Author Topic: Barking dogs - nothing much changed (final update for anyone who was following)  (Read 24108 times)

OnTheMoney

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Hi everyone, hoping to get some advice from the collective intelligence of the MMM forum community...

We purchased a nice house in a HOA area a few months ago. We were initially uncomfortable with the idea of paying HOA fees (since we are typically very frugal, no debts beyond mortgage, etc) but in the end we decided to go for it because we wanted the peace and quiet. We had some problems with a barking dog in our previous neighborhood and we really didn't want to deal with that again, especially now that we have a baby.

The problem is that the house two doors down has at least 3 (although possibly 4 or 5, it certainly sounds like it) dogs that bark like crazy whenever they are let into their back yard. They are usually indoors and so their barking doesn't usually bother us while they are inside their house. We know for a fact that they do bark while they are inside their house because we can see them barking at their front window when we go for our regular walks throughout the neighborhood. There is absolutely no doubt that the owners are aware of the barking. (And by the way, there are plenty of other dogs around in the neighborhood but none that bark so frequently/excessively.)

The dogs are kept inside at night but they are still a major problem. The barking wakes us up in the morning even with our windows closed. This morning was particularly bad - they started at 7.30am (on the dot) and went almost constantly (literally without even one minute of break) until 8.51am after which time they barked sporadically (e.g. every few minutes, for a minute or two each time, at the squirrels, wind, animals or people at the next house, boredom, etc) until 10.50am as I am posting this. They're still going strong so who knows when/if it will stop - maybe the owners have gone out, I'm not sure. Today has been completely ridiculous.

Even on Sunday morning, they barked like crazy from 7.15am until 7.30am - 'only' for 15 minutes, but by which point we were all awake and thoroughly annoyed and unable to go back to sleep. Obviously with a baby we're often up late at night and I don't think it's possible (and definitely not reasonable) for us to need to adjust our sleeping and living arangements around those people and their animals. The dogs also bark whenever they are let out throughout the day, which is a problem when the baby (or an exhausted mama) needs to nap.

We haven't kept a detailed log because quite honestly we're just trying to block it out as much as possible and not think about it. If we tried to write down every time they started and stopped barking, it would be quite an all-consuming and annoying job.

We live in Texas and it's infuriating that we can't keep the windows open in our own home. We need to keep windows closed and air conditioning blasting (think about the cost!) when open windows would suffice, just because some obnoxious people think that they have the right to do whatever they want.

The HOA's response was that "barking dogs are one of the difficult things to deal with and enforce". They suggested we call the Sheriff's office. I did that and they said that (incredibly) there is no noise ordinance here and that the dogs can legally bark literally all day long and the police could stand on the street and hear them and not do anything about it. They said they can only go out and talk to them if the dogs are barking during the night (which we haven't heard) or very early morning - they said there's no fixed rule for early morning, but that they'd consider "before 7.30 or 8am" unreasonable, which does occur, although I haven't called them to come out because it would be after that time before they would be here to listen to it and the dogs would most likely be back inside by then anyway.

The police said that it's a "civil matter" and suggested a lawsuit. They said people get sued for barking dogs all the time. Initially, we actually thought about trying to sue the HOA, since we feel that we were misled into thinking that this would be a quiet area. We definitely would not have moved here had we known that the HOA wouldn't or couldn't do anything about barking dogs. It had never occurred to us to sue the dog owners. We thought you only sued people for money (associated with stress, aggravation, wasted time, real estate costs and moving costs if we need to move, etc) but apparently not. They said that the judge could also force the owners to take certain actions (e.g. barking collars or eventual removal of the dogs if necessary) and fine them or have them arrested if they don't comply with the orders.

We didn't want to pick a fight with neighbours because we don't want them to retaliate by submitting infractions on us (e.g. if we haven't mowed our lawn recently enough, etc) leading to infringement notices and fines for us, but we need to do something to get our sleeping situation under control.

Has anyone sued over barking dogs? Or maybe there's a legal professional here who has seen such lawsuits play out? If so, do you have any advice for us? Thanks for your help!

(Edited 10/12/14 to make it clear that I was updating an old thread for anyone following, rather than kicking off another storm :)
« Last Edit: October 12, 2014, 12:28:37 AM by OnTheMoney »

AJ

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2014, 09:56:26 AM »
Have you tried politely talking to your neighbors about it?

warfreak2

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2014, 10:04:10 AM »
Yeah, first thing I was looking for was some mention of "we spoke to them about it but it didn't help". Do that before you start filing lawsuits.

Is there some way that the HOA misled you when you were investigating the property?

If there's a possibility of your neighbours reporting you for breaking the HOA rules, then don't break the HOA rules. If you didn't want to follow those rules you shouldn't have chosen to live there.

$200k

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2014, 10:07:10 AM »
You want to read your CCRs.  Almost all HOAs have nuisance prohibitions.

MMM

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2014, 10:15:30 AM »
Oh man.. this is one of my own pet peeves. I am amazed that some dog owners think it is reasonable to impose the sounds of their own pets upon others. To me, this is exactly like me standing at the corner of my back yard and randomly firing blanks from a rifle throughout the day in the middle of a dense urban area.

There is a really easy technical solution: bark training collars. These emit a little spray of some smelly substance when they detect a dog's bark, or deliver a slightly annoying shock. I have seen them turn insane yappy little dogs into nice, mellow city-compatible pets.

