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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: OnTheMoney on March 28, 2014, 09:50:56 AM

Title: Barking dogs - nothing much changed (final update for anyone who was following)
Post by: OnTheMoney on March 28, 2014, 09:50:56 AM
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 :)
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: AJ on March 28, 2014, 09:56:26 AM
Have you tried politely talking to your neighbors about it?
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: warfreak2 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: $200k on March 28, 2014, 10:07:10 AM
You want to read your CCRs.  Almost all HOAs have nuisance prohibitions.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: MMM 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!
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Forcus 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: OldDogNewTrick 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: jpo 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...

(https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/7664570368/hA398AAA4/)

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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: frugalnacho 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: szmaine 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...

(https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/7664570368/hA398AAA4/)

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!
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: frugalnacho 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. 
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: AJ 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Cromacster 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...

(https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/7664570368/hA398AAA4/)

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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: jpo 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Exprezchef 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
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: totoro 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: SisterX 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...

(https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/7664570368/hA398AAA4/)

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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: zarfus 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. 
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: jpo 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: mboulder 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: CanuckExpat 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: frugalnacho 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?
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: frugalnacho 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Cromacster 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...

(https://i.chzbgr.com/maxW500/7664570368/hA398AAA4/)

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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: phred on March 28, 2014, 12:06:13 PM
Stupid owner probably figures dogs quiet down after he is out of sight
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: frugalnacho 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Cromacster 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: OnTheMoney 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...
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: jp 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?
 

Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: OnTheMoney 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: OnTheMoney 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Cromacster 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: jpo 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 (http://www.dogstardaily.com/taxonomy/term/121) too?
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: BlueHouse 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". 
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: phred 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: phred 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
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Ottawa 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. 
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: totoro 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Baron235 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. 
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: frugalnacho 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: OldDogNewTrick 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!
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: prodarwin 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: greaper007 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Eric 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Numbers Man 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: mh1361 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: DoubleDown 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!
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: thepokercab 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? 
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: okashira 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: okashira 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.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: zinnie on March 28, 2014, 03:01:26 PM
I know this has already been addressed, but can I just echo the sentiment of talking to the people before you talk about FILING A LAWSUIT.

A while back I moved my dogs to a cooler room for the summer while I was gone during the day, and apparently it freaked them out. They were barking all day while I was gone, and I didn't know it. It wasn't until a month or so later when one of my neighbors wrote me a letter that I knew that they were being a nuisance. The day I got that letter I solved the problem. But the poor guy had to suffer through this for months because he didn't say anything to me until he was on his last nerve. I feel/felt awful about the whole thing. We resolved it like adults, and now we are friendly with eachother.

You say they are letting the dogs bark while they are home so they know it is happening. Ok; fair enough. But they don't know that you are here stewing about this issue, have contacted the police/HOA, and are thinking about SUING them. I don't understand how it is the police or the HOA's responsiblity to tell you to approach the owners. It is possible that they would be willing to change things if you confront them. But you aren't even willing to attempt that?
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Cassie on March 28, 2014, 03:24:15 PM
In many states dogs do not have to be quiet until 10:30pm. When I lived in  a condo I started to use a fan for white noise when I wanted to sleep so I would not feel like killing people:))  This may work for you. I also would nicely try to talk to the owners. We have 3 small dogs and I would never allow them to annoy people like that all day. Our neighbor's dog sometimes barks alot during the day but not every day. Sometimes I yell at it & if they hear me they bring it in. 
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: trailrated on March 28, 2014, 03:33:27 PM
I agree with many of the posters advising you to speak with the people first to attempt to resolve the issue. It is within their power to do something to resolve it in a responsible manner if it is brought to their attention.

I know this does not directly apply and might be comparing apples to oranges but the business I work for has been in the same location the past 30 years. Some housing developments sprung up within the last 5 years and they constantly complain about the noise our business creates (we start operating at 5:00am Monday-Friday) and have attempted to sue due to the noise. In this case I think it is absolutely ridiculous.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: eil on March 28, 2014, 03:48:29 PM
Geez, HOAs are the devil. Even when you think you're going to protect you or your property values, they include a weasely clause that lets them opt-out of actually enforcing the rules they don't feel like enforcing. I've only ever heard horror stories about HOAs, like people getting forcibly foreclosed upon because they didn't keep their grass green through the winter and stuff like that.

Anyway, /rant. I was going to post a link to an electronic device that one could use to "acoustically manage" the canines and their barking. Rumored to be very effective. But unfortunately, the device still appears to be in the pre-prototype phase.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: $200k on March 28, 2014, 03:54:59 PM
Geez, HOAs are the devil. Even when you think you're going to protect you or your property values, they include a weasely clause that lets them opt-out of actually enforcing the rules they don't feel like enforcing. I've only ever heard horror stories about HOAs, like people getting forcibly foreclosed upon because they didn't keep their grass green through the winter and stuff like that.

Anyway, /rant. I was going to post a link to an electronic device that one could use to "acoustically manage" the canines and their barking. Rumored to be very effective. But unfortunately, the device still appears to be in the pre-prototype phase.

I would have refused to do anything too, if I knew OP didn't speak with the neighbor first.  I'm in no way defending the HOA btw.  Some HOAs are good; some bad.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: lisahi on March 28, 2014, 04:21:32 PM
As others have mentioned, you need to talk to the owners if you expect anything to get done. Even if they know their dogs are barking, they may not know it bothers you. For dog owners, the sound of their own dogs barking isn't as bothersome, especially if they're inside and their dogs are outside.

As a dog owner myself, I am not all that bothered by dogs in my neighborhood barking (and there are a lot of them). My dogs bark, but not at everything that passes by--usually just at birds on the power lines in the back or loud children playing in the school yard that backs my house (in that case, my dogs are simply adding to an already noisy situation, so I don't really think it adds any nuisance). My backyard has a privacy fence so they can't see anything that isn't up 6 or more feet. And they stay inside most of the time, including at night.

The best thing to prevent heavy nuisance barking is to limit a dog's triggers. Don't let a dog look out the window.  Don't let a dog see through a fence. Most dogs are sight-oriented when it comes to nuisance barking. Tipping off your neighbors to how much it bothers you could allow them to make some simple changes that prevent the dogs from seeing things that trigger barking.

Someone else mentioned that dogs bark for a reason--they do. It may not be a reason you think is good or important or even logical, but they have a reason for barking. It could be defense of territory, location barking (here I am! or I am here, stay away!), or play barking (dogs in pairs or groups may bark at each other as part of play). The barking is only a "nuisance" because we as humans deem it to be. Dogs can be taught to stop barking, although I hate shock collars and sprays, which simply tell the dog to shut up, regardless of the situation, even if it was legitimate (like, barking at a snake to make his human aware that there's something scary or wrong or dangerous nearby). You're quieting a means of communication between the dog and his human and the dog and other dogs. The best thing to do is take the dog away from situations where he would feel the need to bark, and distract him from barking should he begin to be a nuisance and there's no real reason why he needs to be barking.

