When do you become "the neighbor with the barking dog"?
May 6, 2013 9:21 AM   Subscribe

When we first got our dog, Brandy, we didn't even know she *could* bark because she never barked. Now that she's come to realize this is her forever home, she's bound and determined to let everyone and anyone know it, so she barks at everything.

My dog Brandy has over time become quite territorial and will bark when our surrounding neighbors come into their back yards. We have a four-foot concrete block wall on three sides, so they're quite visible. We do plan to put up a privacy fence in the future, but it's not in our budget right now...

Anyway, she'll also bark when someone comes to the door, when someone pulls up to our next door neighbors' driveways, when the garbage truck comes by, when the mailman delivers the mail, etc...

However, her barking doesn't last more than a couple of minutes each time. For example, if the neighbors go into their back yard, she'll rush the wall with a burst of barking (barkbarkbarkbarkbark) then come back to the house and follow with about three minutes of intermittent barking (bark......bark......bark....bark) when she realizes they're not coming into her yard, then she's done. She never tries to go over the wall, she just goes up to about a foot of the wall. Just let them know they're too close to her space.

Let a cat stroll across the wall though... well, she's a dog. That's when she tries to get over the wall and it's a barrage of barking for as long as the cat is on the wall. And some cats like to sit up there and taunt her. I'm home most of the day, so if she barks more than five minutes, I'll bring her in.

She also barks at anything that moves in the night, and we have a huge back yard that isn't well lit, so... a lot of things move in the night. Sigh. We try to not let her bark very much -- less than a minute -- at night.

Our other dog, Cocoa, doesn't bark at hardly at all. But neither did Brandy when we first got her, so I'm thinking he's just biding his time.

The thing is, I don't want to be the "neighbor with that barking dog". But dogs bark. That's what they do. I'm so not going to punish her for barking. It's her yard, she wants to protect it and defend it. So, I'm asking, how much barking is too much barking? When does it become excessive? Am I over thinking this? When should I be concerned about the neighbors?
posted by patheral to Pets & Animals (68 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Response by poster: Yeah, I read that question, but my question isn't about how to quiet my dog down. She's pretty well trained, it's a little different.
posted by patheral at 9:31 AM on May 6, 2013

Dogs bark. I generally assume people will say something if it bothers them a lot. If you're worried it's bothering them a little, then you should just be neighborly and ask them if they've been bothered. Of course, then you have to be prepared to do something about it if they are in fact bothered.

As always, working with a professional trainer is highly recommended.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:34 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

How much exercise do your dogs get? Is it possible that Brandy needs more exercise than she's getting? In my experience, a lot of barking problems are related to boredom and excess energy than territorialism. One of my dogs will bark at night sometimes, and it's closely related to the number of walks we've skipped recently.

In regards to barking outside, specifically: the yard doesn't belong to my dogs. It belongs to me. It's my job to determine who's allowed there and who isn't. If my dogs start barking outside, they come inside immediately. That's been pretty effective at solving the "barking outside" problem.
posted by muddgirl at 9:34 AM on May 6, 2013 [10 favorites]

As your neighbor, I would find it pretty irritating to have to endure five minutes of a barking dog every time I wanted to use my own backyard. Probably to the point where I would (politely) ask you to do something about it and contact someone in authority if you chose not to.

Add into that the fact that your dog barks for all of the other reasons you describe, and you're already "that neighbor with the barking dog".
posted by DWRoelands at 9:35 AM on May 6, 2013 [41 favorites]

There isn't a universal answer to this; what your neighbors can happily tolerate depends on your neighbors' specific tolerances. That said, it would depend for me on how often it happens, how long it lasts, and how far apart the houses are. I live in a dense suburb, so when an immediate neighbor's dog barks, it may as well be inside my living room. We never allow our dog to be outside and barking for any length of time -- not one minute at night or five during the day. If she barks even once, she is immediately called inside to settle down. We have a neighbor whose dog is outside 24/7, and howls for a minute or so whenever it hears sirens, which is typically once or twice a day. That's not a big deal to me.

I am wondering how much exercise Brandy gets. Do you have access to a dog park where she could run around, burn off steam and be socialized with other dogs and people a few times a week? My experience suggests that bored dogs with excess energy are especially difficult. On preview, what muddgirl wrote.
posted by jon1270 at 9:36 AM on May 6, 2013

Ask the neighbors if the dog's barking is a serious problem for them. My neighbors have a new dog that barks for lengthy periods, and as soon as the windows start staying open, it's likely going to be an issue. If they asked me about it, I'd be really appreciative.
posted by theora55 at 9:37 AM on May 6, 2013

Dogs bark. I generally assume people will say something if it bothers them a lot.

I don't know anyone who doesn't hate barking dogs, but I know lots of people who won't say anything.

Add into that the fact that your dog barks for all of the other reasons you describe, and you're already "that neighbor with the barking dog".

Yes. Get a bark collar.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:39 AM on May 6, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: It's her yard, she wants to protect it and defend it.

Actually, it's your yard, and if you were protecting and defending it like a pack leader she wouldn't have to.

That's the tack our trainer has us take with our barker. It is very slow going, and annoying as shit because one of the humans has to go over to the source of irritation and make a show of "I got this, I'm in charge, I'll do the barking if barking needs to be done."

But it works.

Our dog is completely addicted to the drama, and we can't stop her completely but we can cut it down to a few seconds in most cases. I cannot get up 40 bajillion times to go to the fence and be the big dog, so we are working on training her to come sit by me (I sit outside or near the back door most of the day when I'm home) when some horrible event happens like people existing nearby. I have a handful of treat bits on the table, and I will call her over to sit periodically when nothing is happening, and then I will do it when I hear a neighbor's garage door open or whatever. About half of those times, I can get her to come sit before she gets riled up, and the other times she'll only bark a few times and then come to me.

I don't know if I'm ever going to get her to stop trying to claw her way out the window when the mailman comes, but if I just go in the room with her she tries really hard to be good and not bark. Trying to be good is not her general MO, so I'm impressed.