So if you spoke politely to your neighbors and dropped off a printout of the information about these collars, it could help. You could even include a bottle of wine and an offer to pay for the collars!

In my area, the laws are much more people-friendly: barking dogs are never allowed at any time. Some neighbors still choose to ignore that and keep a kennel of hellhounds outside, but you can simply call the police department's Animal Control department and they deliver a warning, then a series of increasing tickets. It usually does the job.

I have managed to quiet down my whole block of the city (although it has cost me some popularity with the dog owners). I always start with the friendly personal visit. Follow up with a second visit if necessary. After that, it's Animal Control all the way - I have the number on speed dial.

It has made a huge difference and we can actually sleep and hang out in the back yard peacefully now. The funny part is, all my friends in the area - some of them dog owners themselves - are thankful for this effort. They all felt the same way, but were afraid to create a stir. I'll gladly sacrifice popularity for that!

Forcus

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2014, 10:16:33 AM »
Ditto.

You need to read the HOA documents word for word. I guarantee you there will be something about nuisances.

I'd also follow up with your county's ordinances (apparently you aren't within a city with its ordinances). You need to read them word for word.

Don't take anyone's word (HOA or Sheriff's Dept.) without reading for yourself.

Some years ago we had an extremely over-reaching ordinance officer (don't know what his title actually was). He would actually rent / hire / borrow (never got the real story) private planes to take pictures of "non-compliant" properties (the irony of not being able to see junk from street level or any neighbor never apparently occurred to him). We lived in the country and I had 10 cars at the time, none of them junkers. We got a notice that I had to get rid of them, license them, or place them in a building or they would become the county's property within 10 days or so. Mad as hell, I went down and demanded (politely, at first) to read the ordinance myself. At first he refused (!!!). I told him as a citizen being asked to follow the law, I had every right to know what law I was supposed to be following. Finally got the ordinance. It said that there was no need to license anything before 1978 as they were considered classic / collector vehicles. And guess what, all but one were pre-1978. Bottom line, you need to know for yourself what the rules are. Don't trust anyone to be straight with you especially if they have their own agenda (I'm not totally paranoid.... just experienced).

Talking with the people is an obvious starting point. We have (inside) dogs, that bark on occasion when we let them outside but we are always stationed at the door to quiet them. I'd be mortified if a neighbor was (rightly) bothered by our choice to have pets. Not everyone is considerate but I'd have to believe that someone living in an HOA would understand that they can't just do what they please. That is, after all, the reason one lives in with an HOA.

Start with the above... then consider lawsuits as a very last resort. You don't want to go to war with someone less than a block away. It never turns out good for anyone.

OldDogNewTrick

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2014, 10:21:49 AM »
Instead of heading to the lawyers office I'd try speaking with your neighbors first. An easy fix might be to change their backyard time a bit to be more neighbor friendly. Why not give them a chance to work with you? You know, it is entirely possible they have NO IDEA the dogs are upsetting to you. Have you spoken to your other neighbors to find out if they are annoyed as well? If they are not... you need to consider the possibility you are being a little over-sensitive. When mine were babies I put a big box fan in their rooms to create 'white noise' and block out any outside distractions. Worked like a charm.

When choosing your next home you may want to consider acreage so you can better control your sound environment. I'm sympathetic...we have a real aversion to traffic noise. Our home is a mile off the main street.

jpo

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2014, 10:30:27 AM »
There is a really easy technical solution: bark training collars. These emit a little spray of some smelly substance when they detect a dog's bark, or deliver a slightly annoying shock. I have seen them turn insane yappy little dogs into nice, mellow city-compatible pets.
As a dog owner I would never put one of these collars (especially not the shock) on my dog. Dogs bark for a reason...



Dogs can easily be taught not to bark on command. I use the word "enough" and mine knows to shut her yap.

+1 for the friendly visit.

frugalnacho

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2014, 10:41:49 AM »
Instead of heading to the lawyers office I'd try speaking with your neighbors first. An easy fix might be to change their backyard time a bit to be more neighbor friendly. Why not give them a chance to work with you? You know, it is entirely possible they have NO IDEA the dogs are upsetting to you. Have you spoken to your other neighbors to find out if they are annoyed as well? If they are not... you need to consider the possibility you are being a little over-sensitive. When mine were babies I put a big box fan in their rooms to create 'white noise' and block out any outside distractions. Worked like a charm.

When choosing your next home you may want to consider acreage so you can better control your sound environment. I'm sympathetic...we have a real aversion to traffic noise. Our home is a mile off the main street.

How? How can you let your dog out and have it bark for hours on end and not realize it is annoying other people? You would have to be insanely dense.

szmaine

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2014, 10:42:37 AM »
There is a really easy technical solution: bark training collars. These emit a little spray of some smelly substance when they detect a dog's bark, or deliver a slightly annoying shock. I have seen them turn insane yappy little dogs into nice, mellow city-compatible pets.
As a dog owner I would never put one of these collars (especially not the shock) on my dog. Dogs bark for a reason...



Dogs can easily be taught not to bark on command. I use the word "enough" and mine knows to shut her yap.

+1 for the friendly visit.

Thanks for the nightmares!! That image is seriously disturbing!

frugalnacho

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2014, 10:43:58 AM »
There is a really easy technical solution: bark training collars. These emit a little spray of some smelly substance when they detect a dog's bark, or deliver a slightly annoying shock. I have seen them turn insane yappy little dogs into nice, mellow city-compatible pets.
As a dog owner I would never put one of these collars (especially not the shock) on my dog. Dogs bark for a reason...