ETA: The dogs are barking during the day time. I'm not sure suing your neighbors is going to do any good if there's no noise ordinance that prevents the dogs from being vocal during the day (and 7:15 am could be considered the day time). If they were barking in the middle of the night, and there were laws against noise pollution at night, then maybe you could sue. But you have to talk to your neighbors first, or else suing them would look very disingenuous.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Christiana on March 28, 2014, 04:48:39 PM
I'd get an ultrasonic barking deterrent unit and do some quiet experimentation...two houses away is probably close enough for the neighbor's dogs to hear it from your yard.  A little tinkering, and you could have a secret STFU button by your bedside.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Numbers Man on March 28, 2014, 05:09:20 PM
I'd get an ultrasonic barking deterrent unit and do some quiet experimentation...two houses away is probably close enough for the neighbor's dogs to hear it from your yard.  A little tinkering, and you could have a secret STFU button by your bedside.

Those ultrasonic devices are a waste of money(been there, done that). You would probably get more bang for your buck by using an air horn to annoy the Dog's master.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Joel on March 28, 2014, 07:10:49 PM
Have you tried politely talking to your neighbors about it?

This.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: eman resu on March 28, 2014, 07:56:50 PM
Cops and lawyers over barking dogs?! The local police and suits would laugh me out of town...

Anyway, you have every right to be upset over what this is doing to your quality of life. You should be downright angry that someone is abusing his dogs: the incessant barking is a symptom of boredom, stress, loneliness, etc.   Go over and tell this jagoff to take care of his dogs properly or give them to someone who will/can.  If you need to involve other parties to get this done, so be it.  Sorry that you have to deal with this issue.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: phred on March 28, 2014, 08:06:46 PM
I wonder if the SPCA could give you some good advice on this?  Some SPCAs do have police powers if dogs are treated cruelly.

Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: johnintaiwan on March 28, 2014, 08:24:58 PM
One of the neighbors on our block really hates dogs. Our neighbor across the street has a dog that barks a lot. It doesnt really bother me since it is usually very quick and only a few times a day. But I am worried because we have a dog as well (though she has never been a barker). There are also a few more dogs around that occasionally bark. I am a little afraid that the neighbor who hates dogs may take it out on my dog.

The dog hating neighbor is pretty crazy, even going as far as trying to run down the barking dog with his car. OP could try that route, but I should warn them that this resulted in the dogs owner attacking him with an ax.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: moosestache on March 28, 2014, 10:03:53 PM
If the neighbors are elderly or hard of hearing then it is possible that they really don't notice the barking frequency and intensity like you do.  Good luck, barking dogs are very frustrating!
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: wtjbatman on March 28, 2014, 10:13:41 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. 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...

That should almost always be your first option. I'm kind of surprised the police (animal control) advised you not to even try and talk to them about it. I'm not sure how it would make things worse. Maybe they encourage their dogs to bark more? Let's hope not!

Honestly I might try talking without the printouts first. But either way, politely talk to them, discuss your concerns, and give them a chance to solve the problem. If not, then escalate the issue.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Joel on March 28, 2014, 10:34:33 PM
We currently live in a condo and have a neighbor with an annoying yipping dog. She actually came banging on our door recently and told us she called our landlord for slamming our garage door, and he asked if she talked to us first, and then told her to say something to us. She was a rude bitch when she approached us. Without even considering her yipping dog. The way she approached us makes me want to slam the door on purpose now, when we didn't even realize it was being slammed. (It's one of those doors that shuts automatically and it's pretty heavy).

Needless to say, if you want people to care about your feelings, talk with them first. Be understanding. Don't be rude and self centered. You have to approach it in the right way. I don't think I bringing advertisements for some training collar is the right way to approach it. That's something likely to offend the person. I know it would offend me.

You have to think about how you would feel if you were the one being approached.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Blindsquirrel on March 28, 2014, 11:40:23 PM
  A dog DAZER can be great fun as mutts will go ballistic when you hit the button. Good fun for late night walks or when you leave for work at 5 am. We actually moved as our Dbag neighbor got endlessly yappy mutts and was a jerk about it. The funny thing is he is a part time preacher and was very offended when I asked him who would Jesus be an A$$hole to after being polite waaay too many times? He will live next to section 8 tenants as long as we own the property and since he is a racist cracker he is irked to no end. If you let your mutts yap, be aware that you may get waay worse neighbors than you had before.  If the ROI is good, he will get section 8 tenants on the other side of him as well in the next year or two. :)
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: nicknageli on March 29, 2014, 08:35:32 AM
I feel your pain.  We have neighbors in our HOA who have two dogs that are bigger than the HOA rules allow.  The owners let them out very late at night to run around and bark (or very early in the morning at times).  Then the neighbors go out on their patio to whistle and yell at them to be quiet.  The HOA rules require pets to be on leashes whenever they're outside.  These owners don't care.

Everyone who says that dog owners should just teach their dogs to learn commands, like "enough" or "quiet" or whatever, don't understand that all it takes is one bark or one yell of "QUIET!" at midnight to wake people up.  Doesn't matter if it's one bark or 10-minutes of barking, neighbors end up getting woke up.  My sleep gets interrupted and it varies how long it takes to fall back asleep.  Sometimes this happens many nights in a row.

Those who say you should just talk to the owners may not understand how scary that could be.  You have no idea what type of people are living 10" away from you through a wall.  Dog owners often treat their pets like children.  Even if I was syrupy sweet to them about their pets and their noise, what's to stop them from taking it completely wrong and turn from a bad neighbor to an awful neighbor?  For all I know my telling them that they and their dogs are too loud at inappropriate times is the equivalent of calling them fat and ugly.

Our HOA needs to grow a spine and start enforcing the rules.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Daleth on March 29, 2014, 09:44:05 AM
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.

I don't agree that that's the proper interpretation of the "no warranty of enforceability." This isn't my area of law at all, so take this with a grain of salt, but I am a lawyer and my take on clauses like that is just that they mean "we don't know for sure that all our rules are legal as written or would be enforced if we end up in court, and we certainly can't guarantee that our rules will all still be legal as written in the future since the law could change or courts could change how they interpret contracts like this, but by signing this you're agreeing not to come after us if it turns out we wrote this contract badly and the provision you cared about ended up not being enforceable."

In other words to me it just looks like a CYA "you can't sue us if it turns out we are legally unable to enforce all the rules set forth in this contract." I would not at all read it as meaning "you can't sue us if we just capriciously decide not to enforce our own rules." You acted in reliance on their rules--in other words, one of the reasons you chose to move there and pay them a bunch of money was because they had this rule.

So if your nice talk to the neighbors doesn't work--and I think talking to them as you describe is a good plan--you should go to the HOA with a copy of that document and point out that their rules specifically forbid noisy animals. You could even say (whether or not this is true) that the sheriff told you that since this is a violation of HOA rules, it needs to go through the HOA. It is not the sheriff's job to enforce HOA rules (that's true whether the sheriff told you it or not).

Then if that doesn't work, you may want to simultaneously talk to a local lawyer about getting the HOA to act, and get to know your neighbors better so you have a better sense of what's really going on (for instance, are the noisy-dog neighbors relatives or good friends of some powerful HOA person--is that why the rules aren't being enforced? If so, time to bust out the lawyer--not with a lawsuit but with what we lawyers actually do call a "mean lawyer letter").

Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Catbert on March 29, 2014, 11:10:18 AM
If you don't want to talk to your neighbor, how are you going to feel when a neighbor goes to HOA or police about your child rather than just talking to you.  Maybe that crying in the middle of the night disturbs a neighbor who sleeps with their window open.  Or toddler tantrums wake up a day sleeping neighbor.  Or their trike/bike does damage to landscaping/irrigation system.  Or your 16 y.o. drives crazy when you're not home. 

I bet you'd be pissed off royally if a neighbor did that to you.   
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: frugalnacho on March 29, 2014, 01:48:10 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.

No I just don't like doing free work for other people.  You can come walk my dog if you like.  And you can clean my cat's litter box too.  You can come cut my grass too, or do you hate plants?
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: marty998 on March 29, 2014, 03:43:33 PM
I'd get an ultrasonic barking deterrent unit and do some quiet experimentation...two houses away is probably close enough for the neighbor's dogs to hear it from your yard.  A little tinkering, and you could have a secret STFU button by your bedside.

Those ultrasonic devices are a waste of money(been there, done that). You would probably get more bang for your buck by using an air horn to annoy the Dog's master.

It's a last resort but hot damn it worked for us when we had a neighbourly dog problem. It helped that we were not on speaking terms due to the neighbours parking an ugly unregistered boat and trailer in front of our house, poisoning our lawn with chlorine from their pool and planting toxic weeds on the fence that grew onto our side.

For those unaware, the device emits a very high frequency sound audible to dogs but not to humans. The dogs get the message very quickly. After a week you don't even need to press the button, they just need to see the device in your hand and they stop barking.


Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: letro on March 29, 2014, 03:55:56 PM
Call the dog warden.  The dog warden tells me to never, never talk to people about dogs.  You know all dogs are wonderful.  The problem is never the dogs it's the crazy neighbor, bad marriage or disobedient kids.  All areas have rules about dog noise and dogs running free.  CALL the dog warden.  In our town you can have the dog owner in court in one week via dog warden. My favorite solution buy a mountain lion, dreaming.  If you have coyotes the dogs and cats start to disappear, a great natural service.  The ultrasonic don't work I tried it.  Boy that dog warden works like a charm taxes at work.   Keep smiling letro 
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: LowER on March 29, 2014, 04:08:18 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?

I agree.  I was one of those owners of a loud and fairly constantly barking dog that hardly barked when I was home.  I worked long hours.  My neighbor put up with it for years (silently) and then had bad comments from potential buyers when trying to sell. 

He told me, and I could hear and respect the reluctance in his voice, and then I fixed it, nearly immediately.

No hard feelings on either side that I know of.

Just take a deep breath, knock on their front door, and share your thoughts.

If my neighbor would have had his lawyer or the HOA contact me first, it wouldn't have gone well at all.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Spork on March 29, 2014, 04:25:12 PM

I'm going to take a different route and ask: Is it possible there is a different issue?  I.e, stress at home/job on your part?  New baby not sleeping and making you grumpy?  Or some reason you don't like the neighbor?

I know someone else's noise isn't the optimal thing you want to hear... but I see people that learn to live next to railroad tracks and sleep through the trains... They tune it out.

Is it really the dogs that bother you?  Or are you bothered by your own stewing?

I'd say suing over a barking dog (or a loud child or ...) when you haven't spoken to them is the very definition of a frivolous lawsuit.  And calling the cops for a barking dog... even though it's annoying... is frivolous use of the police.

You're likely to live there a long time.  Making a feud with a neighbor will make your life (and theirs) miserable.  Try to find a way to live with them or at least talk with them.  And don't go barging over there and knock when you're grumpy and mad.  Find a way to befriend them first.  Have a beer with them... Do something to establish a relationship first.  Otherwise you're just going to be thought of as the grumpy, annoying neighbor. They'll bristle and think ill of you JUST LIKE YOU'RE FEELING ABOUT THEM.

TL;DR: learn to ignore it or deal with it rationally.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: lisahi on March 29, 2014, 05:42:42 PM
Cops and lawyers over barking dogs?! The local police and suits would laugh me out of town...

Anyway, you have every right to be upset over what this is doing to your quality of life. You should be downright angry that someone is abusing his dogs: the incessant barking is a symptom of boredom, stress, loneliness, etc.   Go over and tell this jagoff to take care of his dogs properly or give them to someone who will/can.  If you need to involve other parties to get this done, so be it.  Sorry that you have to deal with this issue.

Yeah, no. A barking dog does not equal an abused dog. First off, what the OP described I wouldn't call it incessant barking. The dogs bark on and off during the day, probably due to seeing things in the back yard (like a bird or a squirrel). Maybe they're even playing with each other. One of my dogs barks when he's playing. Some dogs are more vocal because of their breed. Some tend to be more protective (and so are more likely to bark at people walking outside or a cat passing by). They could be more vocal because they are with other dogs and barking is a form of communication.

Now, that's not to say that, if the dog is barking all the time, inside and out, that the owners shouldn't do their part in keeping the dog occupied or to train their dogs better. But there are a lot of reasons why dogs bark--boredom is just one of them. Should these particular owners probably do a better job of directing their dogs to more productive activities? Probably, yes. They should probably be outside with the dogs. But do we know that these dogs are abused and living a terrible life? No, we don't. Frankly, when my dog is barking at a bird, he's pretty dang happy doing it, especially when the bird flies and he can then chase the bird until it disappears over the fence. When he's barking as part of play, I'm pretty positive he's having the best time ever.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: fixer-upper on March 29, 2014, 09:11:53 PM
TL;DR

Talk to the neighbor.  If that doesn't work, tell the HOA to get off their ass and enforce the rules.  If that doesn't work, bring it up at an HOA meeting, and advise the group that you may need to sue the HOA for breach of contract.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: StarryC on March 29, 2014, 09:50:24 PM
I am not your lawyer, and I don't even know what state you are in.  Yes, there could be a lawsuit filed over this.  However, lawyers like to be paid in money.  Hundreds of dollars an hour.  Filing a lawsuit costs money, hundreds of dollars.  Lawsuits take a long time to resolve, months and even a few years.  Right now, you think "If I hire a lawyer, this will be out of my hands and fixed in a few weeks."  But that's not guaranteed to be true.  Also, when you think about "gathering evidence" for the trial, you might need to do that eventually, but no need to preserve the evidence of the noise by avoiding asking them to stop the noise.  If it stops, and there is no evidence, that's great, right?

I know it seems like they "can't not know"  but they can: they just don't realize it is annoying to other people because it isn't annoying to them, or it is annoying to them, but they don't realize how far the sound carries.    Or, they think it might annoy others, but they haven't had any complaints so it must not. 

I wouldn't start by telling them that they need to walk the dogs more or that they are doing anything wrong.  Let them try to solve it on their own before you start saying things that might make them defensive. 
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: OnTheMoney on March 29, 2014, 10:10:20 PM
Thanks everyone for the suggestions, sympathy and different perspectives. And the legal interpretations. Here's an update for anyone who's interested:

We spoke with the owner this evening. Actually we tried a couple of times before and they were not home either time. We have the impression that she isn't home much.