Part of my trainer's training, incidentally, was to be suuuuuper chill about checking out whatever disturbance is going on. It makes a difference, because if I charge over there pissed off at the dog or angry about the noise, she I think reads that as encouragement. If I walk over all "I don't even hear anything and have no idea what you're on about? Oh that? Bo-ring." she disengages and walks away before I even get there.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:39 AM on May 6, 2013 [15 favorites]

It's not clear to me but does your dog stay outside all day & all night? If so, can she come inside and maybe remove the option of barking all the live long day out there?
posted by dukes909 at 9:39 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think there's space between "I'm so not going to punish her for barking" and training Brandy not to bark so much.

As a homeowner, I would be somewhat annoyed if my neighbor's dog barked for "less than a minute" more than once a night, or even once every night. When I'm asleep, I can't set my brain to wait 60 seconds for a noise to die down before waking me up. On the other hand, my house is a couple of time zones away from yours, and I don't know your neighbors. If they don't care, then let Brandy bark.

In that vein, there may well be noise ordinances in your local community that specifically address barking dogs. Check them, both to know whether you're exceeding them and so you can tell your neighbors that you're not, if they complain.
posted by Etrigan at 9:40 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Some dogs don't do well outside unsupervised. I get the impression that Brandy is outside in a fenced in yard without you. I would keep her inside with you and accompany her into the back yard each time she needs to go out and see how her barking is after doing this for a little while.

Letting her bark for five minute increments is just too long if you're in a neighborhood with homes nearby.
posted by crankylex at 9:41 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Dogs bark, sure, but it's not punishment to train your dog to not feel it has to defend its space from familiar neighbors every time the neighbors go outside in their own backyard.

If you're not doing anything to keep your dog from barking at people minding their own business in their own yards, then you are the neighbor with the barking dog. The fact that you're asking about the neighbors shows that you know your dog is crossing the line.

It's not easy (or advisable) to train a dog to completely stop barking, but it is pretty easy if you're consistent to train a dog to limit its barking in regular, predictable interactions like seeing neighbors who live there. A few barks of greeting, and then that's enough.
posted by headnsouth at 9:41 AM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Well, I guess you can't really know your neighbors' tolerance for barking dogs if they haven't said anything and you haven't asked. For me it would be very unpleasant to be accosted by a barrage of loud barking every time I went in my backyard or had visitors. And five full minutes of barking sounds interminable to me, so yes, I'd be unhappy. Two of my adjacent neighbors have dogs that rarely bark; perhaps the dogs are exceptionally well behaved but that is my point of comparison.
posted by JenMarie at 9:42 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

My upstairs neighbor has family who sometimes visit with their small, very barky dog, which reliably has outbursts of 20 or 30 seconds anytime anyone in the building opens the front or side door. And even that is infuriating. If they lasted five minutes I'd be thinking of vigilante justice.

Again, I'm not your neighbors, but it's a data point.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:44 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It's not clear to me but does your dog stay outside all day & all night? If so, can she come inside and maybe remove the option of barking all the live long day out there?
posted by dukes909 at 11:39 AM on May 6 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]

They're not outside 24/7, but they do need to go outside to answer the call of nature and to run and play. They're mostly inside actually. I think they go outside, altogether, for four to five hours a day. Unless we're gone for more than five hours, then they're outside with access to the enclosed porch/sun room for shelter.

As for exercise, I'm disabled, so I can't walk Brandy every day (she's a cattle dog mix) but I do take them to the dog park at least four times a week. On the days I don't take them to the dog park, I walk her about a mile, sometimes two. But it's slow going, so I don't know if our walks are helping her, but it's better than nothing, right? I also play fetch with them and we play a lot inside, so I try to keep her mentally entertained as much as possible.

Anyway, I'm looking into getting a treadmill because soon I won't be able to be out in the burning hot New Mexico sun at all for walks.
posted by patheral at 9:47 AM on May 6, 2013

Dogs bark. I generally assume people will say something if it bothers them a lot.

Completely not true. I have never said anything to our across the hall neighbours in my building who have a barky pitbull. It's not that I don't mind the barking. I really do. It's that I know how bad things can get in an apartment if someone inconsiderate to start with wants to be passive aggressive about noise.

I applaud for you being considerate enough to realize this may be a problem for them.
posted by srboisvert at 9:48 AM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

I had a neighbor complain years ago, so I used one of those battery-powered sensor collars that delivers a light zap to the dog after a certain number of barks in a row. Within a few days the endless compulsive barking was gone. Lots of people believe those collars are inhumane, but I didn't have the time for any elaborate training work. It did the job, neighbors were pleased and the dog, who was about 2 then, lived a happy 17+ years, during which he did plenty of barking, just not incessantly.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:48 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm a huge dog person, but if you were my neighbor and I didn't really know you, I would probably be a little annoyed if I couldn't go out to my own yard without getting barked at for several minutes - IF it seemed like you were just ignoring it or leaving it to be my problem. If I were on good terms with you or if I could see/hear you working on the matter, it would be a lot easier for me to deal with it. It's sort of like anything else - have you ever noticed how some behavior can come across as quirky or at least fondly tolerable in a person you already have a good opinion of, yet in someone you dislike the same behavior can be like nails on a chalkboard (or EVEN MORE PROOF of what a JERKASS JERKY JERKFACE that person is)?

So to make it clear that you're not just leaving this to be their problem, I think you should talk to your neighbors and just see how they're feeling. You are right in not being willing to punish your dog for her behavior (and I would advise against the bark collar for that reason), but there are probably things you can do from a positive reinforcement-based perspective that would help. The "train 'Quiet' through rewards" or else "train to bark only on command" techniques in this article (found in the other thread Etrigan linked to) would probably be helpful; even if you don't succeed in getting it 100% under control, as your neighbor I would REALLY appreciate knowing that you were doing something to try to address the situation.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:49 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

If your dog is barking when your neighbors go into their own yard, you are already the neighbor with the barking dog. Your neighbors have a right to expect quiet at night and a right to be comfortable on their own property at all hours (though not necessarily quiet).

So, don't allow the dog to bark any louder at night than you would be willing to play your stereo at the same volume. And don't allow your dog to bark at the neighbors in their yard. At all.

It's not the dog's yard, it's your yard.