No they don't.  Some dogs are just plain retarded and will bark endlessly for no reason whatsoever.  Or will bark because there is a dog 2 doors down.  How long can you sit at a fence and bark non stop at another dog you will never get at? For some dogs an entire lifetime. 

AJ

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2014, 10:50:51 AM »
I would talk to them in person first, but unfortunately, in my experience, the people who let their dogs bark nonstop are the ones who will get snippy with you for talking to them about it.

This can also have a lot to do with how you approach it. If my neighbors came to me and said "So sorry to bother you, but you probably aren't aware that your dogs bark for long periods of time when they're alone outside" then I would be mortified, apologize, and find a way to fix it. If they said, "Excuse me, could you please shut your dogs up, they're loud and wake my baby" I would feel much differently. If they called the cops without being grown up enough to speak with me first, I would probably hate them forever.

It pays to be the mature one in this situation. Give them the benefit of the doubt and a chance to fix their mistake before escalating the issue. It's rather disconcerting that calling the HOA and the Sheriff ranked higher on the to-do list than speaking to the neighbors directly.

How? How can you let your dog out and have it bark for hours on end and not realize it is annoying other people? You would have to be insanely dense.

The OP said she can't hear the dogs when they bark inside, so if the owners are indoors they might not hear them either. Or they might not be home.

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2014, 10:53:03 AM »
Always start with talking to the person.  Otherwise you will just piss them off, like you said.  You might anyway by talking to them, but at least you tried to handle it in a friendly neighbor kind of way.

There is a really easy technical solution: bark training collars. These emit a little spray of some smelly substance when they detect a dog's bark, or deliver a slightly annoying shock. I have seen them turn insane yappy little dogs into nice, mellow city-compatible pets.
As a dog owner I would never put one of these collars (especially not the shock) on my dog. Dogs bark for a reason...



Dogs can easily be taught not to bark on command. I use the word "enough" and mine knows to shut her yap.

+1 for the friendly visit.

Thanks for the nightmares!! That image is seriously disturbing!

No shit, yikes!

While I agree that negatively rewarding a dog for barking is a bad way to teach it not to bark.....it doesn't really sound like the owner has any interest in teaching its dogs anything.  In that case I would not be opposed to it. 

Would I do it for my own dog?  No, but I enjoy training my dog.

jpo

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2014, 10:55:01 AM »
There is a really easy technical solution: bark training collars. These emit a little spray of some smelly substance when they detect a dog's bark, or deliver a slightly annoying shock. I have seen them turn insane yappy little dogs into nice, mellow city-compatible pets.
As a dog owner I would never put one of these collars (especially not the shock) on my dog. Dogs bark for a reason...

No they don't.  Some dogs are just plain retarded and will bark endlessly for no reason whatsoever.  Or will bark because there is a dog 2 doors down.  How long can you sit at a fence and bark non stop at another dog you will never get at? For some dogs an entire lifetime.
Another dog 2 doors down is still a reason, maybe not a valid one for you, but for the dog...

It sounds like OP's neighbors' dogs need a little training and supervision when they're outside.

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2014, 10:56:35 AM »
We recently had the same problem occur. We live in an HOA and when the house next to us was purchased, the new owners decided that they were going to install a dog breeding kennel in their back yard which borders our property. Granted it was a very beautiful set-up and the dogs were very cute. Very quickly the dogs barking took over our once peaceful neighborhood and was non-stop from morning to night. My poor sons room is on that side of our house and he would routinely be woken up in the middle of the night due to the barking. We read our HOA code of conduct and it clearly stated a provision for noise abatement and the requirement to keep pets and other animals "reasonably quiet" as to not disturb the peace of your neighbors. Talking with a few of my other neighbors, they also were complaining of the noise. My wife typed up a nice professional and respectful anonymous letter that explained our neighborhood concerns and attached a highlighted copy of the section of the HOA restrictions that addressed the issue. She mailed it anonymously to said neighbor and shortly thereafter the barking stopped and has never been an issue since. We have since had wonderful get-togethers with the neighbor and the issue has never come up.

Like others have already posted, I think that they were just unaware of the problem and once notified they promptly addressed the issue.

Good luck

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2014, 11:01:56 AM »
I too would be surprised if there is no HOA rule on this.  It is a standard clause in Canada.  Have you checked carefully?

If there really is no provision for this I would be reviewing clauses for inclusion in the rules through an amendment and request that this be done asap through the HOA.

It is good to raise this issue with the neighbour but there definitely should be something written down. I'm sure you are not the only one feeling annoyed.

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #16 on: March 28, 2014, 11:20:52 AM »
There is a really easy technical solution: bark training collars. These emit a little spray of some smelly substance when they detect a dog's bark, or deliver a slightly annoying shock. I have seen them turn insane yappy little dogs into nice, mellow city-compatible pets.
As a dog owner I would never put one of these collars (especially not the shock) on my dog. Dogs bark for a reason...



Dogs can easily be taught not to bark on command. I use the word "enough" and mine knows to shut her yap.

+1 for the friendly visit.

I agree with the "seriously disturbing image" posts.  +1
I'm curious about how you got your dog to understand the command to stop barking.  I've tried a variety of things and either my dog is too stupid to get it (which I doubt) or too freakin' stubborn (highly likely).  She's not really a problem barker like these dogs, but she's an old lady, starting to lose her hearing and possibly going senile, and she'll randomly convince herself that someone's at the door and tear off barking.  Luckily, our baby sleeps through this most of the time, but only most of the time.

