbour under zero obligation to cater to your request.

Remind him again, in a really friendly way, and bide your time until you move.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:23 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I know the onus is on me because my dogs are fearful.

No, the onus is on him to leash his dogs in a city with a leash law. It has nothing to do with your dogs' reaction to his dogs.

You are walking on eggshells that you placed all over your own yard. You want to avoid conflict but your refusal to engage the neighbor (and the landlord) directly have exacerbated the problem.

Passive-aggressive is not calling animal control when you have already talked to the guy and the landlord. Passive-aggressive is wanting the guy to leash his dogs but only hinting about it so as to avoid conflict, and hoping he will read your mind and do the thing you didn't ask him outright to do. Passive-aggressive is picking up your dogs and going inside in a huff because his dogs are out off-leash again, and thinking about calling animal control but not saying to the guy "leash your damn dogs or I'll call animal control." In general, passive-aggressive is not taking action, not being clear, expecting somebody else to figure out what you want done and do it for you.
posted by headnsouth at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]

The beginning of that last paragraph isn't clear. It's not passive-aggressive to call animal control after dealing directly with the guy, and involving the landlord directly, and having his dogs remain off-leash.
posted by headnsouth at 12:47 PM on July 12, 2012

Best answer: I have a really hard time dealing with inconsiderate people, and it seems like your neighbor fits that bill perfectly. Like you, I am not very confrontational at all, and have a real problem standing up for myself when it comes to stuff like this (even when it comes to my dogs which I am very protective of)

I disagree when people say you can't expect others to compensate for you if your dogs have leash aggression but his don't. This is something that can be serious for his dogs too, even if they are super friendly there is no guarantee that one of them couldn't snap if your dog showed aggression first. I had a terrifying experience at the dog park with my dog that was a very similar to this. Really it is for both your dogs protection and his, especially if his dogs are gallivanting through the neighborhood.

Yes it would be nice if you could have some non-territorial bonding between the dogs, at a neutral location like the park, but from what it sounds like with this neighbor, that won't exactly be an option.

I've called Animal Control on my neighbor before, and I'm pretty sure he would have known it was me. He left his dogs out all day and all night most of the time, and even though the yard was fenced in they barked constantly out of boredom (they were Blue Heelers, so way to smart and energetic to be left alone outside all day long with no stimulation). It was annoying all the time, but one day one of the dogs was crying out for a good 15-20 minutes and the neighbor never came out to check that everything was alright. I would have climbed the fence, but these dogs also seemed to have some aggression issues, and I was a little scared to do that.

All that to say... I wouldn't care if he knew it was me at this point. Next time I saw those dogs running around I would call Animal Control. If he confronts you about it, I would site the leash law, and the fact that his dog was almost hit by your friend and you imagine that is a common occurrence so you did it to protect his dogs.
posted by Quincy at 12:52 PM on July 12, 2012

Take a water pistol with you and squirt his dogs full on in the face as they run up to yours, his dogs will soon learn to leave you and your dogs alone.

...or they might bite you.
posted by goethean at 12:55 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not passive-aggressive to contact your landlord about another tenant. Ideally, having an intermediary is the best way.

For example, I once asked a guy to quit smoking on the patio of a coffee shop (it's all non-smoking) and he told me to fuck off. So it becomes a test of wills.

Neighbour-to-neighbour conflicts can become very, very nasty. With assholes like your neighbour, it's better to not even interact with them.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:56 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay, I mostly wanted an outside opinion to see if I was overreacting and I think it may be that I am. Fair enough.

To clear up a few things:

I guess I thought it was more clear to him the first few times I spoke to him, which is why I went to the landlord the second time. If he would have said his dogs were scared of mine, I would make an effort to keep my dogs away from his just out of consideration. I see now that I need to ask explicitly.

My dogs don't bark when I am home except when someone is at the door (rare). I don't know if they bark during the day as I'm not home and neither is he, but I do keep them away from things like open windows so they can't see outside. The are confined to a side of the house where the windows are closed and shades are down so they won't see or hear things that might make them bark.

There is a leash law in my city, which includes unfenced yards. Our yard is not in the back or hidden. It is in the front of the house leading directly onto the sidewalk and the street.
posted by and hey Charlie at 12:59 PM on July 12, 2012

Call Animal Control, not because the dogs are bothering you, but because this is a resonabley frequent occurance and if nothing else, your call can be logged. If in the future a BAD THING happens, your call will be there for all the world to view. Call every time you see it happen. It needn't be a big deal. Just say, "My neighbor's dogs are out without leashes." That's it, add no editorial. Just the facts m'am.