FWIW, I've had dogs with separation anxiety that barked constantly during the day. I know it's hard to be in that position as an owner. Kongs helped to keep them distracted.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:50 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I shouldn't be able to hear your dog between the hours of 10:00 PM and 8:00 AM on weekdays. I'd like that for weekends too, but pooches have to pee.

Our across the street neighbors rescued dogs, and one of them, Ian, was a barker. If we congregated on the lawn to discuss neighborhood stuff, Ian would bark at us, as though he wanted to join the conversation. Finally, one of us would say, "Pipe down Ian!" But it wasn't keeping us up, or annoying us too much.

I guess, it's a do unto others thing. If Brandy weren't your dog, how much of that would you put up with?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:52 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It might be worth considering that your neighbor doesn't know about any of the mitigating factors you mention in your post, such as the fact she's not barked before, that your planning on building a higher wall etc. All your neighbor experiences is a loud barking dog, who barks for several minutes every time they enter their back garden, who barks sometimes for no reason, and who barks for up to a minute in the night when they're trying to sleep. For all they know she could be aggressive, and might one day jump the fence and attack them.

It's good that you're concerned about annoying your neighbors, but they don't know you're concerned, and they don't know you're trying to resolve the situation. The best thing to do would be to go and ask if it annoys them, apologize, and work on stopping her barking.
posted by DrRotcod at 9:56 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Of course you don't have to punish her - but you could train her to stop barking on command. It's something I should do with my dogs as well. I like it that they bark at intruders, but I would also like to be able to silence them with a verbal command.

I think I read the technique in Patricia McConnell's The Other End of the Leash - as soon as the dog stops barking, you say "Enough" and give them a treat. Do this for a while and then start using "Enough" before they stop barking and they get a treat if they do so.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:57 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

Working breeds like cattle dogs require not just a lot of exercise, but a lot of mental stimulation as well (this is probably true for most dogs, but more true for some breeds than others). I like the idea of training the dog to do something instead of barking, like finding you and doing a trick.
posted by muddgirl at 9:58 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I looooooove dogs. However, I think 5 minutes is too long to allow your dog to bark. To answer your question and nothing else, I think you should be concerned about the neighbors and take steps to try to get the barking under control.
posted by parakeetdog at 9:59 AM on May 6, 2013

she'll rush the wall with a burst of barking

We have a neighbor with a dog that does exactly this. There's a thing you are not seeing from the neighbor's perspective, which is that it is TERRIFYING. (And, this dog is not a breed stereotypically known for its aggression, and I am not normally afraid of dogs.) I am really concerned that the gate is going to be open sometime and the dog will hurt us. I understand that dogs are dogs, but 5 minutes of intense aggressive barking? You are the neighbor with the barking dog.

In our case, the dog doesn't ever bark for more than 5 minutes because we go inside in fewer than 5 minutes if the dog is there. And no, we haven't said anything. If the neighbor thinks its okay, telling her we disagree isn't going to change anything.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:59 AM on May 6, 2013 [9 favorites]

tchemgrrl has a good point, imagine if every time you went outside your neighbor screamed abuse at you and banged on the fence, you'd be terrified. The fact that she's a dog doesn't make it any better.
posted by DrRotcod at 10:01 AM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I guess, it's a do unto others thing. If Brandy weren't your dog, how much of that would you put up with?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:52 AM on May 6 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]

I guess I have a higher tolerance than most people. I have no problem at all with barking dogs, unless they're out there for hours and hours or they're howling and whining (because then I know their owners are neglecting them and that gets my goat).

If I go outside and a dog barks at me, I realize that's just what dogs DO and I wait for them to stop. I lived in tight quarters with people stacked on top of each other for years and years and have lived with barking dogs, loud stereos, and shrieking kids coming through my walls all my life. It's just what goes on. I block it out and move along. But this whole suburban living thing is new to me, and I've come to realize that anything that breaks the peace here is really not tolerated, so that's made me incredibly self conscious about everything.
posted by patheral at 10:02 AM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: I don't know how old Brandy is, but the shift from adolescence to full social maturity (at around 1.5-2 years old) can sometimes trigger some unwanted behavioral changes, such as increased territoriality.

I think you should stop leaving your dog unattended outside, and certainly the dog shouldn't be out there alone for much time, if any, at night. If the dogs need to go outside to do their business and to run and play, you should be out there with them, even if that means sitting on the porch with a book keeping an eye on them, or better yet, playing fetch for 15-20 minutes and then bringing them back inside. When the heat gets brutal, play games inside, then pop them outside for a 10 minute potty break. How much exercise do you think the dogs are getting outdoors when it's 95 degrees out, anyhow? They're just spending most of that time sleeping in the shade except for these 5 minute periodic barking sessions. It would be much better for their physical and mental health to exercise them in your presence a few times day than to leave them outside by themselves for 4-5 hours.

This is especially true given everything you've said about this dog in your AskMe history: you are to be commended for sticking with a dog that has some issues, but dogs with issues need to be closely monitored (so that undesirable behaviors can be addressed consistently, every time they happen) and carefully managed (so that triggers for unwanted behaviors can be minimized). This is necessary to keep their negative behaviors from escalating or creating problems for the community they live in.
posted by drlith at 10:03 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

A friend had good results by training her dog to bark on command. That also came with training to sit quietly and watch for the "bark" signal. I think you should get help from a dog behaviorist or trainer and work on it. Life will be so much more pleasant for everyone without a dog defending territory that doesn't actually belong to them.
posted by amanda at 10:04 AM on May 6, 2013

Response by poster: Also, there seems to be a misunderstanding here. I said that Brandy never barks for more than five minutes. She usually barks for about two minutes. Her initial burst is less than thirty seconds, then it's, like, a minute of intermittent barking, then she's done. If she lasts more than five minutes (for example, if a cat is out there taunting her), I bring her inside. Generally, she's done barking by the time I get to the door to ask her what she's barking at. She doesn't bark for five minutes every. single. time.
posted by patheral at 10:05 AM on May 6, 2013

Patheral - I feel for you, but as someone who has an 80 lb lug of a dog who has become quite territorial when people approach our home it's clear that no matter what we feel about it - the person on the receiving end doesn't like it. THAT's what matters.

