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Nasty neighbours complaining about our pup barking (v v long!)

(31 Posts)
Solo2 Mon 17-Oct-11 20:00:35

Our next door neighbours (detached from our property with a grassy road/lane inbetween) phoned tonight to complain about our golden retriever barking. He was indeed barking tonight as he was completely freaked out by horses that have only just been put in the field backing onto our garden. He was terrified, weed in the kitchen (a first), wouldn't eat his supper (unique for him!) and barked in terror, whilst i did my best to distract him and manage the phone call.

However, as I was desperately apologising and explaining about the new arrival of horses, our neighbour said that this wasn't about tonight but was about him barking ever since we got him?!???

I suggested she might mean the terrier about 6 doors away further down who barks all day and I think is left in its garden unattended, poor thing. She said it definitely was OUR dog and perhaps he was barking when we were out.

I reminded her that I'm NEVER out (this is true) except briefly twice a day for the school run. I work from home and Rollo never ever barks then and also always naps whilst I'm on the school run as each school run is after a dog walk. Bear in mind that he'd be locked in our kitchen with the radio on and it's simply not possible to hear from our neighbours house anything inside our detached and completely separated property anyway. He never barks when the doorbell goes or when people call round.

I said we'd specially bought a goldie because they don't bark much, that he rarely rarely barked, which is completely true. He barks occasionally at around 7.45pm for a few minutes after his long and last walk, when he sees lights in darkness in the garden. He occasionally barks (as I've posted on here) for maximum of 10 to 15 mins ever (and v rarely nowadays) once in his crate for the night (but obviously he's also in our home and you just can't hear him outside or in another home, I'm sure of this). In the summer, he sometimes barked on and off for 10 to 15 mins if we were in the garden and he was in his fenced off part of the garden and wanted to be with us.

He's also barked if the neighbours are riding a motorbike along the side lane (illegal), if they're trespassing in the field backing onto our properties but again this would be maybe 3 to 5 mins barking. That's all.

We have a horrible, horrible history of trouble with these neighbours and I've been to the police about them in the past. We're not on speaking terms and the woman has accosted me in the street and been verbally abusive. Things had calmed down for the last 9 months or so and they've never ever complained in the last 7 months since we got Rollo.

As you can imagine, I'm in a state of high anxiety about this. I feel vulnerable and threatened by these neighbours (I'm a single mum, they're a couple and have already proved to have different 'moral' standards to me, to put it nicely and are quite threatening). Have I done everything I should have done in these situations?

This is what I've done tonight: called the environmental health noise pollution department and asked their advice, explained the situation and got them to make a record of my call; called our dog trainer who came straight round and immediately helped me to desensitise Rollo to the horses; called a family member who's a solicitor to ask advice.

Obviously Rollo IS going to bark from time to time. Obviously he may bark more for a while as he gets used to horses near our garden. Obviously I can't keep him shut int he house all the time as he toilets in the garden. I'm not supposed to be giving him attention when he barks but now I'm scared if he barks at all say at night, I'll HAVE to go down to him and undo all the crate work we did.

Please can people give me their thoughts on all this because I'm majorly freaked out tonight?

Spamspamspam Mon 17-Oct-11 20:22:18

Do you have double glazing? if yes then there is no way they can hear your dog barking inside your property. I have a detached property and my neighbours have never heard my dog barking. When she was tiny I used to put her in the utility room which is a couple of feet away from their house and they never heard her (I bloody did all night for 5 nights though!!!). I rang them and warned them because I was worried as she was so so loud with crying and barking but they said they never heard anything.

Mine can bark, she is a terrier and occasionally if something gets her attention at 6.00am or 11.00pm alongside the hedge she does get barky but it is so few and far between I have stopped worrying about it, when she does it I might put her on her lead for the the next day or so for early morning or late evening toilet breaks. There are plenty of dogs around us that bark all day long because they have obviously been left all day without company that I think one little barking episode is nothing compared to what I have to listen to all day.