If you do run into the neighbor again, when his dog are out, reassert your request. "Please don't let your dogs out unleashed, I can't predict how my dogs will react." Don't go into a big song and dance about your furr-babies. He don't care.

Keep calling Animal Control, keep asking the neighbor to leash his dogs. At some point, this idiot will get it through his head that to avoid the hassle, a leash is the right answer.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:06 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't think you can count on the fact that your message got through the first time. You sort of soft-pedaled the issue to your landlord, and the odds are strong that he further soft-pedaled it to the neighbor. No one realizes how important this issue is to you, or how upset it's making you.
posted by hermitosis at 1:10 PM on July 12, 2012

Best answer: I guess I thought it was more clear to him the first few times I spoke to him, which is why I went to the landlord the second time. If he would have said his dogs were scared of mine, I would make an effort to keep my dogs away from his just out of consideration. I see now that I need to ask explicitly.

One of the big things I have learned in my time at Ask MetaFilter is that there is a huge range of interpretation when it comes to things like this. It's not that you weren't clear enough, it's just that your interpretations of what constitutes a clear request may differ.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:13 PM on July 12, 2012

BTW... I do not think that you are overacting. You rearranged your set up because your dogs were causing an inconvenience to him as a courtesy. I would expect him to do the same.
posted by Quincy at 1:16 PM on July 12, 2012

I don't know if they bark during the day as I'm not home and neither is he, but I do keep them away from things like open windows so they can't see outside. The are confined to a side of the house where the windows are closed and shades are down so they won't see or hear things that might make them bark.

Not trying to belabor it, because it's not clear from your initial post how much he cares, but although you say neither he nor you is home during the day, he was bugged enough by it to mention it to you that they bark when you're not there. And unfortunately, dogs I've known have been perfectly capable of barking for any one of a number of reasons even with windows closed and shades down. Again, it's not that he's right, and not that you're not right, it's just something I wanted to make sure you thought through.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:18 PM on July 12, 2012

Best answer: If the dogs were kept in for a couple months, and only let out once recently, it ould have been an oversight. However, if it happens again, don't screw around with your neighbor. You've talked to him and you've talked to the landlord--I wouldn't bother doing it again--sounds like a case of nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse. What he's doing is illegal as well as inconsiderate. I'm sure you don't really want to watch his dogs get into a fight or get hit by a car. Call animal control and ask them to patrol your area.

Good on you for training your dogs and trying to control the barking issue!
posted by BlueHorse at 1:22 PM on July 12, 2012

If you'd like to make sure your dogs aren't barking during the day, you might want to set up some type of recording device. Turning the radio on softly might go along with the baby gates and closed curtains.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:24 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Other people have outlined your options in responding to your neighbor, but I wanted to point this out: your dogs' behavior might not be as out of line as you think it is. When one dog is leashed and another is unleashed, there is a power discrepancy between them that often results in barking, baring of teeth or biting. The off-leash dog has the power in this encounter, since he has the option of if and how to approach the leashed dog. The leashed dog is at a disadvantage because he can't control anything but his body language. This is why having leashed dogs in an off-leash dog park usually causes problems. Once you're aware of the dynamic, it's easy to observe.

By all means, train and practice with your dogs! But your dogs may not be as dysfunctional as you think they are.
posted by workerant at 1:39 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I just want to make another favored note for calling Animal Control. Neither the OP nor the OP's dogs are "special snowflakes" for wanting these dogs leashed in an unenclosed yard.

When a very excitable dog runs up to someone else's dogs, that's a way for dogs to get bitten. Loose dogs are also a way to frighten (or even physically wound) children, frighten people who are understandably anti-dog, ruin flower beds, get poop in someone's yard, and be a general nuisance.

And bless you if you let your dogs loose in places out in the country, which are seen as dangers to livestock (especially chickens). There are people out there that subscribe to the "Shoot it, bury it, forget about it", whether that includes wild predators OR your "outside" dogs and cats.

So, commending the OP for trying to deal with this as congenially as possible at first. In some places, those dogs would never have been seen again.
posted by DisreputableDog at 2:13 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Here's the problem - you're looking at this from the wrong direction.