It's bad enough that he does it when people come onto the porch but if he did that when others simply entered their own yard... I would be horrified and I would be doing everything under the sun in an effort to mitigate this behavior. It is just not acceptable.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:10 AM on May 6, 2013 [4 favorites]

Even two minutes can seem like a really long time for someone who is having to put up with it every time they go outside. None of us here can tell you whether or not your neighbors are okay with this, but hopefully enough of us are saying that it could be a problem that you'll take action of some sort. As I'd said earlier, even just knowing that you're trying to train your dog (using positive reinforcement - not yelling or other punishment) to settle down or only bark on command - and ideally, that you've spoken with me about it in a casual, friendly, over the fence sort of way - would make a HUGE difference in how I felt about you and your dog as my neighbors.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:10 AM on May 6, 2013

I'm sure you can see from the responses that others have given you that this is as big a deal as you expected. Allowing your dog to bark for more than 30 seconds to a minute is unfair to everyone around you, and that you have a higher tolerance for barking dogs does not mean that everyone else is okay with your dog barking for any length of time. And while you may not want to punish your dog for doing a natural dog thing, you are 100% responsible for curbing her behavior and really shouldn't be allowing her to indulge in her desire to bark in the way that you have been simply because you think that dogs should be able to do what dogs are naturally inclined to do. You are the Alpha dog here. When she starts barking, you gotta tell her to shush right away. Not after a minute, not after a few minutes. Right away, or as quickly as possible. I agree with the advice above about making your efforts to curb your pup's barking kind of public so your neighbors know you're working on it. I can tell you from a personal perspective that having a neighbor whose dog barks as often as you describe is really, really debilitating on the nerves, and knowing that said neighbor was really trying to get it to stop would help me view that neighbor and their dog in a much more positive light. Thank you for looking into this.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:13 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

When do you become "the neighbor with the barking dog"

If you're starting to get bothered by it, your neighbors were a while ago.

This is just the same way as parents don't really notice their own kids wailing, so they don't say anything until it bothers them. For everyone else, the crying/barking becomes annyoing as soon as it happens, whereas you have a built period of time where it's "normal" that must pass before it's a problem to you.
posted by spaltavian at 10:15 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Using a technique much like Lyn Never posted I have manged to get my 2 super barky and very reactive dogs sort of under control. My neighbours have kids, and I have managed to get them to not bark when the younger kids or their mother is out and about, even when the toddlers run around screaming/playing as toddlers are want to do. The idiot 2 teenage boys that live there are another story and the dogs throw themselves at the fence as if trying to kill them every time. I have seen these same boys egg the dogs on when they were being quiet by barking at through the fence so I let the boys bark at them.

Other than that if I hear the dogs do more than a few random woofs at something I call them in, I work from home and my desk is in a room with a door to the backyard which makes this easier. Working on a rock solid recall is great for this (I'm not there yet as terriers get super focused but I am working on it), and I believe if your neighbours know you are aware of the problem and don't let your dog bark on past the initial flurry it can help them be more accepting. Now if you know your neighbours and are concerned have a word with them, say you are sorry she barks when they come out but you are working on making sure the situation doesn't become worse. I think a lot of problems with dogs barking is you don't know if it's going to end or think the dog owners don't care.

Oh if your dog is doing a warning bark and not an aggressive bark, she is actually calling for back up from you, don't run out to her and bring her in or tell her off, as having you come out is exactly what she was wanting. Your dog sees it as I barked and my human came so barking works. Call the dog to you, make it sit and be quiet and then give it a reward, you are trying to reinforce the whole, if you see a problem come to me and I'll handle it idea.

Work on keeping your dogs in when the neighbours are likely to be out too. I am lucky as I can let my dogs out during school/work hours during the day as the neighbourhood is pretty deserted and I tend to keep them in on evenings if the neighbours are in their back yard. Also look at getting a nice big privacy fence, if nothing else it will make your neighbours feel more secure that the your dog isn't going to jump the fence and have a go at them.
posted by wwax at 10:18 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

The thing is, I don't want to be the "neighbor with that barking dog". But dogs bark. That's what they do. I'm so not going to punish her for barking. It's her yard, she wants to protect it and defend it. So, I'm asking, how much barking is too much barking?

Any. In my experience, you are mistaken in your assured conviction that "dogs bark." I live in a neighborhood with several households that own dogs, and it's exceedingly rare that I hear barking. The family that lives directly behind me has owned a dog for years and I'm not sure I've ever heard it bark. Behind them, there's another dog and again, I don't think I've ever heard it bark. In front of me and two houses down, there is a third dog. I hear that dog barking...I'd estimate, a few times a year. A fourth family recently moved away; they also owned a dog, and although I wasn't crazy about how they walked it without a leash, I never heard it bark. And we're all reasonably close.

I'm pretty sensitive to neighborhood noise. We get helicopters and low-flying planes not infrequently. One house has an alarm that sometimes goes off when the family is on vacation. But dog barking isn't something that happens. So if somebody moved a new dog into our neighborhood and suddenly insisted, "Hey, dogs bark, there's nothing I can do"...yeah, no.

I have also owned a dog. My family owns dogs. From those experiences also, I think you're wrong. "Dogs bark" simply isn't the truism you believe. But you're asking about neighbors' perspectives, so I'm just speaking from that angle here.
posted by cribcage at 10:26 AM on May 6, 2013 [8 favorites]

I have pretty severe insomnia. Some nights, I can't sleep at all, and many nights, I don't get more than a couple of hours. If I had just fallen asleep and then a dog barking woke me up, I would be incredibly pissed. If it happened frequently, I would be just this side of seriously considering violence. And I'm an animal lover and a life-long vegetarian.

Look, the bottom line is you haven't been able to keep your dog from disturbing the peace of your neighborhood. And I get that you have limitations that make it hard for you to do that. And I'm sympathetic. But having a disability and living someplace with hot weather and not being able to afford a taller fence are not factors that make it acceptable for you to inflict loud, potentially frightening, definitely irritating sounds on your neighbors on a regular basis.