I would completely ignore them if I were you, you know its not your dog so why get yourself worked up over a couple of eejits. Do not get yourself overly anxious about this as it will feed Rollo and the situation might get worse. A dog barks, it's part of life and not illegal and from what you have said about how you manage his day, I am pretty sure he is not outside barking for hours - you know this so just carry on and stay calm smile

bumpybecky Mon 17-Oct-11 20:32:01

didn't I read that Rollo had stayed at his trainer's house for occasional nights, do the neighbours think he barks then? I'm sure you said he stayed there for a week or so at one point, also when you were on holiday - do they think he barked then? (I'm not stalking you I promise!)

try not to worry (easier said than done I know), sounds like they just want to cause trouble sad I'd not bother trying to justify your actions to them, if they've decided you're causing a problem then you're unlikely to change their minds. If they give you any more grief suggest they contact environmental health. If it's not your dog barking or if it is but it's only occasionally as a warning (visitors, motorbikes etc) then there's no cause for a formal complaint.

girliefriend Mon 17-Oct-11 20:44:58

They sound like not nice people, they are being unreasonable and probably are looking for a fight.

I had a similiar problem with my neighbours recently and can relate to your anxiety (am also a single parent) but try not to let it get to you.

Your dog sounnds fine and you have done all the right things.

DogsBeastFiend Mon 17-Oct-11 21:06:11

You;ve done a remarkable amount. More than most might tbh but there's one more thing that you might do and I'm saddened to think hasn't been done by anyone in the neighbourhood yet - that's report to the environmental health department the barking of the poor terrier.

For one thing, getting his owners to stop him from barking will resolve the issue if the neighbour is genuinely mistaking his bark for that of Rollo... for another, and far more importantly IMHO, your complaint will hopefully (eventually, for you too will need proof) put a stop to the poor little mite being left outside to bark alone as winter approaches.

I'd also suggest that you keep a record - time, date, witnesses, what was said - of any approach from your neighbours just in case they decide that it's a fun idea to plague you with a series of false complaints and allegations - that way a harassment charge may be made if necessary.

As has been more or less said, it sounds like the complaint against you is purely malicious and unfounded so you have nothing to worry about. IF the neighbours decide to report to EH they will be asked to keep a noise diary and eventually be offered recording equipment. That latter will, from what I read here, make them look pretty foolish and put a stop to the matter.

gothicangel Tue 18-Oct-11 08:14:48

ive had lots of problems with neighbours in the past, (and people in the same road on the pure fact as you can tell by name in gothy)

if i was you and this has been proven to work for me, i keep a diary of everthing that happens, so if rollo barks for more than 5 mins write it down the time and the reason, (motorbike down alley way or the like) and then your have a log if they try to say he was barking more than he was.

hope they dont cause you any problems xxx

LaurieFairyCake Tue 18-Oct-11 08:21:40

You have done everything possible.

I live in a tiny detached house in the town centre and you can hear my dog barking outside on the pavement but if you were in even the house next door with the door shut you can't.

Sounds like you just have a nutter who expects the countryside to be entirely quiet hmm Feel free to ignore them.

Solo2 Tue 18-Oct-11 09:54:34

Thanks. These are good ideas. I've been in a major panic now since last night. Our brilliant dog trainer came over within 15 mins of me calling her last night and we took Rollo to the horses in the field, with the permission of the woman who owns them and was there attending to them with her daughters. Rollo was totally fine then but has barked again at their shadowy, half-formed figures last night and first thing this morning! His doggy area of the garden doesn't back onto the field and our garden fence is slatted so I guess what he sees, from where he is in his area of the garden or from the house, is large moving 'things' between fencing slats. This may well look weird and freaky to him.

The trouble for me is that usually I let him have access to his part of the garden, first thing in the morning and last thing at night - both times when it's dark, to toilet and also roll around his food ball for all meals. If he's going to now bark at those times I'll have to keep him in the house but he also barks there too but this is also a time when he needs the toilet.

This morning, I had no alternative but to take him out for an earlier than normal walk at 6.30am (instead of 7am) when my DCs freaked out about me going so early in the dark. One (the one with Asperger's traits and lots of worries) had to then come with me and the other was left home alone showering. This wasn't at all ideal for me or them.

If I can't leave Rollo unattended even for a minute in the garden, this is going to massively increase the stress in our lives. But I'm even more stressed out by the horrible neighbours.

The noise abatement officer called me back this morning and reiterated that no one has yet phoned to complain and that there needs to be weeks of evidence of a dog left unattended alone in the garden barking all day/ night or in a room against a party wall similarly. Our properties are detached from each other and there's a road between us and also our side garden area and the neighbours similar even before you reach the house walls!