Anyway, we counted 4 dogs inside that we could see all at once, with a possible 5th. They were barking and running around like crazy inside just like they do outside.

We were very nice and friendly but also firm. She was also friendly, but full of excuses.

"Oh, you must be hearing the dogs next door." "No... they are your dogs..." "Well, the ones next door bark as well." "Maybe they do, but we can't hear them. We know it's your dogs because we can clearly see them barking from our upstairs windows."

She apologized but said that dogs bark and there's not much she can really do about it. I pointed out that the HOA rules prohibit dog barking. And we pointed out that there are plenty of other dogs around that don't bark excessively.

Then she tried "Well I'm very surprised [i.e. doubtful] that you can hear them barking from inside your house..." but we had dates and times and she eventually acknowledged that they were indeed her dogs barking at all of those times. (e.g. the regular 15 min blocks are when she's in the shower and the literally constant barking for more than 4 hours starting at 7.30am on Friday was when a cleaner visited and the others throughout the day are when she lets them out.)

Then she acknowledged that they really do bark a lot (hard not to, with them all still barking like crazy the whole time behind her) but that she thought nobody cared because they were all at work. Sorry, DH works from home and I'm home with the baby too, so...

Then she said that she needed to talk to the neighbor on the other side because they were the problem because all of the dogs are having a turf war through the fence. (Note that the fences are all proper wooden ones that you can't see through.) She said that it's their fault because they leave their dogs outside all the time so she can never let hers out. They would need to agree to set up a schedule for them to bring theirs inside so she can let hers out. I mentioned that I've actually also seen her dogs barking at their back fence (i.e. at different neighbors) and also at squirrels running along the fence on our side too, so I'm not sure how much that would help, even if they'd agree.

She said that dogs will always bark and that she needs to let them outside a few times per day. I agreed that she needs to let them out but didn't agree that all dogs bark. I've had dogs most of my life that didn't bark, and other dogs in the neighborhood bark every so often "but not like that" (gesturing behind her since of course they were still all barking like crazy).

Slowly she was being forced to acknowledge that her dogs ("babies") were a problem. She mentioned that she's been here for longer than 15 years. (Our house was also built at that time although we've only been here a few months.) Not sure whether that was perhaps supposed to be intimidating but instead I took the opportunity to mention that we actually double-checked the HOA rules and dog barking unfortunately really isn't allowed. She said that all the houses behind her have dogs too. I repeated that they weren't a problem (but it might explain why none of them have apparently complained thus far).

Throughout the conversation we brought up the idea of barking collars a few times but she wasn't keen. She said she didn't want to put a "shock collar" on them. I said there were some other options, like citronella. She hadn't heard about them. (I had a printout in my pocket but thought it would be a bit too abrasive to show it to her at that time.) I said I'm pretty sure they exist and that I'd be happy to print something out for her and leave it on her doorstep. She said that she'd look at.

She said she could try to let them out one at a time, and maybe stand at the back door sometimes to try to supervise, but acknowledged that they would still bark a bit. I wasn't sure how to politely say "that's a nice gesture but unfortunately not really good enough" so I just kept raising the training and/or dog collar idea and I think she got the message.

[This is actually why I started the thread in the first place. Perhaps I should have called the topic "Could we sue" rather than "Can we sue", but I wanted to know what our options were, to know whether we had a legal right - with good chance of positive outcome - to insist that she really fixes the problem rather than just "doing her best" or "trying", especially when she acknowledges from the outset that such attempts probably wouldn't be all that successful. If we thought/knew that there really wasn't anything at all that we could legally do to make the situation better then we would have needed to just accept any such attempts on her side as a fortunate improvement that didn't need to happen.]

I then asked her if the dogs ever got walked, since we do quite a lot of walking around all the streets and trails in the neighborhood and we've never seen them. She said that her husband was out of town at the moment for work (gone for some time and unfortunately not expected back anytime soon), he's usually the one who walks them, and confessed that going for walks "really isn't my favorite thing to do". I jumped on the opportunity to tell her "but it's THEIR favorite thing to do! And they're your babies!" with lots of encouraging smiles. I reminded her that dogs are very smart and need the mental stimulation of new environments, in addition to the exercise which they also really need. Hopefully that sinks in. I'll add a note about dog walkers in the neighborhood when I put the other stuff together.

ETA: We also chatted briefly about some other stuff so she knows that we're nice people :)

Overall, my impression is that she knows that the barking is annoying and way out of control and that it possibly disturbed some people but was just hoping that she could continue to get away with it. I mentioned that I'd give her "a week or two" to organize some collars and stuff. And I will put the info together for her and drop it at her doorstep tomorrow. Hopefully it will be enough, although I have a feeling that it won't be the last time we need to go talk to her. I'll talk to her once more but after that we'll need to demand that the HOA do something about it.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: OnTheMoney on March 29, 2014, 10:15:46 PM
To answer a few more questions that popped up:

* I'd absolutely love a STFU button and we actually did look into those ultrasonic things a while ago, but we weren't convinced about them based on the reviews and we weren't sure it would work so far away. We also didn't want to punish the other dogs around here who aren't barking excessively.

* White noise machine is a good idea, actually we've been trying to use it already and it does work well if all the windows are closed. The barking is too loud through the open windows though.

* Maybe I am a bit too sensitive to noise, but DH and baby are not, and they are also affected. And we are otherwise very positive people, thank you for asking :)

* The dogs bark NON STOP whenever they are let out into their yard. It is not at a single bird here or there. It is constant. There are 4+ dogs and at any particular time point, at least one of them has his mouth open to bark. As I said, I've had dogs most of my life and this is ridiculous. Even if it wasn't a HOA area, it would be ridiculous. They seem to all bark constantly just because each other are barking.

* Yes, I now agree that HOAs suck. Actually I feel bad about it because I read through the thread on this forum before we even bought the house and I read the warnings but decided to do it anyway. We really wanted the peace and quiet. I guess that's why we're so frustrated about the whole thing. Anyway, next time we'll pay more attention to the MMM wisdom :)

* As I mentioned in an earlier post, I contacted the HOA first because I consider the enforcement of their rules to be part of the service that we're paying for. I wouldn't run after people who let their dogs crap on the sidewalk and make them pick it up, or clean the public toilets in the park. They have a web form set up for reporting these issues and employ staff to handle them.

* It was the HOA who advised us (after knowing that we had not contacted the owners) to file a complaint with the Sheriff's office. And they mentioned civil action. And it was the Sheriff's office who said that in their experience, chatting with the owners probably wouldn't do much good (at least in the long term) and that we should consider civil action because that's usually the best motivator. Perhaps they also knew how strongly people felt about these issues and knew that people have guns here and have seen things end badly so that's why they don't advise it, I'm not sure. It's a nice area here with good schools etc but even just down the street we saw a truck with a sticker on the back saying "An armed society is a polite society" (DH stopped to gawk at it but I hurried him along...).

* Although I personally find it cruel to keep so many dogs constrained in a house/backyard all the time, I don't think it would be considered cruelty to animals. She does seem like a nice lady and she mentioned that she shows the dogs so I guess she takes good care of them otherwise. Hopefully she'll walk them now.