Beyond that, it sounds as though your dog is seriously unhappy. I have no doubt that she loves you and you love her, but it sounds as though she is going stir crazy and she is bored or irritated or anxious a lot of the time. Dogs don't bark because it's fun; they bark because they're having emotions, sometimes including fear or anger. Barking is a symptom. For her sake, you need to find ways to deal with the underlying issues that are causing the barking.

I really think that you need to either invest seriously in training this dog properly and making sure she gets lots and lots of exercise, or you need to consider finding her a new home where someone can do those things. I know you love her, but this may not be a tenable situation for you. It's not fair to your neighbors, and it's definitely not fair to your dog, to let things continue this way.
posted by decathecting at 10:33 AM on May 6, 2013 [5 favorites]

I've owned the same house for several years, abutted by neighbors on both sides who leave their dogs outside all day/night, and those dogs will bark for 5-10 minutes every single time they see another living thing. In addition to barking whenever any adjacent homeowner exits or enters their own yard/home/vehicle, they bark whenever anyone walks down the alley, whenever someone rides their bike past the front or back of the house, whenever they hear any car whose engine sound resembles that of their owners' cars, whenever they see a stray cat or a bunny or a squirrel or a raccoon or an empty plastic bag blowing ominously in the wind.

These dogs bark non-stop because they are bored; they are bored because they are never given anything to keep them occupied. At night, I wear earplugs and put my Dohm on high, but I'm still woken up at least 1-2 times every single night because of the barking. It really wears on you after a while. I also have to keep my windows closed all summer because otherwise the barking just drills into my skull.
The relentless unexpected bursts of noise have turned my already-mega-nervous rescue dog into a hyper-stressed wreck; he won't even go outside without me anymore because the neighbor dogs viciously bark at the fence any time he wants to go potty. One of the neighbor dogs has bitten me several times, repeatedly attempted to attack me, and successfully attacked my dog once already, but the only thing the neighbors have been willing to do to solve the problem was make the fence taller (spoiler alert: their dog can still jump over the fence).

Even though the barking lasts for what you might consider a brief period of time, anything more than 30-60 seconds of barking is too much for a densely-populated residential neighborhood. When I get home after a 10-hour day at work, I have to endure non-stop barking for the duration of my walk up the alley from my car to my door, and then listen to it through the walls for up to 10 minutes afterward; if I want to go out after work, it's the same deal -- relentless barking as I walk to my car, relentless barking upon my return. Neither neighbor has cared at all when I've brought up how disruptive it is, particularly in the middle of the night. Even a few minutes of barking at 3:30 AM has the ability to both wake and keep me up for a long while -- once the dogs start barking, it's like dominos falling, and it's likely that their initial barking session will be followed by another within the half-hour because there's always something or someone skulking around our neighborhood at night.

This is all just to say, in response to "how much barking is too much barking?" -- it already is. "When does it become excessive?" It already is. "Am I over thinking this?" No, and I thank you for thinking of it at all; it's very considerate to be concerned. "When should I be concerned about the neighbors?" You already should be.
posted by divined by radio at 10:39 AM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

But dogs bark. That's what they do.
That would be a defense if you were somehow obligated to have a dog, but it doesn't seem to be the case. Why would you expect your neighbors to put up with any barking at all, even five two minutes thirty seconds?

I live in DC, and my neighbors have two very yappy terriers. I frequently resort to wearing earplugs when gardening--5 minutes of being barked at from 5 feet away is maddening. 2 minutes is too much. 30 seconds is too much. "Why did she get a dog that requires more work and attention than she is able to give it?" is what I'd be thinking about you.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:39 AM on May 6, 2013 [6 favorites]

At the risk of piling on, last house I lived in had a neighbor with a dog that sounds a lot like your canine. I'd step out on the deck--which was well above and away from the fence--to stretch and see and hear the Pacific Ocean and hear the dog barking, barking, barking.

Same thing w. the trash collectors, UPS at our house, etc.

Over two years, there were a total of six very different, though generally easy-going people who lived in that house. We all got absolutely fucking sick of it.

It went from asking nicely to asking a bit less nicely to "we're running out of patience" to calling the city and complaining.
posted by ambient2 at 10:52 AM on May 6, 2013

We have a neighbor with a dog that does exactly this. There's a thing you are not seeing from the neighbor's perspective, which is that it is TERRIFYING.

This. I love dogs, but I share a courtyard with a neighbor whose dog freaks out every time I come outside. She barks like a lunatic and flings herself against their plate glass window trying to get at me, as your dog does the fence. It's VERY ALARMING. And I am not scared of dogs...except for this one because she acts like if we are ever in the same place at the same time, she is going to try to kill me. So bear in mind that it might be more than just annoying to them.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 11:13 AM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Okay, okay. I get the picture. I'll work on her barking, and my obvious misconception that dogs should be allowed to bark when someone invades their space.

I am very aware that Brandy isn't getting enough exercise, and I'm working on that. We're looking into everything from dog walkers to treadmills. I do what I can, and she seems quite content nowadays, and other than the barking at people who come right up to the wall or door.

I'm sorry if I gave y'all the impression that she's barking all day, every day... she isn't. There are construction workers at my neighbor's house across the street, and she's doing nothing but sitting in the bay looking at them, and they're making a lot of noise. She also doesn't bark at people who walk on the sidewalk. She doesn't bark at the neighbors kids in their back yard because she can only hear them, not see them. She only barks at those neighbors she can see, or the garbage truck/mailman/people visiting neighbors when they pull up in front of the house. That's why I figured it wasn't a big deal. I see now that I'm wrong, and I'll work on it.
posted by patheral at 11:32 AM on May 6, 2013

my obvious misconception that dogs should be allowed to bark when someone invades their space.

Your neighbor is not "invading your dog's space" when they are in their own backyard.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:36 AM on May 6, 2013 [23 favorites]

Best answer: One thing you could try is to give your neighbors each a box of dog treats. Tell them that when your dog barks, have them get out the box of treats, walk to the fence and have them tell Brandy to sit. When she sits, is quiet and acting good, they should give her a biscuit.