In your favor: If, as you say, the yard is unfenced and there are leash laws, just tell your neighbor you will have to call Animal Control. Express it as a concern for the dogs and tell him what almost happened.

Against your favor: It's his yard too. As long as his dogs are not causing damage and he is using the yard in accordance with the lease (and the landlord being willing to hear your complaint does not speak to the lease agreement), you really don't have a right to complain about how he's using the yard. If your dogs are so skittish they can't handle dogs off-lease then you should carry them past the yard to road. I understand it's a pain, but you said it yourself - the special circumstances are due to YOUR dogs. If this is an issue, when you move you should be clear with the next landlord that tenants should not be allowed to have dogs off-leash.

The reason I bring this up is that if the yard ever becomes fenced, you can't talk about your special snowflake dogs.

I get weirded out by dogs not on leashes. I once lived in a town where people just let their dogs roam around. The first time I returned a dog to its owner they got mad at me for interrupting dinner and just returned it to the backyard....the one with the gate still wide I know where you're coming from.... but you can't gripe about simple (again, non-damaging) use of a shared yard.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 3:03 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are not overreacting. Your neighbor is breaking a leash law that applies to everyone and causing a dangerous situation for his animals and for others. Calling Animal Control is the sensible option. This is not about being neighborly--this is about safety.
posted by anonnymoose at 3:11 PM on July 12, 2012

Btw, I am not a lawyer, etc.
posted by anonnymoose at 3:12 PM on July 12, 2012

Everyone is ignoring my suggestion to introduce the dogs properly, off leash and in a neutral area so they become friends and problem is solved. This is the FIRST thing any sensible animal person is going to do in this case. If you refuse to try this then you should acknowledge that you are dealing primarily with your dislike of the neighbor and not your dogs behavior issue.

Again this is a common problem, with a simple, easy, well-known solution that everyone who owns a dog knows about. And you are not considering it as an option. You hate the neighbor, we get it, but getting Animal Control involved is way over the top at this point. Also leaves you open to retaliation and YOUR dog OS the aggressive one. Think if you want to go there.
posted by fshgrl at 3:34 PM on July 12, 2012

Best answer: Unrestrained dogs are a danger to themselves. The OP does not have a responsibility to befriend these or any other unrestrained dogs.
posted by muddgirl at 4:05 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

They share a yard so I disagree
posted by fshgrl at 4:10 PM on July 12, 2012

They share an unfenced front yard where they are legally required to be on a leash.
posted by muddgirl at 4:19 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

You should explicitly ask your neighbor to keep his dogs leashed. Just be matter-of-fact and vaguely pleasant (no scowling) and say "Neighbor, I really need you to keep your dogs leashed in the yard. There's a leash law."

"My dogs get scared" is not telling your neighbor that you expect his dogs to be leashed. It's just a random fact about your dogs.
posted by desuetude at 4:43 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We will not be going to a dog park together for a few reasons. One of the reasons (but the least compelling) is that I am not fond of my neighbor.

But there are two other reasons, which come before my feelings about the neighbor. First, my dog that has the problems is scared of other dogs on or off leash. I do feel that as a responsible dog owner, I should not take a dog to the dog park if there is a chance that the dog will snap or snarl at other dogs. I know that dogs are unpredictable, but it is my understanding that dog parks should be for dogs that can generally play nice with each other. My dog has gotten much better as I've been working with him, but I don't feel like he is ready for a dog park where there are always lots of loose dogs running around (as at the dog parks in my city), many of which will run up to my dog, causing him to get defensive and scared. He's never shown any sign of aggression but I do not want to put him in a situation where he might hurt another dog or even a person.

Second, there is a leash law in this city which says you must have your dog leashed at all times in any unfenced area, including private property. I know this because I met a person who worked at animal control a while back and I asked because I wasn't sure.

I really don't care if he wants to keep his dogs off leash all the time everywhere. I only care if it somehow affects either me or my dogs. Before I posted this question, I kind of was of the opinion that (leaving aside my unclear communication which I acknowledge) it is not unreasonable to request that he either leash his dogs (i.e. follow the law) if he's going to bring his dogs around mine or wait until I go inside before he lets his dogs out to run free. I mean, if my dogs weren't scared is it okay for him to not leash his dogs even though the law says so? It wouldn't matter to me, because people can do whatever they want, but this was affecting me negatively.