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2014, 11:21:53 AM »
There is a really easy technical solution: bark training collars. These emit a little spray of some smelly substance when they detect a dog's bark, or deliver a slightly annoying shock. I have seen them turn insane yappy little dogs into nice, mellow city-compatible pets.
As a dog owner I would never put one of these collars (especially not the shock) on my dog. Dogs bark for a reason...

Dogs can easily be taught not to bark on command. I use the word "enough" and mine knows to shut her yap.

+1 for the friendly visit.

My dog doesn't bark, she...talks.  She is so damn chatty.  We got her the bark collar with the citronella spray (no shocking), and she stops talking immediately, she knows what "bark collar" means, and that turned into your "enough" command.  You're not supposed to keep these collars on for more than a couple hours, and especially not when they're playing or outside.  The idea isn't to deter the dog from barking when they should bark, the point is to shut them up when they should know when to be quiet.

If my dog was too annoying to people, i would want to know about it.  So just talk to them. 

jpo

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2014, 11:34:30 AM »
I agree with the "seriously disturbing image" posts.  +1
I'm curious about how you got your dog to understand the command to stop barking.  I've tried a variety of things and either my dog is too stupid to get it (which I doubt) or too freakin' stubborn (highly likely).  She's not really a problem barker like these dogs, but she's an old lady, starting to lose her hearing and possibly going senile, and she'll randomly convince herself that someone's at the door and tear off barking.  Luckily, our baby sleeps through this most of the time, but only most of the time.
Dogs can't eat and bark at the same time, they are mutually exclusive behaviors.

When the dog is barking, say your word (in my case it was "enough") and then immediately shove a treat under her nose. She'll have to stop barking to eat the treat. Repeat, but after saying your word delay the treat for 1 second, then 2 seconds, then 3, etc.

We also taught her to "speak" on command, helps with practicing with "enough" on command.

The other thing we did is: if she knows the command already and is still barking because she's overstimulated, physically remove her from the situation (calmly but firmly walk her by her collar to a calm spot) and have her sit or lay down until she's calmer, or at least quiet.

mboulder

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2014, 11:43:15 AM »
All of my neighborhood mailboxes are in one block, and there is a condo behind them that has a huge barking dog. Whenever anyone walked by, which is often since the mailboxes are there, this thing would bark like crazy and hurl itself at their front window, slamming into it full-force. If I were one of the neighbors I'd be livid, but it has gone on for at least a year, so I'm not sure if anyone tried to work with the dog owner or not. About a month ago I noticed that the inside pane of their double-paned window was complete shattered, with a few sharp, large shards of glass still hanging precariously from the top of the frame. I haven't heard the dog bark since, though I've seen him inside.

Even worse, a friend of mine lived in a condo and a neighbor across the street would let his dogs bark all day and all night. My friend nicely asked him to do something about it, the guy told him to f- off. He got the HOA involved, which did nothing, and eventually the police, who after several visits started ticketing the guy. That led to a bunch of retaliation and confrontations by the dog owner, and the street became a really bad place to live for a while. Turned out the guy was just a renter, and the owner refused to renew his lease. Later my friend gave up condo living and bought a small house, and spent a bunch of money buying soundproof windows and doors, and pumped insulation into the walls which act as soundproofing too. It was expensive I'm sure, and I not a solution for most on this forum, but I have to admit when he shuts his door you can't hear anything from outside, even the neighbor's loud lawnmower. And as a bonus his heating and cooling bills are next to nothing.

My area is super dog friendly, and while many owners are cool - and I have no problem with these folks or their dogs - some have a sense of entitlement that their dog should be able to run off leash on local trails (which is illegal), bark all they want "because that's what dogs do", chase wildlife, jump on strangers, nuzzle strangers in places that they'd probably rather not be nuzzled, etc. But what can you do? The entitlement culture is not something that I see changing anytime soon, and it's not a good solution to expect those who are perturbed to pack up and move to the boonies somewhere.

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #20 on: March 28, 2014, 11:52:47 AM »
I think obviously the best advice you've got so far is to talk to your neighbor, friendly, with the best intentions and without any accusations or anger. I'm not a fan of the anonymous letter approach, because I feel it comes of as in-direct and passive aggressive. Also, if the neighbor knows your concerns, you might be able to work together to figure out what times the dogs are barking, when it is annoying you, and how they can work around it. (This is assuming your neighbor has the best intentions as well).

I'm not a fan of shock or citronella collars myself, and neither was the vet, however, if you can't find the and eliminate the root cause (through training, exercise, more company, etc), it can be a bandaid solution. In the past, we've used an ultrasonic deterrent to eliminate problem barking with our dog since I'm hesitant to use a shock collar: http://amzn.to/P96ECD
As I understand, this can be a bit more hit and miss, because some dogs are sensitive to the frequency used and will stop barking, whereas others will hapilly bark through it. It worked for us though, and was a good alternative to the collar. It wasn't a substitute for more exercise, training, and eliminating the root causes of the dogs anxiety though.

frugalnacho

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #21 on: March 28, 2014, 11:56:01 AM »
I would talk to them in person first, but unfortunately, in my experience, the people who let their dogs bark nonstop are the ones who will get snippy with you for talking to them about it.