That way, in your dog's mind, your neighbor isn't that potential threat on the other side of the fence, but rather that interesting potential giver of cookies.

We tried that method with our dog and it worked pretty well. Tho almost too well. Whenever the neighbor would come home, our dog would start whining by the fence, hoping the neighbor would come out and give him a treat.

I also second the motion that you shouldn't leave your dog outside for hours on end when you're not home. You don't know how much she barks when you're not around. The dog will be fine inside and your neighbors will appreciate the peace and quiet during those hours.
posted by kongg at 11:40 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to say that as a neighbor of multiple loud and scary dogs, the fact that you are asking and are concerned about this makes you a million times better than my uncaring neighbors. So I agree with all the others, and thank you.
posted by Think_Long at 12:00 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Your neighbor is not "invading your dog's space" when they are in their own backyard.

This is the key. The dog getting defensive over her space is understandable. But you have the power to redefine which spaces are "hers."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:04 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

My dog barks when people walk by or a cat, etc. We jump up right away and bring him in (if he doesn't shush when we tell him to). We then let him back out if he wants to go when the people have passed. (I actually had to jump up in the middle of typing this to shush him)
posted by beccaj at 12:13 PM on May 6, 2013

Huh, I'm usually not really tolerant of dogs (I practically stopped exercising because I kept getting chased by dogs that were not on a leash), but I wouldn't have any trouble at all with short periods of barking like you describe. It feels about the same like a neighbour practicing a music instrument or playing loud music while cleaning the house. Not great, but the kind of thing you put up with if you have neighbours. Barking at night would really suck though, even if only for two minutes. I don't really understand why the dog cannot be inside at night.
posted by blub at 12:26 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd always just recommend talking to the neighbors. People come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are sensitive to widely different things, esp when it comes to dogs. At the very least they will think better of you for asking about it. We live in a neighborhood with a lot of dogs (including ours) and it makes a difference. Also, even in our very dog populated area dogs barking in the night would be a big annoyance. (I am a very light sleeper and that sort of thing would bring about near instant hate if it happened more than once or twice)

Showing that you have it covered and she doesn't need to worry about it sounds like a great tactic. If/since mobility is a problem this might be an instance where you could work with a trainer. You and the trainer work with her and he can set up a safe word or sound for that is used when they have checked it out and shown that whatever the disturbance is is no big deal. Then progressively switch to you saying the word until the association is clear between the word and hey that's boring don't worry about that. Try to find a word or sound that won't be overused in regular speech. Recommending the trainer vs a friend because they are pretty good at training you too. Which often times is the most helpful feedback.
posted by Feantari at 12:27 PM on May 6, 2013

Response by poster: Another misconception... We only let the dogs out at night for potty breaks. Occasionally, Brandy will rush out, barking at something we cannot see. We immediately hush her when this happens, but it happens. Or she'll start barking at something while she's out there. This is New Mexico, there are things that roam about... like road runners, coyotes, and stray cats, etc... We can't see them because our yard is huge. We don't leave her out at all hours of the night, and we don't let her bark for hours. They have to go outside to answer the call of nature, I suppose we could start standing out there at night and wait for them to finish... but they hardly need to go at the same time, and that's a lot of standing around...
posted by patheral at 12:42 PM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: Our two dogs are on a fixed turnout schedule. This curtails the whole "OMG there's something outside, I'll signal that I need to use the potty so that I can go out and bark at it!" cycle. If they need to go out during regular neighborhood super-duper-quiet times (say, 11pm to 5am - if they have digestive issues or a UTI or something) we take them out on a leash, but our regular times are 7am, 5pm, and 10pm (with two walks on top of that). When I let them out, I'm not standing there watching their every move, but I do stick close by the door/window and make sure they're not getting into trouble.

If you have a very large yard, another possibility is to fence off a smaller portion of it to turn the dogs out in at night - this might limit barking quite a bit, plus it will be much safer for the dogs (in a coyote/pet dog fight, I wouldn't bet on the dog - even stray cats have done a lot of damage trying to escape my dogs). We installed flood lights partially to scare away animals before we let our dogs out at night.
posted by muddgirl at 12:55 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I love dogs. Really, really love them. I know they bark sometimes, I know that training a dog can be difficult. When my neighbor's dog barks for a solid minute EVERY SINGLE TIME anyone open or closes a door in the hallway of my apartment building, which is really, really irritating, I'm not annoyed at the dog, I'm annoyed at my neighbor for not doing anything to stop this behavior.

I think they go outside, altogether, for four to five hours a day. Unless we're gone for more than five hours, then they're outside with access to the enclosed porch/sun room for shelter.

If your dog is outside when you are not home, it's entirely possible she's barking for four hours straight and you have no idea. At the very least, she's having barking fits while you are not around to correct her, and your neighbors can see that you have a barking dog left alone in a yard. Another neighbor in my building used to leave their dog alone for four to five hours at a stretch. Their dog, being an extremely bored under-exercised chocolate lab, would bark for four hours straight--and my neighbors were completely clueless, and it made me absolutely miserable. It was really, really awful.

I don't think this is a suburban vs. urban thing, or an apartment vs. house thing. Us apartment dwellers don't get a free pass to be bad neighbors because we live in closer quarters. I'm also way more forgiving of things like a baby crying, a loud party, neighbors yelling, if it's not something that is occurring constantly. Stuff happens. But if it's something that's going on all the time, and my neighbors aren't doing anything to mitigate it, then they're being bad neighbors.

Obviously, you are concerned about addressing the problem and don't want to be a bad neighbor, so I think you should just talk to them. If you explain that you're aware of the problem and are trying to work on reducing the barking, you're less likely to have angry neighbors.
posted by inertia at 12:56 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: They have to go outside to answer the call of nature, I suppose we could start standing out there at night and wait for them to finish... but they hardly need to go at the same time, and that's a lot of standing around...

I have an old lab mutt and a chihuahua puppy, different bladder sizes, different bladder control, different training ... and they go out and come in together, and they hold it all night long until the puppy wakes me at 6 a.m.

They don't need to be out barking at shadows in the middle of the night to pee. It's really easy to get them to pee and poop on a schedule. This should not be an issue at all.
posted by headnsouth at 1:03 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

One thing you could try is to give your neighbors each a box of dog treats.