However, I'm just really worried about giving the neighbours any reason at all to complain about us. Their own children are extremely noisy, climb their shed roof and catcall and jeer at us in our garden all summer long (hence my trip to the police for advice, some months ago), the dad rides his motorbike down the road between our gardens illegally, they trespass on the private behind our properties and had at one time their massive trampoline set out there and lots of other recreational equipment there too. The mum has been really rude to me, told me our family were hated by all other people in the street and village (I know this can't be true but emotionally, I've felt paranoid and hugely upset by this in the past).

We've always kept ' the moral high ground' by never doing anything back to them. My DCs are really quiet and well behaved compared to their DCs (and I hasten to add my DCs are no saints!). We've never been rude to them. I'm always polite and calm even when she accosts me and abuses me.

But I am really freaked ever time Rollo barks now because it does 'put us in the wrong'.

ClevelandAnnie Tue 18-Oct-11 10:38:00

You have done nothing wrong! These people are nasty bullies. They are just using the dog to get at you. If it wasn't the dog, it would be something else.

I also have nightmare neighbours who complain about my dog. They are just bullies (and worse, but that's another thread). Like you, I have felt it necessary to involve the police in the past.

Don't change your habits or alter your dog training because of these people. It won't resolve the situation. They will never be satisfied, because they are not reasonable people.

My strategy for dealing with my nasty neighbours is to avoid them as much as possible. I mostly don't speak to them. If they are verbally abusive, I turn my back and walk away.

You have done nothing wrong and neither has your dog.

Solo2 Wed 19-Oct-11 08:28:29

Thanks. I try always for our paths never to cross but as they live next door, inevitably, we sometimes see them. Had another awful early morning with Rollo toileting/ eating bkfast in the garden and then starting to bark loudly again at the horses. Took him back in the house, despite him not yet having his morning poo and then felt obliged to take him out v v early for a walk again - but without DCs this time as it was so dark and cold and one has a sore throat today.

I'm paranoid every single time Rollo barks now and of course he's currently barking more than he's ever barked before. I've tried, as the trainer suggested, taking him down to the bottom of the garden on his lead and feeding him by hand, whilst we watch the horses and talking to him normally. This is fine. What's freaking him out is seeing the vague shapes of the horses from afar through his run fence and the garden slatted fence....

I know I shouldn't let the neighbours intimidate me but it's really hard not to feel threatened and aggressed by them in reality.

nickschick Wed 19-Oct-11 08:32:30

Dont worry- for 4 years the beautiful dog in the house that backs onto us has barked,howled and moaned despite neighbours complaining and being threatened with violence and diaries being kept for the council - they have been advised to train the dog.

The way they chose? a collar that tingles whenever he barks sad that he wears until the battery runs out then barks again (the environmental officer told me this) I wont complain I dont think the collar is a good idea - the dog is just miserable in its tiny constrained space he scratches at the back door all day whining and moaning.

anchovies Wed 19-Oct-11 15:05:05

I have had a very similar problem with my next door neighbour (in fact posted on here a couple of weeks ago!) Our dog barks when we are out, despite us never staying out more than an hour or so, long walks first thing in the morning and at night, using bungee cords to lock upstairs doors, shutting curtains, leaving chews, training him to be ok on his own, giving him his breakfast in his kong wobbler etc etc. I also rang our council who said unless he is barking at night there is no problem. So now I have decided I have done all I can and have decided I am just not going to worry about it anymore.

I really hope you can stop worrying too as it is a horrible feeling. He is a dog, he is doing what dogs do - you are not "in the wrong". You are doing all you can (and a lot more than most people!)

ChristieF Wed 19-Oct-11 18:13:55

I have two Jack Russells (known for being yappy dogs). Also had dogs all my life (I'm 50). My DH and I have had six dogs together. I love dogs but I cannot stand the sound of them barking. The instant they bark my dogs are told No. Pups need to learn from an early age that they can't just bark when they want to. Because I don't like loud noise it makes me very sensitive to what the neighbours might be feeling. I'm sure I saw Victoria Stillwell teach a dog to bark in order to then train it not to bark.