* Regarding preserving the evidence, I was hoping to avoid the situation where she manages to reduce the barking down to 5-10 min blocks (which still wake us up, disturb us, annoy us, etc) and a judge having a similar opinion to some posts above, i.e. "it's ONLY 5 minutes at a time?! Are you crazy? What's the problem here?" whereas if it went on for longer then we'd have a stronger case. Or for the barking to go from fairly predictable in large chunks to smaller random chunks and pieces throughout the day that may be harder to catch on video. Especially if all attempts are short-lived anyway. But yes, it would definitely be great if there was no evidence anymore!

* Attending a HOA meeting is a great idea, to get a feel for the situation, we should do that.

Thanks again everyone! I'll post an update in a couple of weeks for anyone who's interested.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: fixer-upper on March 29, 2014, 11:56:59 PM
* It was the HOA who advised us (after knowing that we had not contacted the owners) to file a complaint with the Sheriff's office. And they mentioned civil action. And it was the Sheriff's office who said that in their experience, chatting with the owners probably wouldn't do much good (at least in the long term) and that we should consider civil action because that's usually the best motivator. Perhaps they also knew how strongly people felt about these issues and knew that people have guns here and have seen things end badly so that's why they don't advise it, I'm not sure. It's a nice area here with good schools etc but even just down the street we saw a truck with a sticker on the back saying "An armed society is a polite society" (DH stopped to gawk at it but I hurried him along...).

* Attending a HOA meeting is a great idea, to get a feel for the situation, we should do that.

I don't see any grounds for you to sue the person, especially if there's no law being broken.  You might be able to make something stick, but only at a large expense to yourself.

The HOA sounds like they were trying to pass the buck.  You do have a legitimate claim against them, but only if you attempt to get them to fulfill their duties, and can document that they're in breach of contract.  Once again, you'd have to pay a minimum of an hour's time just to get a lawyer to write them a nasty letter.  Suing them could cost thousands.

If dealing with the homeowner doesn't work, you should definitely complain at the HOA meeting.  Once the issue is out in the open, it won't be so easy for them to shrug you off.

The bumper sticker is a Robert Heinlein quote.  He wrote some great science fiction from the 1930's through the 1980's, and it's amazing how accurately he foretold our present society.  His first novel (written 80 years ago) perfectly described our present economic problems, demonstrated a reasonable attempt at a cure for over-concentration of wealth, and even hinted at the internet.  He was quite brilliant.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: wtjbatman on March 30, 2014, 12:32:14 AM
Perhaps they also knew how strongly people felt about these issues and knew that people have guns here and have seen things end badly so that's why they don't advise it, I'm not sure. It's a nice area here with good schools etc but even just down the street we saw a truck with a sticker on the back saying "An armed society is a polite society" (DH stopped to gawk at it but I hurried him along...).

Did you just move to Texas? I live in Liberal-hell Minnesota and even I wouldn't blink at that bumper sticker. Although we're a good mix of far left and far right around here, so I guess I'm used to contrasting views.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: T-Rex on March 30, 2014, 03:09:56 AM
My cat went into my neighbor's house and ate their bird. I apologized profusely, though I privately wondered who would let a pet bird fly free around the house with the front door open. Surprisingly, they accepted my apology. Sometimes it is just better to try get along with your neighbors because it could work. So, I agree that you should first try to be diplomatic.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: warfreak2 on March 30, 2014, 04:03:35 AM
Those who say you should just talk to the owners may not understand how scary that could be.  You have no idea what type of people are living 10" away from you through a wall.  Dog owners often treat their pets like children.  Even if I was syrupy sweet to them about their pets and their noise, what's to stop them from taking it completely wrong and turn from a bad neighbor to an awful neighbor?  For all I know my telling them that they and their dogs are too loud at inappropriate times is the equivalent of calling them fat and ugly.
Sure, there are some people like that, but realistically they are going to be even more pissed off with you if you file a lawsuit without talking to them about it first.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: nicknageli on March 30, 2014, 06:50:00 AM
OnTheMoney, thanks or the detailed update.  It went a little better than I figured it would, but it's still frustrating that the neighbor thinks that excuses are justifcation for not following HOA rules.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Greg on March 30, 2014, 09:19:11 PM
Dogs bark, it's what they do.  Many dog owners have become used to the sound, and because it's their dog(s) aren't bothered by it.  A polite and friendly (try joking around) conversation about it is STEP ONE.  You may find they're otherwise really great people and you like them, they like you, and the problem will solve itself if you form a friendship.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: phred on March 31, 2014, 01:34:01 PM
1. If the dogs interfere with your normal sleep patterns, they can be declared a private nuisance and abatement ordered.  You will need an attorney for this.  Make a tape recording of the dogs barking from 7:15 to 8:00 (the entire time) with a radio also playing that frequently gives the time.

2. At the next HOA meeting ask that it be disbanded as it seems to be useless
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Spork on March 31, 2014, 02:02:34 PM
1. If the dogs interfere with your normal sleep patterns, they can be declared a private nuisance and abatement ordered.  You will need an attorney for this.  Make a tape recording of the dogs barking from 7:15 to 8:00 (the entire time) with a radio also playing that frequently gives the time.

2. At the next HOA meeting ask that it be disbanded as it seems to be useless

so here's the problem....  I had a friend on the other end of this.  She was the one with the dogs.  In her case the problem was that the neighbor didn't like her alternative lifestyle and ... well, they were just looking for things to complain about.

So they both went to war... for years.  My friend got an official warning.  Something like "not before 8am or after 10pm" ... and because they were neighbors at war, guess what happened.   My friend made damn sure the dogs were barking at exactly 8:01 and that they went out for a last barking fit at exactly 9:59.  (You may point out that she was being petty... and you'll be somewhat correct.  That's beside the point.)

On the whole: both sides here escalated and consistently made things worse and worse.

I still think trying NOT to put them on the defensive is the best strategy.  It's likely that they will be neighbors for years.  Making your home the site of a neighbor feud seems like bad for everyone.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: zachd on March 31, 2014, 08:25:21 PM
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?

Not sure why this is so hard to believe.. same way people don't seem to care that their kids are running around, screaming, and generally being shit heads in public pardon the french. 
If it's your kids/dogs you don't really care and you must become accustomed to the sound of them screaming/barking all day long because it certainly doesn't seem to bother them I see it all th e time.

I have not seen ear plugs mentioned in this thread.

Also, I would try and build a consensus with all the neighbors.  Maybe someone else will volunteer to talk to them first.  Maybe they already have.  Talk to them.



Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: NeverWasACornflakeGirl on April 01, 2014, 06:02:29 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?

Not sure why this is so hard to believe.. same way people don't seem to care that their kids are running around, screaming, and generally being shit heads in public pardon the french. 
If it's your kids/dogs you don't really care and you must become accustomed to the sound of them screaming/barking all day long because it certainly doesn't seem to bother them I see it all th e time.

I have not seen ear plugs mentioned in this thread.

Also, I would try and build a consensus with all the neighbors.  Maybe someone else will volunteer to talk to them first.  Maybe they already have.  Talk to them.