Please don't make training your dog your neighbors' responsibility. It puts them in a situation where if they say no, the problem becomes their fault. Not saying you would blame them, but the social pressure is definitely there, especially if you don't know each other very well.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 1:11 PM on May 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: We left our 75-lb dog in the back yard (corner lot) when we weren't home. We had one complaint from a neighbor that he pushed his out from under the fence to snap at her dog, at which point I reinforced the fence. Then he pushed some pickets aside and got out of the yard and that was it; we decided to leave him in while we're not home.

He's taken to it pretty well, actually. He doesn't mess, and he doesn't chew things (both of which surprised us). We have two other dogs; one has always crated pretty well; the other, well she's really old and although she spent most of her life outdoors while we were gone, we now leave her inside too. Sometimes the old dog will pee in the family room, but other than that, they all do pretty well.
posted by Doohickie at 1:16 PM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: Talk to your neighbors. I've lived in some neighborhoods where a dog barking even a few times was a Big Deal and people would gossip about it--yes, really--but I've also lived in one neighborhood where barking for a couple minutes a couple times a day was no big, and one where barking, any time, all the time, was generally seen as just fine, because eh, they're dogs, what can you do.

Neighborhoods seem to have a culture for this sort of thing. My current neighbors have explicitly told me not to worry if my dogs bark, and that it's a pretty loud neighborhood. They weren't wrong. I'm currently listening to the dog about three doors down bark, and he's set off the dogs across the street from him, and the wolf on the corner just settled down a few minutes ago after an hour of barking and howling. No one bats an eye. In another fifteen minutes I'm sure that they'll all settle, but right now it sounds like we live in a kennel.
posted by MeghanC at 1:30 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wonder if it depends on how well-built the houses are? If my neighbor's barky dogs are in the back yard, I can't hear it if I'm inside my house. But I can imagine a neighborhood of more cheaply-built homes (not necessarily less expensive homes! Some very nice neighborhoods do not have well-constructed homes) would be much more sensitive to neighborhood noise.
posted by muddgirl at 1:56 PM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: I have two very barky dogs.

1) Last pee of the night is done on leash, to prevent your exact scenario of charging after something in the dark and waking the neighbors. Works flawlessly.

2) I don't leave them outside unattended, because they will bark. Brandy doesn't need to be outside unattended either. She's not getting any real exercise out there anyway. She'd get more inside doing lots of physically and mentally challenging tricks. She does need to walk and run, but you can do that at the dog park. Or sit outside with her for a while.

3) If I'm outside with them and they try barking at people on the other side of the fence, I immediately calmly tell them to knock it off, and bring them inside if they don't stop. My neighbors know that I'm on it and I think that does engender some good will. Note that I don't yell at them, that would be almost as upsetting as the barking itself.
posted by HotToddy at 2:23 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Good on you for taking advice to heart.

The ideal dog never barks unless absolutely necessary to warn me of approaching velociraptors. (and then there's real dogs, *sigh.*) My idea of training is to approach the ideal of a dog that never barks or annoys people, and I work on that with the dogs I have/had, with varying degrees of success, but I will say people often ask me if they can buy my dogs or if I'll train theirs. (No. And no.) I think with the never-bark mindset, you get a dog that's less likely to be barky than if you have an expectation they will bark at things.

I've always had high energy herding breeds, and within the last couple years I've been laid up with broken bones, a knee replacement, and foot surgery. My dogs got little to no exercise during those periods, but were very content to be floor mats because I spent some time each day training them to do new tricks and perfecting the tricks they knew.

Keeping a heeler's mind busy can do just as much as exercise to keep them occupied and well behaved. There's a difference between mentally tired and physically fatigued, but a dog that is mentally tired wants to relax or sleep just as a physically fatigued dog will. If your walks are slow, then your dogs should be sharp as tacks at heeling, sitting, down, stay, come, figure 8s around you, roll over, bowing, shaking hands, etc.--all things you can do on a slow walk. Start them on their lessons at home, and then work them outside to avoid over-distraction. There are tons of tricks your dogs can learn, both at home and on walks. Heelers are great, because they want to learn and please. It makes them a better dog citizen, and it's fun. Not to mention, you get to show off what goooood doggies you have.

I don't understand the issue of the dogs out at night--mine go out at 10:30-11pm and then generally don't go out till 6-7am. If for some reason they would need to go out during the night, they go out together, do what they need to do, and then come in immediately at a whistle--I don't yell for them. No barking, and no messing around outside at night with critters or whatever. We frequently have wildlife in the yard--skunks, coyotes, fox, cats, raccoons, badgers, whatever, and we can hear the horses when they get up to hijinks, but after a 'woof' or two, I generally thank them for their advice and then they shut down. If you're attentive to them, you can tell the difference between a potty woof, a critter bark, and an OMFG Somebody Turned Around In The Driveway At Two AM! If the alert is something I need to attend to--like a stinking horse that has learned to open the gate between the pens to cause havoc with the mule, then they are allowed to accompany me to fix the problem, provided they don't raise cain.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:39 PM on May 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I suppose we could start standing out there at night and wait for them to finish... but they hardly need to go at the same time, and that's a lot of standing around...

Huh? You take them out before bed, tell them to go potty, stand there while they do, and then let them in. This should take 5 minutes tops. If it's a big yard and they'll run off out of sight, put them on leashes.

I can count on one hand the number of times my dog has barked in the last six months, and we live in a dense neighborhood with lots of other dogs (including two next door that bark in two minute bursts throughout the day - I'm at the point of confronting the neighbor about that).
posted by desjardins at 2:42 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

The next time your dog starts to bark, think back to the time before you had a dog. Then ask yourself: if this were someone else's dog, would it be a nuisance?

Great. Now, let's try that question again, but this time be honest. Really try to forget that it's your dog. If you were living next door, would it be a nuisance?

The problem is, too many people think something is annoying only until they start to do it. Then, for some odd reason, it's everybody else's job to cope. Years ago, I had a neighbor who would always complain about the teenagers down the block with the car that didn't seem to have a muffler. When he bought a huge motorcycle I remember thinking "Weren't you the guy bitching about loud cars?" Funny how it was only a problem until he became the source of the noise.

