Happy yappy or upset pet?
March 24, 2014 5:22 AM   Subscribe

My next-door neighbours bought a miniature dachshund puppy a couple of months ago. It is very cute and whenever we see it out with them on walks it looks very happy. However it yaps non-stop every day when they're at work (and quite a bit at the weekend when they are around). The noise doesn't bother us (there's plenty of other street noise in our area), but we are a bit worried the dog isn't happy. It's hard to tell if this is an excited yap or a plaintive lonely yap.

Do dachshunds generally yap a lot? Is this likely to be just excited little puppy yapping, or might it be lonely or unhappy? If it is unhappy, we feel we ought to say something to the owners to let them know, but what should we say? We don't want it to sound like we're complaining about the noise, because we really aren't! If the dog's happy, it can yap away! We also don't want it to sound like we're criticising their dog-owning skills, because again, if the dog's happy so are we, and if it isn't happy there's no way they'd know without somebody telling them since this happens when they're out at work.

TLDR: It makes me sad to think that the dog next door might be lonely, reassure me that this is normal for excitable little puppies. Sorry, no pictures, breaking into my neighbour's house for a photo is a step too far even for metafilter.
posted by tinkletown to Human Relations (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Most likely it's separation anxiety. You need to let the owners know, they may think their little dog is perfectly happy at home, and he's not really.

Here's what you say, "Hi guys, I don't know if your aware of this, but some days I work from home and Oscar barks all day long. I'm not fussed by it, but I thought you'd want to know."

If you like, you can offer to entertain Oscar in your home when they're not there. I've done some dog-sitting, just for the company.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:25 AM on March 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

I actually met one of my neighbors when she bought the world's cutest westie and she went around introducing herself to all her immediate neighbors and telling us her phone number so that we could tell her if the puppy yapped. I think this was excellent neighborly courtesy, but I also know she was crate training and wanted to know right away if there were problems so she could work on them right away before they became ingrained. Definitely just mention it in passing.
posted by theweasel at 5:35 AM on March 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

My aunt's dachshunds yap at everything. Someone is walking by the house, better bark. I just saw my sister, better bark. I just saw my reflection, better bark. There might be a squirrel outside, better bark. Etc.
posted by phil at 6:14 AM on March 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is anecdata, but from my experiences with dachshunds, yapping = happy, constant whining = separation anxiety, and heart-wrenching non-stop howls of despair = early crate training sessions.
posted by amarynth at 6:37 AM on March 24, 2014 [6 favorites]

As an owner of a miniature dachshund, I can confirm that these are very loud, yappy little dogs. The yapping normally means they're happy, but I would still tell the owner, because they probably want to address this issue. No one wants to piss off their neighbors.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 6:47 AM on March 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Regardless of the renowned yappiness of the breed, a dog that is making a lot of noise all day long is quite likely not very happy. I think most dog people would raise an eyebrow at a new puppy being left alone for most of the day, most of the week. And also be of the opinion that a dog who is happy and chilling at home by itself probably won't be making tons of noise.

I understand you don't want to criticise their dog-owning skills, and it is a sore spot for every owner to think their dog might be sad, but the most loving, caring dog owners can not know what they're doing wrong and unintentionally be making their animals unhappy. You letting them know you can hear him yapping gives them that info- they probably have no idea. It's up to them what they do about it, but hopefully if they are good owners (and neighbours) they'll look into dealing with it rather than getting mad at you for criticising them.

If you're on that kind of level with them, I'd suggest recommending them this documentary. It shows how common separation anxiety is, how distressing it is (for owners and dogs) and also, thankfully, how easy it is to train dogs to be ok left by themselves. There is a dog in it who has serious issues that are very difficult to train away, which might be an encouraging example for them to nip it in the bud. And really, even if at the moment this particular dog is alright, it's good practice to train for comfortable separation anyway.
posted by mymbleth at 7:15 AM on March 24, 2014

"Do dachshunds generally yap a lot?"

Ours don't. But we have two, so they keep each other company. Before we got the second dog the first would whine all day if we weren't directly interacting with him at all times.

They do bark at noises, cars, and other animals, though, so maybe the puppy is still adjusting to which noises are normal and which require going into RED ALERT mode?

If you talk with your neighbors about their dog, perhaps suggest a second dachshund puppy to keep the first company? That's what we did and it worked for us. (Tip from experience: don't get the one that's been in a pet store cage so long that's he's been marked down because he's been there so long for a reason. Ugh, our second dog is so retarded.)
posted by Jacqueline at 8:00 AM on March 24, 2014

I have no idea if the dog is happy or unhappy or busy all day keeping vermin at bay but I do know that if you can hear the yapping, others can, too. Maybe they won't be so nice and will cause trouble for the dog and owner.

You should talk to the owner.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 2:28 PM on March 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had two dachshunds living next door to me a few years back and they never, ever stopped barking. They barked at the wind, at the sun, at a kid's laugh two blocks over, at every bicycle, car, motorcycle, baby buggy, wheelchair. The worst part was that when I was in my kitchen they could see me and they just kept barking and jumping at the fence trying to get into my yard. I closed the curtain and it made no difference - they could hear the water turn on in the kitchen sink or the clink/clank of dishes being washed or a pot being stirred. They had outstanding hearing, I guess, because even when I was helping my granddaughter with her homework they could hear our conversation and away they went. I couldn't use my patio, couldn't barbeque outdoors or eat outdoors on a nice summer evening - nope.

I spoke to the neighbors about it, politely and gently, and received their apologies in good faith. There was no change in the behavior of the monster dachshunds, however. Note also that two of them made no difference whatever - if one barked, the other backed him up.

I would only take heart that if you don't complain enough to change this dog's behavior, someone else will.

I am a dog lover who has met perhaps five dogs in her life she couldn't love to pieces - three who bit me and these two beasts.

Aaaach - dachshunds.
posted by aryma at 6:56 PM on March 24, 2014

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