Agreed on all counts, zachd.  I have to admit that as a parent and a dog owner I sometimes catch myself falling into this.  I don't leave my dog out for long periods of time, but when I do let him out he sometimes starts barking, and it's true that you develop a certain "deafness" for it when it's your own dog.  Same thing with kids.  My sister and I agree that when our girls are singing the same lines from a song over, and over, and over to the point of insanity we have learned to just tune them out and we don't even hear them any more.  Any normal, sane person would want to choke them!  I found this out with my mantle clock, too.  It ticks loudly and chimes every quarter of an hour.  I love the sound and I honestly do not even hear it any more.  But when my sister came to visit she had to stop the clock so she could sleep.

This is not to say that I allow my daughter to do be annoying and rude in public; I don't.  Or that I allow my dog to go outside and bark at all hours because I don't do that, either.  It's just an acknowledgement that, yes, it's quite possible that your neighbors don't even notice the barking and that you should try talking to them first nicely.

Update:  Edited for clarity
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: frugalnacho on April 01, 2014, 08:02:42 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?

Not sure why this is so hard to believe.. same way people don't seem to care that their kids are running around, screaming, and generally being shit heads in public pardon the french. 
If it's your kids/dogs you don't really care and you must become accustomed to the sound of them screaming/barking all day long because it certainly doesn't seem to bother them I see it all th e time.

I have not seen ear plugs mentioned in this thread.

Also, I would try and build a consensus with all the neighbors.  Maybe someone else will volunteer to talk to them first.  Maybe they already have.  Talk to them.

It's hard to believe because even in the personal example you just used you can still hear your dogs and kids, you just don't care.  Not caring is vastly different from being unable to hear, because one makes you a negligent asshole.   And yes I see it all the time, people are constantly assholes and let their dogs and kids run wild with no restrictions even though it infringes upon other people.  That doesn't make it right.

And why should the op have to wear earplugs in her own house just because the neighbor can't control her own dogs?

I also don't get why the op should ever volunteer to walk her dogs for her.  Her dogs, her responsibility.  If you don't want to walk your own damn dogs then don't get them.  Should my neighbors walk my dog because I don't feel like being a responsible dog owner?  Should they come and clean up the dog shit out of my yard to prevent a neighborhood rat problem because I am lazy?
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: BlueHouse on April 01, 2014, 01:31:14 PM
I think you have to decide which battles are worth fighting.  I'm pretty sure I have misophonia because some noises make me crazy.  Just knowing there is a name for this has made it better and is helping me to cope with certain sounds better than I used to.  Anytime anybody eats near me at the office, I reach for my headphones.  Slurping hot coffee?  I take a bathroom or fresh air break.  People walking loudly on the floor above me, or next door, I try to pretend they are loved ones just coming home for the day and I picture them playing a fun game.  Dog barking?  Force yourself to smile and pretend it's your dog and you love it, or actually get to know and love the dog.  It's funny how much you can tolerate when you love the critter/child/thing. 

Does it work everytime?  nope.  Should you "have" to do this?  nope.  Is it their problem or my problem?  hmmmm.  yeah, that's the thing.  It ends up being my problem and I'm the one losing my mind over it.  So think about whether it's more important for you to keep your sanity, or if it's more important to find another way to cope.   
If you plan on living there for a while, find some way to like your neighbor and her dog enough so that you find it endearing instead of annoying.  I know this sounds Pollyanna-ish, but at some point you realize it's just not worth it to let outside things annoy you anymore. 

By the way, I figured this out because I used to get irate when one of my neighbors (somewhat regularly) blocked my access to my garage.  I realized that I didn't get mad if my other neighbor (a friend) blocked it - I excused it as a mere inconvenience and went over to see what my friend was doing.  I realized that if I treated the other neighbor the same way, then maybe we would become friends too.  Now we're friendly (not exactly friends) and the blocking of my garage has really decreased.  I think going over there to just talk while my garage was blocked (and staying until it was unblocked, without looking like I was in a hurry) is starting to build a friendship and there is more respect both ways.   Oh, also, that same neighbor literally saved my life a few months ago, so she now gets a free pass for ANYTHING.  I will never ever complain again about anything she does. 
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: Cassie on April 01, 2014, 03:33:08 PM
Also many people have different noise tolerance levels. Mine is pretty high & it takes a lot to annoy me. When my friend comes over if we are sitting outside she will yell at the neighbor dog for barking-most of the time I just ignore it.  When I was going to college & raising 3 little boys I would study in the main area so I could intervene on disagreements, etc. My sister who never had kids said"How can you study in this nut house?"  It never was a problem for me.  Where we live they will not do anything unless the dog is barking after 10:30pm at nite or before 6 in am. So you probably need to know what the city/county rules are for this type of thing.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: okashira on April 01, 2014, 03:59:49 PM
To answer a few more questions that popped up:

* I'd absolutely love a STFU button and we actually did look into those ultrasonic things a while ago, but we weren't convinced about them based on the reviews and we weren't sure it would work so far away. We also didn't want to punish the other dogs around here who aren't barking excessively.

* White noise machine is a good idea, actually we've been trying to use it already and it does work well if all the windows are closed. The barking is too loud through the open windows though.

* Maybe I am a bit too sensitive to noise, but DH and baby are not, and they are also affected. And we are otherwise very positive people, thank you for asking :)

* The dogs bark NON STOP whenever they are let out into their yard. It is not at a single bird here or there. It is constant. There are 4+ dogs and at any particular time point, at least one of them has his mouth open to bark. As I said, I've had dogs most of my life and this is ridiculous. Even if it wasn't a HOA area, it would be ridiculous. They seem to all bark constantly just because each other are barking.

* Yes, I now agree that HOAs suck. Actually I feel bad about it because I read through the thread on this forum before we even bought the house and I read the warnings but decided to do it anyway. We really wanted the peace and quiet. I guess that's why we're so frustrated about the whole thing. Anyway, next time we'll pay more attention to the MMM wisdom :)

* As I mentioned in an earlier post, I contacted the HOA first because I consider the enforcement of their rules to be part of the service that we're paying for. I wouldn't run after people who let their dogs crap on the sidewalk and make them pick it up, or clean the public toilets in the park. They have a web form set up for reporting these issues and employ staff to handle them.

* It was the HOA who advised us (after knowing that we had not contacted the owners) to file a complaint with the Sheriff's office. And they mentioned civil action. And it was the Sheriff's office who said that in their experience, chatting with the owners probably wouldn't do much good (at least in the long term) and that we should consider civil action because that's usually the best motivator. Perhaps they also knew how strongly people felt about these issues and knew that people have guns here and have seen things end badly so that's why they don't advise it, I'm not sure. It's a nice area here with good schools etc but even just down the street we saw a truck with a sticker on the back saying "An armed society is a polite society" (DH stopped to gawk at it but I hurried him along...).

* Although I personally find it cruel to keep so many dogs constrained in a house/backyard all the time, I don't think it would be considered cruelty to animals. She does seem like a nice lady and she mentioned that she shows the dogs so I guess she takes good care of them otherwise. Hopefully she'll walk them now.