This can also have a lot to do with how you approach it. If my neighbors came to me and said "So sorry to bother you, but you probably aren't aware that your dogs bark for long periods of time when they're alone outside" then I would be mortified, apologize, and find a way to fix it. If they said, "Excuse me, could you please shut your dogs up, they're loud and wake my baby" I would feel much differently. If they called the cops without being grown up enough to speak with me first, I would probably hate them forever.

It pays to be the mature one in this situation. Give them the benefit of the doubt and a chance to fix their mistake before escalating the issue. It's rather disconcerting that calling the HOA and the Sheriff ranked higher on the to-do list than speaking to the neighbors directly.

How? How can you let your dog out and have it bark for hours on end and not realize it is annoying other people? You would have to be insanely dense.

The OP said she can't hear the dogs when they bark inside, so if the owners are indoors they might not hear them either. Or they might not be home.

So the OP can hear it several doors down inside her own house (and it wakes her up), but he dog owners can't hear it even though the dogs in his backyard? That doesn't make sense.  Also how does the owner not hear the dogs as he leaves/comes home from work?

frugalnacho

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #22 on: March 28, 2014, 12:00:48 PM »
There is a really easy technical solution: bark training collars. These emit a little spray of some smelly substance when they detect a dog's bark, or deliver a slightly annoying shock. I have seen them turn insane yappy little dogs into nice, mellow city-compatible pets.
As a dog owner I would never put one of these collars (especially not the shock) on my dog. Dogs bark for a reason...

No they don't.  Some dogs are just plain retarded and will bark endlessly for no reason whatsoever.  Or will bark because there is a dog 2 doors down.  How long can you sit at a fence and bark non stop at another dog you will never get at? For some dogs an entire lifetime.
Another dog 2 doors down is still a reason, maybe not a valid one for you, but for the dog...

It sounds like OP's neighbors' dogs need a little training and supervision when they're outside.

I'd buy that maybe if it happened once in awhile.  I have known dogs though that bark endlessly because of a dog.  It's a god damn dog that lives 2 doors down from you, always has, always will, why the need to stand at the fence and bark?  You've been barking 24/7 every time you are outside at the fence for years and it has accomplished exactly NOTHING in those years.  Why do you continue to bark? At what point does the dog learn it is a fruitless endeavor and stop barking?  That is what I mean by there is no reason.

Cromacster

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2014, 12:01:09 PM »
There is a really easy technical solution: bark training collars. These emit a little spray of some smelly substance when they detect a dog's bark, or deliver a slightly annoying shock. I have seen them turn insane yappy little dogs into nice, mellow city-compatible pets.
As a dog owner I would never put one of these collars (especially not the shock) on my dog. Dogs bark for a reason...



Dogs can easily be taught not to bark on command. I use the word "enough" and mine knows to shut her yap.

+1 for the friendly visit.

I agree with the "seriously disturbing image" posts.  +1
I'm curious about how you got your dog to understand the command to stop barking.  I've tried a variety of things and either my dog is too stupid to get it (which I doubt) or too freakin' stubborn (highly likely).  She's not really a problem barker like these dogs, but she's an old lady, starting to lose her hearing and possibly going senile, and she'll randomly convince herself that someone's at the door and tear off barking.  Luckily, our baby sleeps through this most of the time, but only most of the time.

Dogs are rarely too stupid, it's usually the person training it....Jokes aside, it's usually just that the person training it doesn't know how to properly translate what they want the dog to do.

There are many ways to teach a dog to bark/stop barking.  The way that I have always taught is by first teaching the dog to bark.  I have done this by find a behavior or trigger that causes the dog to bark.  Reward it, eventually add a command.  Then start using the command everywhere when anyhing is going on.  Helping the dog to generalize the command.  If you can get a solid bark, training the dog not to bark is essentially the same process.  Reward the dog after he stops barking, add a command, then do it everywhere. 

Once the dog has a good grip on what the commands mean you can start to phase out rewards and add corrections for the dog doing it out of turn.  And a "good grip" is probably in the area of 1,000+ repetitions.

phred

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #24 on: March 28, 2014, 12:06:13 PM »
Stupid owner probably figures dogs quiet down after he is out of sight

frugalnacho

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #25 on: March 28, 2014, 12:12:29 PM »
Stupid owner probably figures dogs quiet down after he is out of sight

In other words he is probably about as intelligent as his dogs.

Cromacster

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #26 on: March 28, 2014, 12:13:36 PM »
Stupid owner probably figures dogs quiet down after he is out of sight

In other words he is probably about as intelligent as his dogs.

Bah! No need to insult the dogs.

OnTheMoney

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #27 on: March 28, 2014, 12:14:27 PM »
Thanks for all the responses! For the record, I also agree that most dogs bark for a reason and that they can be trained. I actually grew up with several of the well behaved variety. In my experience, a firm smack on the nose when they barked for a week or so when you first bring them home was usually enough to train them as long as you otherwise look after them and make sure they get a walk outside every day, etc. In this case I think that they are barking at the squirrels and things because they are bored and untrained and possibly don't get enough exercise. There are so many of them (DH says he's seen at least 4, but I've only seen 3 of them) and they just keep setting each other off. There are other dogs in the neighborhood that bark here and there but nothing that we consider excessive.

We haven't talked to the owners because we see the dogs barking even when they're in the house. If there was a chance that the dogs were only barking when the owners were out then we definitely would have had a chat with them already. Neither the HOA nor the police (/ animal control) advised us to approach the owners.