ChristieF Wed 19-Oct-11 18:16:28

I don't understand how a neighbour can complain about a dog barking indoors unless they're joined on and the walls are thin. With double glazing surely the dog can't be heard? It's not good to have a dog outside who barks

clam Wed 19-Oct-11 22:25:09

Maybe they've mistaken your calm good manners for weakness. (not saying it us but they're clearly weirdos. Maybe it's time to fight back a bit and tell them in no uncertain terms that it is not your dog they can hear barking and you do not appreciate their aggressive tone.

clam Wed 19-Oct-11 22:25:35

"is" not "us!"

JajasWjolef Wed 19-Oct-11 22:32:28

I live in a detached house a little way from our next door neighbours and their dogs bark and I can hear every single yap even with the radio on, doors and windows closed. It is awful, sorry but it drives me insane and I've been reduced to tears by it before and often have to go out to get away from the noise.

I love dogs but I think dog owners really underestimate what an awful noise continuous barking is - especially yappy terrier type dogs. The trouble is it is an 'alert' sound and your brain just latches on to it and cannot switch off from it unlike the sound of say someone hoovering or mowing the lawn etc.

springlamb Wed 19-Oct-11 22:43:21

I don't think you're unreasonable in the least but you do sound really stressed. I realise Rollo must get used to the horses and you're seeking help to do this, but would it help to screen off the slatted fence temporarily with some of that willow screening on a roll?
You could attach it at one end only and kind of 'lean' it against the fence so that you could pull it back to continue your familiarisation sessions.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 19-Oct-11 22:52:04

I think try and forget it.

If she brings tip again just be very firm. Repeat that you know it's not your dog barking as you work from home. That there may be occasional barking when dog is in the garden but that this is normal and that if she wants total peace and quiet you suggest she buys a house in the middle of nowhere.

Then walk away, close the door, put the phone down, etc.

But try and minimise the amount the dog barks in the garden. I wouldn't let my dog bark for 10-15 mins.

Solo2 Thu 20-Oct-11 08:36:26

Thanks. Until the horses came, Rollo would bark in the garden maybe for two of three woofs only about twice a day maximum - usually at lights in the darkness or the nasty neighbours trespassing in the field, neighbour's children climbing the shed roof in their garden and calling over at my DCs or the man illegally riding his motorbike down the side road between our properties. I'd always take Rollo in, distract him etc etc. The only other time he ever barked was about once a week in his crate at night and the longest I ever left him doing that was 15 mins.

Now the horses are here, in the last few days, he barks continually whilst in his garden run, unless either distracted for a few seconds by his food ball or a kong or it's just far too dark for him to see the shapes of the horses. He continues barking even if in the house

I've tried putting his large grate across the kitchen sliding glass doors, so he can't see the horses but he still seems to bark and perhaps can see them 'above' the crate height. For the first time ever, he also barked whilst I was having work meetings. I'm getting desperate as he's never ever been a barking dog at all.

There are now 2 separate issues for me: 1) the neighbours complaining - which they now may well have cause to do BUT they said they've heard him barking for the last 7 months and I KNOW for sure it can't be the case. He's made LESS noise than they regularly make with their children (unusually loud children who shriek continuously on their trampoline all summer long and well into the night) and 2) the recent change that Rollo DOES now bark at the horses.

So far, with the suggestion of the trainer, I've tried leading Rollo down to the bottom of our garden, out of his run area, and feeding him his food by hand, whilst chatting to him in a normal calm voice, whilst we can see the horses through the fence. The thing it, he's absolutely FINE with this. What's freaking him out is seeing them from a distance whilst he's in the house or his run which is near the house. Then he just barks. He's not having the major fear reaction anymore like he did on the first day but he's still barking and growling too and hasn't pooed in his own garden since he first saw the horse as he doesn't have enough time out there to relax enough to do so.

Obviously this now means I'm flying round first thing in the morning and last thing at night especially, trying to get normal things done but not leave him alone for long even in the kitchen, so I can be with him, distracting him etc. But I really can't be there ALL the time!

I'm concerned that putting up a screen on the outside of the kitchen panels (so he can't pull it down from the inside) or on his run panels or on the back fence - will still make him bark because it's also unusual and different? I won't know this till I've financially invested in something huge enough to fit. He's at another developmental age, the trainer says, when they get scared again (9 months old) and he was even scared by a white cat earlier today on his walk!