* Regarding preserving the evidence, I was hoping to avoid the situation where she manages to reduce the barking down to 5-10 min blocks (which still wake us up, disturb us, annoy us, etc) and a judge having a similar opinion to some posts above, i.e. "it's ONLY 5 minutes at a time?! Are you crazy? What's the problem here?" whereas if it went on for longer then we'd have a stronger case. Or for the barking to go from fairly predictable in large chunks to smaller random chunks and pieces throughout the day that may be harder to catch on video. Especially if all attempts are short-lived anyway. But yes, it would definitely be great if there was no evidence anymore!

* Attending a HOA meeting is a great idea, to get a feel for the situation, we should do that.

Thanks again everyone! I'll post an update in a couple of weeks for anyone who's interested.

Glad you had a decent conversation with her. That's encouraging.
I would give her a couple weeks to sort it out. Don't bring up the dogs.
If things don't improve, buy a citronella collar (or a few... lol) and bring it to her. Well worth the cost.

The anti dog barking device probably wont work since they are a house away. They do work on some dogs, others, not.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - Can we sue? Any advice?
Post by: eman resu on April 01, 2014, 08:00:45 PM
Cops and lawyers over barking dogs?! The local police and suits would laugh me out of town...

Anyway, you have every right to be upset over what this is doing to your quality of life. You should be downright angry that someone is abusing his dogs: the incessant barking is a symptom of boredom, stress, loneliness, etc.   Go over and tell this jagoff to take care of his dogs properly or give them to someone who will/can.  If you need to involve other parties to get this done, so be it.  Sorry that you have to deal with this issue.

Yeah, no. A barking dog does not equal an abused dog. First off, what the OP described I wouldn't call it incessant barking. The dogs bark on and off during the day, probably due to seeing things in the back yard (like a bird or a squirrel). Maybe they're even playing with each other. One of my dogs barks when he's playing. Some dogs are more vocal because of their breed. Some tend to be more protective (and so are more likely to bark at people walking outside or a cat passing by). They could be more vocal because they are with other dogs and barking is a form of communication.

Now, that's not to say that, if the dog is barking all the time, inside and out, that the owners shouldn't do their part in keeping the dog occupied or to train their dogs better. But there are a lot of reasons why dogs bark--boredom is just one of them. Should these particular owners probably do a better job of directing their dogs to more productive activities? Probably, yes. They should probably be outside with the dogs. But do we know that these dogs are abused and living a terrible life? No, we don't. Frankly, when my dog is barking at a bird, he's pretty dang happy doing it, especially when the bird flies and he can then chase the bird until it disappears over the fence. When he's barking as part of play, I'm pretty positive he's having the best time ever.

Agreed.  Abuse wasn't a fair word with what was presented.  And I agree that there are reasons dogs bark that aren't boredom.  There are even other reasons that they bark incessantly.  That's why I included two other words plus an etc.; though, dogs tend not to bark incessantly for good reasons in my experience. I hope I was totally off-base and exaggerated the amount of barking the OP was describing.

My dogs do their share of happy barking too.  :)

Anyway, sounds like OP is making some tentative progress with the neighbors. I hope the dog owners follow-through on helping their dogs behave, whatever the situation is there.  Good luck, OP!

Title: Re: Barking dogs - nothing much changed (final update for anyone who was following)
Post by: OnTheMoney on October 12, 2014, 12:32:08 AM
Hi everyone, OP here.  Wanted to give the final installment on this because I promised it a while ago. Don't have tons of time for the forums but figured late is better than never.  Hopefully it won't kick off another storm :)

Thanks for all of the input but unfortunately very little has changed and I haven't considered it worthwhile to go back to talk to the neighbor again or take any further external actions about it. After I spoke to her and gave her info about the best barking collars (plus some other suggestions), the dogs were silent for 2 weeks which I knew must have meant that they were somewhere else. I guessed she would do something like that, in case I went to speak to the other neighbors or anyone else. So relative peace and tranquility for 2 weeks and then the dogs came back and everything was more-or-less the same as it was. (During the time they were away, we did hear a couple of other dogs barking around the neighborhood a bit here and there, honestly probably also more than we were expecting when we consider the HOA rules, but not something that we would or could complain about and definitely nothing like the noise that her 4 dogs produce whenever they step foot into her backyard a few times per day.) So for anyone saying (or thinking) something like "oh of course the owners must not know that their dogs annoy people, otherwise of course they'd do something about it", well, I guess maybe you can see now that this wasn't the case.

It's pretty annoying to need to accept that we won't ever be able to leave our windows open. That certainly wasn't what we had planned when we decided to move here. As I said in my first post, we were REALLY careful to check about noise clauses in the HOA rules, especially relating to dogs barking, so we're really disappointed about this. It sucks that the HOA can just push it back onto us and make it our responsibility to push the police department to do something about it when a) we never expected to need to deal with the police department about such things, with the HOA rules being so clear on the issue, and 2) there is no police noise ordinance relating to barking dogs in this area anyway, so the cops just tell us there's nothing they can do unless the dogs are barking at night time or very early in the morning.  Nevermind that they disturb our peace during the day - 4 dogs barking all at once is most certainly enough to interrupt our work, disturb our peaceful meals, wake up the baby, etc, even if it's sporadically during the day.

(And as I've said before, the dogs do bark INCESSANTLY by ANYONE'S definition, the issue is that they're inside most of the time and so they don't bother us usually. From our house, we can't hear them until they are actually let our into their backyard, which only happens a few times per day... but that's a few times per day too many when it's so consistent like that, every. single. day.)

We were originally planning to stay here for a long time but we've already started to consider moving. The dogs aren't ALL of the reason but they're definitely most of the reason (and we'd probably be more inclined to suck up the other problems, since no place is perfect, if we didn't need to deal with the dogs as well). My original question was asking whether we could force the HOA to reimburse us for at least some of the real estate costs etc if we we ended up moving soonish because of this. The truth is that we would never have moved here if we thought the HOA wouldn't enforce their own rules. Unfortunately, I guess it probably wouldn't be worth it to go through all that stress though. I mean, it's a lot of money, but it's also a lot of time and energy to fight for it.

Right now we're just trying to pretend that the dogs aren't an issue and just continue with our lives - well, as much as we can while we aren't able to fully enjoy our home with the windows open, and we need to have those big thermal noise-protecting curtains in the bedrooms, plus noise machines running whenever any of us are sleeping, etc.

One thing we've learned is that we're quite different to a lot of people out there. Aside from the fact that we would NEVER own pets without making sure that we take full responsiblity for them (24/7, not just when we feel like it), and we'd never do anything to even remotely disturb our neighbors, we seem to live a relatively peaceful life. When we went to talk to the neighbor, we thought the noise level in her house was incredible.

Even without considering the 4 dogs barking constantly inside, she also had a TV blasting, etc. It's hard for us to understand such chaotic homes, even though now we do notice them a lot. No wonder she can't empathize with us - she probably can't think at all in that sort of environment. We have a TV in a room separate from the main living area, just for watching occasional movies (when we specifically choose to watch one, e.g. a couple of times per month), but no cable or anything. Our house is silent except when we are talking/laughing/playing or occasionally listening to some music (at a respectable volume, i.e. not audible outside the home!) while we're doing some cleaning or cooking. So of course we're more likely to notice annoying noise coming in from outside the house than most people.