"my obvious misconception that dogs should be allowed to bark when someone invades their space."

NO. You said:

"My dog Brandy has over time become quite territorial and will bark when our surrounding neighbors come into their back yards."

That's the neighbors in THEIR space.

"Anyway, she'll also bark when someone comes to the door, when someone pulls up to our next door neighbors' driveways, when the garbage truck comes by,"

Again, you said "dogs should be allowed to bark when someone invades their space" but your dog doesn't live in the street or in the neighbors' driveways or back yards.

I hope I'm wrong, but your question and follow ups lead me to suspect that what you really want is for us to say "Nah, it's no big deal." But it is a big deal.
posted by 2oh1 at 5:30 PM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The next time your dog starts to bark, think back to the time before you had a dog. Then ask yourself: if this were someone else's dog, would it be a nuisance?

Great. Now, let's try that question again, but this time be honest. Really try to forget that it's your dog. If you were living next door, would it be a nuisance?


I hope I'm wrong, but your question and follow ups lead me to suspect that what you really want is for us to say "Nah, it's no big deal." But it is a big deal.
posted by 2oh1 at 7:30 PM on May 6 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]

Someone upthread asked me that, and I already answered that no, it would not be a nuisance. If my neighbor's dog barked as much as my dog does (or more, since she really doesn't bark that much in my opinion, and a majority of the barking she does is inside the house which the neighbors wouldn't hear at all), it would be a non-issue. Actually we have a neighbor three houses down with yappy little terriers that never seem to shut up, and I hardly ever notice them, and every other house on this block has dogs that throw themselves at their fence whenever I walk my dogs. It's not a big deal in my book. I'm not worried about three houses down or the houses down the block though, I'm concerned about my surrounding neighbors. They're the ones immediately affected by my dog.

And no, I'm not looking for validation about my dog barking. My follow-ups were to honestly try and clear up misconceptions in my poor attempts to explain the situation. She only barks at people she can see from the back yard and people who enter the front yard (or cars that pull up to the driveway like the garbage truck or the mail man). The neighbors' driveways abut our yard, so she can see them. If we had a privacy fence, I'm sure she wouldn't bark at them at all.

I truly don't want her to be a nuisance. I initially didn't think she was that big of one, yes, which is why I asked the question. However, I can see my tolerance level is higher than most, so I'm now going to work to see that she'll be come as close to a non-barker as she can be.
posted by patheral at 8:31 PM on May 6, 2013

I don't think it's an issue of your tolerance level. You talked about your dog barking at neighbors in their own yards and at cars in the street or cars pulling into other people's driveways, but then you said: "my obvious misconception that dogs should be allowed to bark when someone invades their space." Those are examples of barking without anyone invading Brandy's space. I understand feeling defensive about a loved pet, but that only helps to turn you into the neighbor with the barking dog who won't do anything about it. I'm not saying you are that person. I'm saying, the words present you as being that person. I live in a pet-friendly apartment building and I can almost always spot the pet owners who will last and who will be evicted within a year. The ones who get defensive are usually gone within 6 months because they feel like everyone's against them and their dog. They make excuses, and the noise never goes away. The ones who take active steps to solve the problem usually stick around (I'm pretty sure one guy took his dog to obedience classes or a trainer).

A privacy fence could help a lot, so it's good that you're planning on adding one. But you need to find out if she'll react to the sounds of neighbors, cars, etc, even if she can't see them.

From one animal lover to another, I wish you the best of luck.
posted by 2oh1 at 9:02 PM on May 6, 2013

Mod note: One comment deleted. OP, please don't get into a back-and-forth here, and others, if you need to reach OP about issues that are not answers to the question, please use MeMail. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:26 PM on May 6, 2013

I'm a big fan of dogs, although I don't currently have any of my own, and I live in a neighborhood where almost everyone has dogs. 90% of the time I only hear the occasional bark. Where it can become a real problem is in situations like this:
Unless we're gone for more than five hours, then they're outside with access to the enclosed porch/sun room for shelter.
Based on one or two of my neighbors that do this with their dogs... set up a tape recorder or something to record your dog once when you're gone this long. If they're occasional barkers when you're around, they're almost certainly out there barking for HOURS when you're not around. And your neighbors might not have told you for a number of reasons, including being unable to figure out which house the barking is coming from. There is one dog nearby who will bark in 5 minute bursts for 3 to 4 hours at a time. Loud enough that it travels through the walls of my house with all the doors and windows closed. But since I can't see into my neighbors' back yards, all I can tell is it's not coming from my neighbors directly behind me. I hate that dog's owners soooooo much.
posted by MsMolly at 11:19 AM on May 7, 2013

Response by poster: I talked to my neighbors this morning, and they did tell me that she is a little annoying, but not pitchforks and torches annoying. I let them know that I'm working with her to quiet her down.
posted by patheral at 1:58 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just to follow up on this. Brandy is hardly barking at all now. She's a pretty smart dog and learns fast. Just yesterday she was outside and both of my neighbors came out into their yards and she woofed at them once and then went about her business. No rushing the wall, no barking her head off. Nothing like that. Now, if they approach the wall that's a different story, but we can't ask for miracles. She still barks up a storm when someone comes to the door, but we're working on it. I mean it's only been a couple of weeks... but she's not barking at the garbage truck or the mail truck anymore, so there's that.

She still has a deep hatred for the UPS truck though, and will bristle up at it even when we're walking about (no barking, just staring and bristling until I can get her attention away from it). I have no idea where that came from, but it's probably from before we got her.

So, thanks, y'all for the advice. We're a quieter home now, and Brandy is better behaved and a little happier (I hope) now that she's aware that she doesn't need to be on guard all of the time. We bought a treadmill yesterday and it'll be delivered tomorrow so she can have some exercise for those days we can't walk her or take her to the dog park. Hopefully that will curb future unwanted behaviours. We're also looking into obedience training to keep her mind in focus. Maybe agility training down the road.
posted by patheral at 9:51 AM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

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