My neighbor's dog is barking every time I unlock my front door.
March 20, 2014 4:44 AM   Subscribe

My neighbor's recently acquired tiny dog is barking every time I'm in the hall, effectively alerting the entire building to my comings and goings, particularly late at night. How do I make it stop?

Our apartment doors are very close together, and the sound of my key turning in the lock will invariably make the dog start barking for a couple of minutes. I don't really have any other interaction with the dog or the dog's owner except for passing each other in the hallway maybe a few times per week, with much comically inefficient lunging and barking (from the dog) and polite apologies (from dog owner lady).

Given that I am not the dog's owner/trainer, is there something I can do to convince the creature I am not the threat it is valiantly guarding against?
posted by Dr Dracator to Pets & Animals (18 answers total)
Not particularly, the owner would need to perform corrective action on the dog and it doesn't appear she is wanting to or is terribly inefficient at. The only thing that I could maybe see is a dog whistle but I don't have any experience with them. I wouldn't give any treats as you don't know of any dietary restrictions.

Sorry that you got an annoying neighbor who accepts this behavior from their pet.
posted by lpcxa0 at 4:52 AM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Other than becoming a ninja, there is little you can do. If the neighbor is not home when this happens, you can suggest having him/her corral the dogs in a back room (away from the door) while they are away. We do this and it helps (the dogs are happier too because they aren't constantly "on duty" watching the apt); our neighbors do not do this and their 4 dogs cause a ruckus constantly. If they are home when it happens then it's just a matter of them correcting the dog. They may or may not be willing to do that.
posted by melissasaurus at 5:07 AM on March 20, 2014

Given that the owner of the dog is female and you are a male. It may be a matter of desired effect. If the dog barks at a stranger in the hallway, the dog may be working as intended by the owner. If the dog is alerting the owner (who may or may not be home) that there is someone near their door ( and that is one of the intended purposes of the dog), the dog may be working as intended by the owner.

Beyond having a conversation with the owner, letting them know that the noise of the barking is a problem, and offering to assist them with stranger training (which may not be something they want) this is the down side of living in apartments that allow pets.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:31 AM on March 20, 2014

I say "x, hush" when my neighbors' dog does this. I also give her a mental picture of going into my own place and shutting the door.

A friend's dog would go ballistic when anyone came out of the bathroom. He didn't understand why until I pointed out that her food was in there.
posted by brujita at 5:33 AM on March 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Make friends with the dog? If the dog doesn't bark at its owner returning, then making friends with the dog might reduce the barking. It all depends on the owner - you can outright ask if it would be okay and then give it treats or toss a chew toy up and down first.

If she likes having a barking dog for security, then you're out of luck ethically unless you want to sneak the dog treats.
posted by viggorlijah at 5:36 AM on March 20, 2014

It might get better in time.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:58 AM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Turn the key every night at 3 AM, then call the landlord and complain about the noise and watch how fast this barking issue gets resolved.

You can't train someone else's dog.
posted by Sternmeyer at 6:08 AM on March 20, 2014 [16 favorites]

You can't train someone else's dog.

That's not strictly true. I mean, the dog hears a scary noise, barks at it, and then the noise goes away. Guess what the dog has been taught.

You'll need to work with the owner on rectifying this, however, because the behavior is self-reinforcing. Maybe ask them to restrict the dog from going near the door, or perhaps better, setting up some training sessions where you sidle up and open your door and she corrects the dog when it barks.

Or, maybe you could slip a small treat under the dogs door when you roll up to yours. That is likely as not to make the problem worse though.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:25 AM on March 20, 2014

Sorry, but you shouldn't give treats to someone else's pet: the dog may have dietary restrictions, as well as your giving treats when it barks just reinforcing the barking ("Dr. D is home! I'll bark and bark until he remembers to give me my daily treat!")

Both the lunging and the barking are problems your neighbor needs to address: as a pet owner, it is incumbent on her to be a responsible owner and good neighbor by properly training her dog. This is not your job.