We expected that the HOA would handle this quickly and professionally, e.g. with a survey form in the mailbox of all of the surrounding houses asking what the other neighbors have observed and/or whether it bothered them, at a minimum, and that they would make the case and we would just give supporting evidence or whatever. We didn't think they'd push it all back on us.

There is definitely a clause about dog barking in the HOA rules ("No animal shall be allowed to make an unreasonable amount of noise, or to become a nuisance") - I made sure that clause was there before we bought this property. Unfortunately I recently looked through the HOA document more carefully and there is a clause that we didn't notice before: "No warranty of enforceability. While Declarant has no reason to believe that any of the covenants, terms of provisions of this Declaration are or may be invalid or unenforceable for any reason or to any extent, Declarant makes no warranty or representation as to the present or future validity or enforceability of any such covenant, term or provision. Any Owner acquiring a Lot in reliance on one or more of such convenants, terms or provisions shall assume all risks of the validity and enforceability thereof, and by acquiring such Lot agrees to hold Declarant harmless therefrom." So it would seem that they are trying to say that they don't need to enforce anything and can't be held responsible.

And when I talk of infringement notices against us, I mean that we received a notice about our lawn needing to be trimmed a few days after we moved in. It didn't need to be mowed because the length was still fine, there were just a few small trails of grass growing onto the road. I haven't found anything specific in the HOA rules about that, beyond the standard sentence about keeping the property maintained (which we agree is reasonable). We don't want to mow and trim every 2 weeks in the middle of Winter when the grass isn't growing very much and we don't want someone to report us for an infraction if we have a tiny bit of grass trailing onto the road. We don't have a problem with the rules, and we're happy to keep our property maintained like most of the others around here, but we don't want ridiculously high standards for lawn maintenance and ridiculously low standards for peace and quiet. Since it's all very subjective, we'd rather not make enemies around the neighborhood who could report us for silly things and generally make our lives (more) difficult.

The other reason we didn't talk to the neighbors is that if we need to collect evidence (e.g. video of the dogs barking, or asking the neighbors to sign a form or survey or petition) then maybe it would be better to 'strike while the iron is hot' while the situation is at its worst. We didn't want to give them a few weeks to try to do something about it, for example, continue to let the dogs outside early in the morning but 'just for 5 minutes'. We don't want the (generally very nice) other people in the neighborhood to feel bad about backing us up in a complaint if they notice that things are a bit better than they were before when it's still unacceptable but just not completely outrageous. And we thought it would be better to know what our options were before we approached them, since maybe they know there's no noise ordinance. The HOA's last comment to us was that "a realistic concern over civil legal action can become a strong motivator."

Since it's obvious that the barking doesn't bother the owners, and that the dogs do need to be let out regularly to do their business etc, we're also not confident that any such attempts would last very long, and we really want this to be dealt with quickly so we can free up time, headspace and stress buffer to deal with other things.

I guess we just need to go and talk to the owners (politely) with some printouts about the dog training collars and ultrasonic trainers. Hope it doesn't make things worse for us in the end. We can try talking to the other neighbors over the weekend too. Not holding my breath but I guess stranger things have happened...

jp

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #28 on: March 28, 2014, 12:20:48 PM »

We haven't talked to the owners...


Oh geez, just knock on the damned door.  I am always shocked that people will call the police and talk to an HOA and even hire a lawyer to avoid having to confront someone.  You're going to make it way worse, how is this not obvious?
 


OnTheMoney

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #29 on: March 28, 2014, 12:23:04 PM »
You might also look to see if there's a legal limit to the number of dogs you can own in your area, in my town it's 2. If they're in compliance with that and they're still barking nonstop after you talk with them then start talking to animal control

I thought about this too. Unfortunately the animal control police officer didn't seem to even know what I was talking about when I asked whether they were all registered and I did mention there were at least a few of them so apparently there aren't really any rules about dogs around here because it's considered a county rather than a city.

OnTheMoney

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #30 on: March 28, 2014, 12:25:39 PM »
When choosing your next home you may want to consider acreage so you can better control your sound environment.

We choose a HOA area (with its fees) expecting that the rules would control our sound environment. Even if we moved to a regular suburb I would expect some sense of responsibility from pet owners, but why someone with 4 noisy dogs would move to a HOA area prohibiting (or even just discouraging) animal noise is beyond me. It seems like they are the ones who should move to an acreage environment. Personally I think it's cruel to have 3+ medium-sized dogs on that small block anyway.

Cromacster

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #31 on: March 28, 2014, 12:28:16 PM »
You might also look to see if there's a legal limit to the number of dogs you can own in your area, in my town it's 2. If they're in compliance with that and they're still barking nonstop after you talk with them then start talking to animal control

I thought about this too. Unfortunately the animal control police officer didn't seem to even know what I was talking about when I asked whether they were all registered and I did mention there were at least a few of them so apparently there aren't really any rules about dogs around here because it's considered a county rather than a city.

Most cities don't require you to register dogs.  In my area there is only one city that I know that actually requires you to register.  Although there are many that have restrictions on the number of dogs you can own.

jpo

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #32 on: March 28, 2014, 12:32:49 PM »
I guess we just need to go and talk to the owners (politely) with some printouts about the dog training collars and ultrasonic trainers.
And maybe some training too?