The one good thing to come out of this is that the neighbor does walk the dogs every few days now. It's still not enough exercise for them, but I guess something is better than nothing. At least their lives are a bit better now, even if ours aren't.

Anyway, I'm not looking for any advice or anything, and sorry about the long reply, just wanted to give an update because I said I would, in case anyone was interested.

Thanks again everyone for the advice and empathy, to anyone who has dogs, please look after them, and to anyone who finds this thread later because you're having trouble with neighbors' barking dogs, I hope you have better luck than we did! :)
Title: Re: Barking dogs - nothing much changed (final update for anyone who was following)
Post by: Astatine on October 12, 2014, 04:59:51 AM
I've read this thread for the first time. What a nightmare! I HATE loud noise (I'm disappointed that someone with a revoltingly loud motorbike has just moved into my street, although luckily that's only a few minutes per day).

Maybe before buying the next house you could spend a day or two (and include party night, Saturday evening) wandering around the neighbourhood listening and seeing how noisy it gets? I hope you get peace and quiet at the next week.

Title: Re: Barking dogs - nothing much changed (final update for anyone who was following)
Post by: SnackDog on October 12, 2014, 10:46:00 AM
One polite chat and now you are selling your house?  You give up too easily!!  You are losing this battle because you are too polite.  I can guarantee (based on what you have said) that she is bothered by the fact you told her how upset you are.  So keep it up.  No point in ringing her doorbell anymore. Just wait until you see her letting the dogs back in the house following a barkathon (from your upstairs window) and scream "Heyyyyy! Shut those damn dogs up or I'm calling the cops!".  Do it every time they bark.  She'll have a nervous breakdown, instead of you.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - nothing much changed (final update for anyone who was following)
Post by: MooseOutFront on October 12, 2014, 11:23:22 AM
Well now you've blown your cover so suppressed rifle fire is off the table.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - nothing much changed (final update for anyone who was following)
Post by: DoubleDown on October 12, 2014, 11:25:04 AM
Sorry to hear the situation continues unresolved. Keep in mind that if you sell, ethically and legally you have an obligation to disclose the situation to your new buyers. If someone asks why you are selling and you do not disclose the noise situation, and then they buy your house and discover the problem, you could be successfully sued. That alone would give me encouragement to resolve it and get the dogs quieted. I agree with previous posters -- now that you've tried the polite route, it's time to get tougher on those inconsiderate neighbors and with the HOA.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - nothing much changed (final update for anyone who was following)
Post by: justajane on October 12, 2014, 04:52:40 PM
You definitely have my sympathies. Seven years ago when we were buying, we looked at a foreclosure that was a good price and the perfect layout for us. But we opted not to buy the house because there were loud and angry dogs on both sides of the house and obnoxious "Beware of Dogs" signs. It was so unfriendly that the moment we walked back into the backyard we knew we couldn't buy. It was also clear that these dogs were left outside all day every day and possibly at night too.

On the block of the house we ultimately bought, there are plenty of dog owners. Probably 75% of houses have at least one dog, but thankfully they are all responsible dog owners. They bark when we walk past but that's about it.

Good luck finding a solution or moving to another house.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - nothing much changed (final update for anyone who was following)
Post by: Argyle on October 12, 2014, 07:00:15 PM
Sorry to hear it's still ongoing.

We've had various noise problems in our neighborhood, and I don't bother going to talk to the people any more since one guy turned out to be unbalanced and kept pounding on my door screaming at me after I'd asked him to turn down the blasting music at 2 a.m.

Anyway, around here the police are very cooperative.  They have the ethos that small law-breaking encourages people to think that larger law-breaking is acceptable.  So the rule is that you shouldn't be able to hear disturbance noise from the neighbors (loud music, dogs barking) with your windows closed.  When the folks next door had the eternally barking dog, it took only one warning visit from the police, and then one follow-up visit and $50 fine, for the dogs to be quiet. 

You might want to be sure there's no equivalent in your neighborhood before you go to the trouble of moving.  Apparently if it's a chronic problem we can escalate to the point of lodging some kind of injunction for causing an unlivable environment, but as I said, one fine always stops the behavior around here.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - nothing much changed (final update for anyone who was following)
Post by: Forcus on October 13, 2014, 10:14:32 AM
Maybe I missed it, but if you have to sign a convenant to an HOA, and pay them insane amounts of money to maintain a tranquil paradise and police everyone's mailboxes and siding colors, then it seems to me they are required to respond to folks like you that they've formed a contract with, and be required to enforce their own rules. I hate HOA's anyways and it seems like to me based on skimming this thread they are trying to push off the responsibility that they may be legally required to keep. No one wins when lawyers are involved but sometimes a little cage rattling through some pointed letters from a law office can get results.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - nothing much changed (final update for anyone who was following)
Post by: retired? on October 13, 2014, 10:45:29 AM
This situation sucks.  I feel for you having dealt with it a few times before.  The owners do know.  I'd say probably always.

First home we owned had a barker next door (and side of our MBR).  Would bark non-stop for 45 minutes.  I didn't walk over since we weren't exactly friends (caught the husband letting the dog crap on mailbox flower bed and start walking back  "hey, do you need a bag?").

Rather, I called up one day and said "your dog must be hurt, it is outside and barking really loudly".  They were very appreciative.  Was the only way I could tell them without my anger showing through.  The idiots also had an old-style car alarm in their Mercedes that said "Viper is armed" very loudly each time the car was locked.....usually at 7am on weekends.

Other time, it was for neighbors to the back.  I drove over and put a note in their mailbox.  In neither case did this help.  No HOA, but in a different house we frequently called the police (when we couldn't tell which house it was coming from) who were happy to come over.

Whatever your future course, keep in mind that you are not the problem.  Get more support from immediate neighbors.  A noise nuisance would affect the value of all the homes nearby.
Title: Re: Barking dogs - nothing much changed (final update for anyone who was following)
Post by: Spartana on October 13, 2014, 02:49:07 PM
OP - I haven't read all the posts yet but I have a yappy little dog (aptly nicknamed "The Barkinator") so have been on the other side of the barking dog issue. My suggestions would be to first talk to the neighbors so that they are aware that it is a problem as they may not even know it is. If you aren't comfortable doing that and your HOA won't do it for you (make the dogs owners know it's a problem) then contact your local cities animal control officer. Many cities,  mine included, have a "nuisance animal" ordinance which includes barking dog, and they will cite and fine your neighbor - usually with a warning first and ticket and possible court appearance next. This happened to me and it not only made me aware of The Barkinator's barking while I was gone (have a house with a dog door to the back yard) but forced me to correct it ... well try to correct it as it is still a problem.... if I wouldn't do it myself (I would have if the neighbors had told me first).   
Here is a ordinance for my city:

Barking Dogs

It is unlawful to allow an animal to disturb any person by audible sound. First complaints are issued a warning; subsequent complaints within one year can result in a summons to court. The city's barking dog ordinance can be found in the City Code under Title VI (6-7-7). 


I've found my own way to deal with The Barkinator but probably won't work for you:

"Listen, and understand. That Barkinator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you..." give it treats.