Next time you see her, tell her the dog is constantly barking whenever you are at your own door. Suggest she check into professional dog training, for both that and the lunging --- it may be a cute tiny fluffy ball of fur, but it's literally attempting to attack, and that's only going to grow worse if not it isn't stopped.
posted by easily confused at 6:45 AM on March 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

At the risk of sounding glib, I missed the part where this is your problem. Your neighbor has a dog that barks given certain cues. You are within your rights to access your apartment. Are your other neighbors giving you grief for causing the dog to bark? If so, politely suggest they pound sand and/or deal with the actual source of the problem. Is the barking actually bothering you? Then politely notify your neighbor, and if s/he does nothing then start escalating (landlord, police, etc.).
posted by disconnect at 6:47 AM on March 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

What Disconnect said. The dog is its owner's responsibility. If you're getting complaints because the dog is barking at you - tell the complainer to take it up with the dog's owner. Or if the barking is bothering you - talk to the dog's owner.

Don't take on someone else's responsibility. And don't feel you have to restrict your movements or tiptoe around your apartment complex because of your neighbor's dog.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:55 AM on March 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm with Miss Banks. Unless you yourself are annoyed with Sparky's barking, chalk it up to living in an apartment and move on with your life.

The dog's owner needs to be the one dealing with the hassle.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:30 AM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why not say hello to the dog? Mail carriers throughout the US have done this. (Others carry pepper spray, or ignore barking dogs.)

The dog can get to know you are a specific, non-threatening individual.

You say the dog basically alerts - it doesn't yap like crazy after the slightest stimulus.

FWIW, I have had apartment neighbors who told me they LIKED having my dog in the building because the dog barked a couple of times anytime someone was passing by. Those dogs didn't bark at known residents, though.

Might want to remind neighbor that comically inefficient lunging can be terrifying to someone who is afraid of dogs and dangerous, not inefficient, with toddlers or frail elderly.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:07 AM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

People are right that this is the owner's responsibility and not yours. However, if this is bothering you a lot, I would have a chat with your neighbor and see whether she would be interested in spending a little time letting the dog get to know you as a friendly and non-threatening person. My next door neighbor (in a house, not an apartment, but our houses are really close together) a couple of years ago adopted a nervous rescue dog who initially barked whenever she saw me. But the neighbor and I talked about it and I made an effort to befriend the dog. Once the dog got used to me and realized that I actually belong here, she stopped barking at me.

It may be that your neighbor's dog has some sort of behavioral or psychological issue that would make this plan unworkable-- it's possible the dog was abused by someone who fits your description in the past, is just plain aggressive, etc.-- but I doubt it. Lots of dogs bark at strangers. So I think it's worth a shot trying to become a non-stranger. Just make sure, if your neighbor agrees to this plan, that you follow your neighbor's lead about how to approach the dog, etc.
posted by BlueJae at 8:38 AM on March 20, 2014

Unfortunately, you are training the dog - you go away when it barks. I have the same problem with our dogs and the mailman.

Asking the neighbor to meet the dog is probably the quickest way to get this over with. Set a date to meet in the hallway one evening before the dog goes for a walk, let it get a good smell of you, have it sit several times for treats. You might have to do this once or twice a week for a couple of weeks for it to sink in.

It might all go faster if you take the dog for a walk (assuming it enjoys walks).
posted by Lyn Never at 9:08 AM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree that the problem is the owner not the dog (and the lungeing on the leash makes me think the owner has some other general problems with training). It's pretty normal dog behavior to bark when they hear something outside the door. We live in an apartment that is right by the stairs, so my terrier barked a lot when we first moved in. I made sure to correct him and hush him every time I noticed it - partly curb the behavior and partly so my neighbors could tell that I actually cared. Also when we're gone the dog is in the bedroom so he can't bark right at the door if he hears something (although I have been told he is quiet when we're gone).

How long has the owner had the dog? The barking might decrease as the dog gets more comfortable.
posted by radioamy at 2:23 PM on March 20, 2014

My dog barks at strangers he hears entering the apartment building and has done in the last 5 apartments we've lived in. HOWEVER in around a month or so in each new place he's quickly identified what are the sounds of a legit inhabitant who's regularly entering the building and who is a new person and potentially an intruder. I think if you add a low whistle or a soft hello or a particular jangle of your keys, when you are entering the door, he will figure out pretty quickly that you're nothing to worry about. Don't approach his door any more than you have to, don't put food through it or tap it. As then you will end up with a postman type situation and the dog will go totally ballistic every time he hears you approach.
posted by stevedawg at 2:43 AM on March 21, 2014

Depending on what it's worth to you, you could try a bark silencer.

Here's one that's under $20 and hand held, but not sure if it would work through the door.

There's all types out there, and you could google on what might work best.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:49 PM on March 23, 2014

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