I can try to teach him to bark on command but that could take months I presume? Saying 'no' if he bark doesn't work at all as it's like a 'positive reward' to him if I speak to him and I'm sure making a scary noise if he barks would only incite him to bark more, as he's barking out of fear.

Any other dog training expert tips out there to help this? Is screening out the horses only delaying and avoiding helping him to desensitise to them? I DO need a quick fix however, as we can't go on like this. He's away at his trainers next week for helf-term, which will give me respite (and the neighbours!) but presumably once he's back he'll be even more reactive to the horses, not having seen them for a week?

Solo2 Thu 20-Oct-11 19:38:58

Bumping my thread as at my wit's end with rollo barking every single time I leave him alone, unless he's napping. The trainer says son't pay attention when he barks, as I've been trying to distract him/play with him/ divert him/ train him if/when he begins to bark. But if I don't do any of that or get the DCs to help do these things, he just barks and barks.

He's doing it now downstairs and he's just come back from his 4th and lovely off lead rural walk tonight and should be tired. I gave him some of his food in a frozen kong but he hasn't paid more than 2 mins attention to it. DS2 is shouting Rollo at him every time he barks,and is getting v v stressed himself, so I'll have to go back down. I've now lost the ability to be able to do ANYTHING at all unless Rollo is asleep, including email/MN/ paperwork, go to the toilet, shower - everything really.

Please can anyone help? Nothing is working, including putting him in his crate and screening out his view outside. In fact he can't possibly see the hroses right now as it's pitch black outside and he's in the brightly lit kitchen.

slinkyboo Thu 20-Oct-11 20:05:53

I do not have any brilliant advice, solo, but I've been following your story with Rollo's diarrhea etc and I couldn't not post.
You sound utterly desperate and stressed sad If Rollo has just suddenly started barking so much, could the dog trainer come and spend a few hours with you to witness it and try to help? Although this may be prohibitively expensive.
Our neighbours have a golden retriever and she is very, very barky. We have never complained but recently they have been putting her in a special muzzle which prevents her from barking. She wears this when she is out to toilet in the garden. (the neighbour told me this). Could this be a solution for Rollo??

DogsBeastFiend Thu 20-Oct-11 20:13:04

Lovey, the best suggestion I can give is to stop fretting. You've done all you can, over and above that which most would and even IF there was a GENUINE complaint (ie that Rollo is barking constantly, day and night), that you can prove this and it's a work in progress will be viewed as it should by EH - with respect and understanding. As you've seen here, the neighbours have to have a GENUINE grievance and EH are undoubtedly used to bogus complaints and can see the difference. Chances are that if the neighbours complained the EH dept will know them and their tricks of old.

Maybe join the Neighbours From Hell forums for advice and support? Or post on somewhere like DogPages or the Chat part of BigGSD forum for the same (you don't have to have a GSD to be a member or get support of course).

As I said, keep a record of the neighbours accusations and bad behaviour, dates, times, witnesses, record it if you can with a dictaphone... just in case you need it one day.

I may be wrong but I get the impression that you're a lone parent. If not would it be worth your DH/DP taking a firmer stand with these idiots and putting them straight verbally? IME this type often choose to pick on those who they think are an easy target... so if there's no DH perhaps a male friend or relative might "answer back" firmly if they ever catch the idiots being abusive or problematic.

If your council has an Anti Social Behaviour officer, have a word with him/her. Again, they might know the buggers and be able to act. Similarly if they are social housing tenants their housing officer should be informed as they are breaching the terms of a tenancy and once more, it's probably not for the first time.

But most of all try not to stress. I know it's easier said than done but these bullies haven't a leg to stand on.

clam Thu 20-Oct-11 20:33:38

I would say that this is probably just about the last straw for you, solo.
You've had a complete nightmare with Rollo's gastro problem and managing what has turned out to be a very demanding puppy, and now this.

DBF is right. Try to stop worrying so much. You're doing very well, and he'll be fine. Ignore these bastard neighbours. You have enough on your plate. If they persist, turn it back on them and mention back to them about their motorbike and loud children. Say that you've been disturbed by them but would never have dreamt of complaining, as it's part and parcel of being a good neighbour. And you expect the same courtesy from them. But DO continue to tell them that the barking they are referring to over the last few months cannot have been Rollo.

slinkyboo Thu 20-Oct-11 20:37:31

What dbf and clam said smile

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