If he were to bring his dogs out on leashes, there would be no problem because I could lead my dogs to a different area or walk away which I can not do now because his dogs follow mine.
posted by and hey Charlie at 4:45 PM on July 12, 2012

Best answer: You are NOT overreacting! I cannot walk my dogs in my neighborhood much of the time because of inconsiderate dickbags who leave their dogs off-leash in an area with leash laws. Call Animal Control or the police, that is what they are there for - the guy is not only breaking the law, he is endangering his dogs, your dogs, and any other dogs around, he is endangering people, cars and all kinds of other things and he is breaking the law in a very public and inconsiderate way. The fact that your dogs react is neither here nor there (most dogs will react if they are on-leash and an off-leash dog runs up to them), you and your dogs should not have to interact with these dogs unless you choose to, even if the dogs were all happy to interact, you don't know their medical history and he doesn't know your dogs' medical history, what if one has kennel cough or another communicable disease?

It is NOT unreasonable to expect someone to have some basic courtesy and consideration for the fact that not everyone wants to deal with his dogs. YOUR dogs should not have to deal with other dogs running up to them off-leash and interacting with them unless you want them to. YOUR dogs are being properly managed, this asshole's dogs are not. Ask him outright to control them properly (and this means a leash or a fence, and yell "GET YOUR DOGS!" to him if they are running at your dogs), and the next time he doesn't, call Animal Control. I hate this sort of nonsense, my dogs have been nearly attacked by off-leash dogs several times, I should not have to deal with other people's pets unless I choose to (and I am one of the biggest crazy dog ladies you will ever come across).
posted by biscotti at 5:11 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You are entirely within your rights to first request and then require through your landlord and Animal Control (if he's not amenable to the request) to have his dogs on leash at all times. There are leash laws for bloody good reasons; the fact that yours might be fearful is not actually a factor and not something you should consider a special circumstance. Your neighbor needs to be in compliance with the law, full stop.

Many dogs have bad to atrocious manners toward other dogs because they went home as puppies and never got the full benefit of living 24/7 with other dogs as they developed. The point above of unequal ground between dogs meeting when one isn't on leash and one is is very true. Fshgrl's recommendation of the dog's becoming "friends" does not ameliorate the high level of difficulty of encounters between on-leash dogs and off-leash for most dogs.

The classic behavioral essay on this is Suzanne Clothier's, He Just Wants To Say "Hi!". It should be required reading for every dog owner.

Dogs in Need of Space (DINOS on Facebook) is also a resource well worth a read.

It sounds to me that you are managing your dogs very well, and need someple compliance with the law to keep everyone safe. I know how stressful getting that can be, but I hope you successfully pursue it. Leash laws need to be taken seriously, since they are a safety issue for people, even those without dogs, and for the dogs themselves.
posted by vers at 5:12 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

You haven't been firm enough.

Landlord, neighbor has dogs that are routinely allowed to run unleashed. Please enforce the law. It would be so much better if you enforced it instead of Animal Control. thank you.

I let my (small, harmless, but tries to act badass) dog run free at night when many other dog-owners in my backwater neighborhood do the same. Is there any chance Bad Owner could be encouraged to adopt a schedule for his beasties, so you could be safe and mellow? Any resolution has to come from the landlord, has to be enforced, and has to accommodate your dogs.
posted by theora55 at 5:38 PM on July 12, 2012

This is not an answer for your neighbor, but you usually can command the other dogs to stay away. When they come running up stand in front of your dogs, and as firmly and deep voiced loudly as you can, tell them no.

I have done this with very scary looking dogs and am always surprised that it works.

Look at it as not being able to speak to the owner and get results, but being able to speak to the dogs directly and get results. All dogs are trainable, no one said they had to belong to you to be able to do it.

Also, that is a way to make your dogs feel safer, knowing you are their protector.
posted by Vaike at 5:57 PM on July 12, 2012

Yeah, I'm clearly in the minority here, but from your question it seems that after you talked to him/the landlord, he's only let the dogs out when you're out in the yard once in the last 2-3 months? This does not seem like in-your-face lack of consideration to me, it seems like several months of good faith effort followed by an oversight of some sort.

I mean, especially when you're not even sure if your dogs are barking all day long in a duplex? I'm not sure there's only one inconsiderate dog owner in this picture.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:16 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

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