BlueHouse

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #33 on: March 28, 2014, 12:34:54 PM »
I'd definitely try to make friends with the neighbors.  People just aren't asses to other people they like.  When you do speak with them, consider asking them if they would mind if you took the dogs along with you on your walks/runs?  Sometimes big barkers are just bored or have too much excess energy.     I can't stand dog-owners that just let their dogs into their yards and think that's enough exercise.  Lazy-Ass owners!  Or maybe you could buy the dogs treadmills like on "the Dog Whisperer". 

phred

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #34 on: March 28, 2014, 12:35:47 PM »
while not registering, I'm surprised county doesn't require licensing.  Animal control may not use "register" in their work environment.

phred

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #35 on: March 28, 2014, 12:36:54 PM »
I'd definitely try to make friends with the neighbors.   When you do speak with them, consider asking them if they would mind if you took the dogs along with you on your walks/runs?  Sometimes big barkers are just bored or have too much excess energy.     

excellent idea

Ottawa

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #36 on: March 28, 2014, 12:40:24 PM »
Homemade Crossbow?  (quiet in residential setting)
Poison Meat? (dumpster dive - more frugal that way)
Hit and Run? (using unpoisoned meat tied to front bumper)
Rent wild hungry wolf for a week?

These are the things I dream about doing...but don't. 

totoro

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #37 on: March 28, 2014, 12:45:41 PM »
Well, the disclaimer about enforceability does not give the HOA a pass here.  That clause is likely there just in case a court says a term is not enforceable - perhaps because it is against public policy or human rights - which is not the situation here.  It may also be there to protect the HOA from unreasonable requests for enforcement.

There should be clauses in the same document that indicate how complaints will be dealt with.  Are there?  If so, this is the process that needs to be followed.  Usually fines are permitted if warnings are not followed.  You may need to collect more evidence to persuade the HOA to take steps. 

Noise is also usually contained in either a nuisance or noise ordinance.  Looking at your state quickly I note there is a State of Texas Noise Statute that would apply as well assuming the noise exceeds the limit.   There may be an applicable nuisance ordinance for your county.

Baron235

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #38 on: March 28, 2014, 12:52:14 PM »
. . .

There is definitely a clause about dog barking in the HOA rules ("No animal shall be allowed to make an unreasonable amount of noise, or to become a nuisance") - I made sure that clause was there before we bought this property. Unfortunately I recently looked through the HOA document more carefully and there is a clause that we didn't notice before: "No warranty of enforceability. While Declarant has no reason to believe that any of the covenants, terms of provisions of this Declaration are or may be invalid or unenforceable for any reason or to any extent, Declarant makes no warranty or representation as to the present or future validity or enforceability of any such covenant, term or provision. Any Owner acquiring a Lot in reliance on one or more of such convenants, terms or provisions shall assume all risks of the validity and enforceability thereof, and by acquiring such Lot agrees to hold Declarant harmless therefrom." So it would seem that they are trying to say that they don't need to enforce anything and can't be held responsible.

. . .

IMO. You interpretation is incorrect.    This is saying that HOA is not guaranteeing that the rules listed in the document are actually legal, so don't sue us later if you can't enforce them.    Very common disclaimer and it doesn't mean that they don't need to be enforced. 
« Last Edit: March 28, 2014, 12:58:46 PM by Baron235 »

frugalnacho

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #39 on: March 28, 2014, 12:52:42 PM »
I'd definitely try to make friends with the neighbors.  People just aren't asses to other people they like.  When you do speak with them, consider asking them if they would mind if you took the dogs along with you on your walks/runs?  Sometimes big barkers are just bored or have too much excess energy.     I can't stand dog-owners that just let their dogs into their yards and think that's enough exercise.  Lazy-Ass owners!  Or maybe you could buy the dogs treadmills like on "the Dog Whisperer".

But then you gotta walk someone else's dog constantly.  Dog walking is a pain in the ass.

OldDogNewTrick

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #40 on: March 28, 2014, 01:03:54 PM »
I agree with the "seriously disturbing image" posts.  +1
I'm curious about how you got your dog to understand the command to stop barking.  I've tried a variety of things and either my dog is too stupid to get it (which I doubt) or too freakin' stubborn (highly likely).  She's not really a problem barker like these dogs, but she's an old lady, starting to lose her hearing and possibly going senile, and she'll randomly convince herself that someone's at the door and tear off barking.  Luckily, our baby sleeps through this most of the time, but only most of the time.
Dogs can't eat and bark at the same time, they are mutually exclusive behaviors.

When the dog is barking, say your word (in my case it was "enough") and then immediately shove a treat under her nose. She'll have to stop barking to eat the treat. Repeat, but after saying your word delay the treat for 1 second, then 2 seconds, then 3, etc.

We also taught her to "speak" on command, helps with practicing with "enough" on command.

The other thing we did is: if she knows the command already and is still barking because she's overstimulated, physically remove her from the situation (calmly but firmly walk her by her collar to a calm spot) and have her sit or lay down until she's calmer, or at least quiet.

THIS works great on toddlers too!

prodarwin

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #41 on: March 28, 2014, 01:06:52 PM »
Instead of heading to the lawyers office I'd try speaking with your neighbors first. An easy fix might be to change their backyard time a bit to be more neighbor friendly. Why not give them a chance to work with you? You know, it is entirely possible they have NO IDEA the dogs are upsetting to you. Have you spoken to your other neighbors to find out if they are annoyed as well?

How? How can you let your dog out and have it bark for hours on end and not realize it is annoying other people? You would have to be insanely dense.

