Dear Dog, please stop being my alarm clock!
August 14, 2014 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Dog stuck at home during mornings, barks at other dogs. How to tell owner? Fun snowflakes insides!

I live diagonally across the street from two dogs, Balcony Dog and Other Dog. In the mornings and evenings, Balcony Dog spends the majority of his time on the second-floor balcony, which has full view of the street. As soon as he sees another dog passing by, he starts barking and howling. If the "offending" dog heads towards the direction of the front of the house, he will even run through the house to where one of the window shades is open, to continue barking. Same goes for the other direction.

Each little incident lasts for less than a minute, but man, do they happen often.

This has been going on for a few months, but in the past two weeks, Balcony Dog has been barking earlier, howl-ier and more frequently in the morning. He barks as early as 7am. He even barked twice in the dead of night one night. A lot of people in the area walk their dogs in the morning, and it's not uncommon for Balcony Dog to howl five or more times in a half-hour period. This can last until 10am every day, but the worst time is from 7 to 9 or so. Evening incidents happen less frequently, but are equally irritating.

Balcony Dog's companion, Other Dog, is like a ghost. I've only seen it with a person, twice. But I suspect it's at home too during the day, and a few times I heard barking that sounds different than Balcony Dog, coming from inside the house, so I'm guessing that's Other Dog. I have no issue with him. The issue is with the damn dog on the balcony.

Since the owner seems to be out early and home late during weekdays, weekends seem like the best time to talk to him. But I'm at a loss at what to say, and I don't know him. I also don't know much about dog behavior. Should I suggest something, or just tell him the straight fact and hope he figures out what to do?

I've read other AskMe's about barking dogs, but they seem to concern ones that bark at any large living being, human or otherwise, whereas Balcony Dog barks only at other dogs, which seems like a different dynamic at play.

Thanks in advance!
posted by curagea to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
"I don't know if you're aware of this, but Balcony Dog barks all day while you're gone." If he seems apologetic, give him the name of the local doggy day care. If he doesn't seem apologetic, buy earplugs and a white noise machine.

Why is this dog on the balcony anyway? He's not locked out there, is he?
posted by desjardins at 11:03 AM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

He's not locked out there, is he?

The dog is not locked on the balcony. The OP said:

he will even run through the house to where one of the window shades is open, to continue barking -- i.e. he has the freedom to go elsewhere in the house, but chooses the balcony most of the time.

OP, I'd suggest using wording like desjardins suggested.
posted by tckma at 11:23 AM on August 14, 2014

Ha, I live near a very similar balcony + ghost dog pair (both have full access to the indoors, and balcony dog just likes to hang out and bark at other dogs. He's friendly with the other dogs and people when he meets them at street level, for what it's worth).

I'd suggest that you just mention to the owner that you can hear balcony dog barking even when you're inside your house and that it would be great if he could keep balcony dog off the balcony early in the morning and late at night (mentioning what times constitute early morning/late at night for you).

It's unlikely that the owner hasn't already considered doggy day care - plus it costs a fortune and not all dogs do well with it, so it may not be a realistic solution anyway. It seems like the guy could very easily just keep his balcony door shut and blinds closed before 9am and after 9pm, and your problem would be solved.
posted by snaw at 11:24 AM on August 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

If all else fails... A stealth option is an ultrasonic bark deterrent. There's a birdhouse shaped one, put it in a nearby tree pointed at where the dog is. Costs about $100 but it will either work quickly or not at all, so you can return it if it doesn't seem to be doing the trick.
posted by lizbunny at 11:28 AM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

"Hey, I'm sure you have no idea, but every day from about 7 to 9, your one dog is out on the balcony every few minutes barking at other dogs. Would it be possible for you to close the balcony door before you leave in the mornings?"

Also: Do not use an ultrasonic bark deterrent. Other things set it off and it punishes every dog within earshot every time ANY dog barks (it will punish Other Dog, for one, plus the dogs who are approaching and causing Balcony Dog to bark, plus every other dog around) and can cause real psychological distress and neurotic behavior in sensitive dogs.
posted by HotToddy at 12:02 PM on August 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Is this an apartment building? Seems like this is something the management could have a talk with Balcony Dog's owner about.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:19 PM on August 14, 2014

Agree with shaw - good advice. If a neighbor came to me to tell me my dogs were barking when out unsupervised, I would immediately take action. That said, it is wrong to have the dog out on the balcony at any time of the day unsupervised to bark at passing dogs. Who knows who is working what shift?

One idea: record the barking if you can. The owner may be shocked at how loud and frequent the barking is, and it might help convince him/her of the seriousness of the issue. It might be good for you to have a record of the barking as well.

In most (if not all) cities in the US, it is an owner's responsibility to make sure their dog does not disturb the peace by barking frequently and/or incessantly, and the police will issue citations if owners do not remediate barking issues. If the owner does not take responsibility, please notify the owner that you would call the police department/animal control to issue a complaint. And then follow-up by doing so.
posted by apennington at 1:36 PM on August 14, 2014

Purchase a PetSafe Outdoor Ultrasonic Bark Deterrent with a few extra batteries and give it to your neighbor for his balcony in the friendliest, most neighborly way. If he looks angry, lie and say that another neighbor has been fussing and threatening to call animal control and you are trying to help him avoid the hassle.
posted by myselfasme at 6:21 PM on August 14, 2014

To clarify a couple of things:
- I took a good look and the "balcony" is actually an enclosed back porch - there's no back yard. My street is sloped, so the "second floor" (and the back porch) is really the main floor. Doesn't actually change the situation, I think, just thought I mention it.
- There's a doggy door leading out to the back porch, which is how Dog gets in and out.
- Almost all of the window shades of the house are up, 24/7. Never saw them change position. I live eye-level to the main floor, so maybe I can bring up privacy too - bonus!

Anyways, thanks for the advice so far! I've been wracking my brain about how to approach the owner, since this is the first problem of its kind that I'm dealing with except this one family across the street when I was a kid, which is a whole different story.

I've also started recording the times of the occurrences last week, but an actual recording is a great idea (if I can pull it off).

Trying it out this weekend!
posted by curagea at 6:48 PM on August 14, 2014

My dog would do exactly this if she wasn't baby gated in the kitchen all day.

Remember that ultrasonic barking things are also punishing ghost dog and any other dog that is in the vicinity, like the poor dog that is walking by the house. Since the scary noise will be directly correlated with a dog walking by, balcony dog may blame the noise on the passing dog, and come to the conclusion that they need to bark until the dog goes away(and the noise stops!) anyways.

Random uncontrollable scary things can really screw up animals. Just talking to the neighbor and seeing if they can just close the dog door seems like a much better solution.
posted by rockindata at 4:47 AM on August 15, 2014

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