The same way some parents in public do not realize their children are obnoxious brats.

greaper007

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #42 on: March 28, 2014, 01:16:43 PM »
It seems strange that you would have to talk to the neighbors about their dog.    When I had a dog she loved to bark, but I was there when I let her outside.    I always made sure I told her to be quiet loud enough for the neighbors to know that I was on top of the situation.    Personally, if I can tell that someone is trying to stop their animal or child from making too much noise it doesn't really bother me as much.

I don't get people that have animals or children that they obviously don't want to spend time with.   Good luck.    And if suing doesn't work there's always poisoned meat....I kid I kid.

Eric

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #43 on: March 28, 2014, 01:19:22 PM »
I'd definitely try to make friends with the neighbors.  People just aren't asses to other people they like.  When you do speak with them, consider asking them if they would mind if you took the dogs along with you on your walks/runs?  Sometimes big barkers are just bored or have too much excess energy.     I can't stand dog-owners that just let their dogs into their yards and think that's enough exercise.  Lazy-Ass owners!  Or maybe you could buy the dogs treadmills like on "the Dog Whisperer".

That sounds exactly like what's going on.  Those poor dogs.  The only exercise and stimulation they get is being let out into the same small space day after day.  I hate dog owners that can't be bothered to actually walk and exercise their pets.

Numbers Man

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #44 on: March 28, 2014, 01:37:50 PM »
I'm going to raise my hand and say that I am dealing with the same issue. Our backyard backs into the golf course so there are many wild animals such as coyotes, rabbits and an occasional mountain lion roaming at night. When I first moved into my house I thought the barking was from the coyotes but later discovered it was from the dog next door. There is a doggie door in which the door goes out all hours of the night.

So after I figured out that it was a dog I went over to talk to the single guy next door about 9pm when I heard his dog barking for a solid 15 minutes. I introduced myself and asked him to lock the doggie door at night and stop his dog barking uncontrollably the rest of the time. If looks could kill, I would be dead right now. There were no more 2am and 4am, etc dog barking outside (near my bedroom window) after that conversation. But you could hear the dog barking very loudly inside. The dog's barking has stopped for the most part, especially since his woman moved in to the house. There are occasional hiccups because this guy doesn't tell his dog to stand down.

One time the dog was barking non-stop at 6:30 in the morning about 18 months ago. So I went outside on my second story bedroom balcony and saw that he was picking up after his dog and the dog was barking right next to him. I greeted him by saying "hey asshole......." since I figured we would never be buddies.

To make a long story short (by the way, telling this story is cathartic for me) the barking problem has basically gone away but it took well over a year to get to that point. Our HOA  didn't want to do crap even though there is an animal noise clause in the HOA agreement. I did call the cops about three times as well after I tried the face to face solution. If I had to do it over again I would have probably had a couple of business cards from a dog trainer to give to him and probably would have tried to meet him first before complaining about the dog. I really believe that the reason that the dog is better behaved is because his girlfriend was the voice of reason, especially when he was complaining about me badgering him about his dog.

mh1361

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #45 on: March 28, 2014, 02:17:47 PM »
I'd definitely try to make friends with the neighbors.  People just aren't asses to other people they like.  When you do speak with them, consider asking them if they would mind if you took the dogs along with you on your walks/runs?  Sometimes big barkers are just bored or have too much excess energy.     I can't stand dog-owners that just let their dogs into their yards and think that's enough exercise.  Lazy-Ass owners!  Or maybe you could buy the dogs treadmills like on "the Dog Whisperer".

But then you gotta walk someone else's dog constantly.  Dog walking is a pain in the ass.

You hate dogs. We get it.

DoubleDown

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #46 on: March 28, 2014, 02:22:13 PM »
Oh man.. this is one of my own pet peeves.

I see what you did there -- "pet" peeves!

thepokercab

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #47 on: March 28, 2014, 02:42:02 PM »
Ah, nothing gets the forum going like pets issues and bike issues.  Now if only an industrious OP out there could combine these two topics into one post/question..  Would that be like crossing the streams? 

okashira

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #48 on: March 28, 2014, 02:56:47 PM »
I'd definitely try to make friends with the neighbors.  People just aren't asses to other people they like.  When you do speak with them, consider asking them if they would mind if you took the dogs along with you on your walks/runs?  Sometimes big barkers are just bored or have too much excess energy.     I can't stand dog-owners that just let their dogs into their yards and think that's enough exercise.  Lazy-Ass owners!  Or maybe you could buy the dogs treadmills like on "the Dog Whisperer".

But then you gotta walk someone else's dog constantly.  Dog walking is a pain in the ass.

You hate dogs. We get it.

I'm actually offended that you think him walking their dogs is a reasonable solution. Sigh.

okashira

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Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
« Reply #49 on: March 28, 2014, 03:00:21 PM »
OP: you have to talk to the neighbors, and document it. Give them time after your polite requests. You may follow up with letters.

You're lucky it's only 15 min at a time and a house away. Seriously, that's not bad at all. You might just deal with it.

If it's worse then you're describing, then they probably won't give a crap or will react negatively when you ask them about the dogs. People who leave their constantly barking dog(s) out all day in a dense neighborhood typically aren't much smarter then their dog. That or they are intentionally malicious or lazy. Yes there are people like this.

Yep, if you're in unincorporated Texas, there isn't a lot the sheriff can do about it. You have to sue as a last resort (or move.)
you MAY be able to use small claims, and sue for a monetary amount with prior rulings as justification. I've read something like $20 per day.

But again, 15 min at a time, two houses away... gonna be hard to get the judges sympathy. I've seen much worse.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2014, 03:05:48 PM by okashira »