It’s really no fun to be the neighbor with the barky dog. Yet many people own dogs who bark at the neighbors through the fence – even when the neighbor is minding her own business!
This problem isn’t very complicated, but it can take quite a while to fix. Here’s how to stop your dog from barking at your neighbors.
My dogs bark at the fence at my neighbor anytime she is in her back yard or in her driveway. How do I get them to stop?
– Sincerely, Noisy Neighbor
Stopping your dog from barking is almost never as easy as it sounds – that’s because barking is very natural to dogs.
In fact, up until just a few generations ago, your dog was probably supposed to bark at intruders! Humans used to like dogs that barked.
Dogs are often barkier at home because they’re protecting their territory. The trouble is, your neighbor isn’t an intruder – she’s your neighbor!
Here’s How to Stop Your Dog From Barking at the Neighbors
- Block her vision of the neighbor. Decorative window film will still let light
in,but lets your dog ease up on guard duty. Don’t let her outside to bark when your neighbor is out or likely to come by. The more your dog “practices” barking at the neighbor, the harder it is to fix the problem!
- In many cases, a white noise generator is helpful as well. These tools are especially useful for drowning out the sound of noisy neighbors or apartment neighbors.
- Give your dog something better to do. Most dogs will happily give up their “guard duties” if they have a higher purpose in life – like chewing on bully sticks or sniffing out hidden treats. Just before high-traffic times of day (like when your neighbor comes home from work or when the school bus drops off kids), give your dog one of these trainer-recommended chew toy or puzzle toy.
- Teach an alternative behavior. Rather than trying to punish your dog for barking at the neighbors, teach your dog to do something when she sees the neighbors! I’ve taught my own dog to come and get me when he sees the neighbors – then we play tug for a minute. Here’s how we did it:
- Every time you see the neighbors, Dog gets a treat. No matter what – even if she barks. Do this until your dog no longer barks or fixates on the neighbors – instead, she looks up to you for a treat when she sees the neighbors. You can stop here if you’d like!
- Start to only give treats when your dog looks at you in the presence of your neighbors. You can stop here if you’d like – you just taught your dog to look at you in exchange for a treat when she sees the neighbors!
- Ask your dog to do another behavior once she reliably looks at you. You can teach your dog to shake, play tug-o-war, or just sit when she sees the neighbors.
Of course, all of this is slightly easier said than done. Most people struggle to teach their dog not to bark at neighbors because they don’t do step 1 properly and try to rush step 3.
If you don’t do a good job of preventing your dog from barking with a white noise generator, window coverings, and smart lawn management, you won’t succeed. It’s just too natural and instinctive for your dog to bark!
Will A Bark Collar, Whistle, or Sound Egg Stop My Dog From Barking at the Neighbor?
Maybe. But at what cost?
All of these tools stop your dog from barking by punishing your dog from barking. If they weren’t unpleasant for your dog, they wouldn’t work.
The problem is, most dogs bark because they’re excited, aroused, or upset. Each of these tools might stop your dog from barking (because barking hurts, makes the room stink, or produces a scary sound). But they also add stress to your dog’s life.
Imagine you were watching an exciting movie, and every time you reacted to the movie, you were sprayed in the face with citronella. You would quickly get frustrated, upset, or even scared.
Many dogs start to display OTHER behavior problems when their owners use these tools. Instead of barking, they dig at the door, chew on their own paws, or even bite their housemates.
Instead of trying to treat the symptom (barking), treat the problem (showing your dog that neighbors are nothing to bark about).
Kayla is from Ashland, Wisconsin but currently lives on the Panamerican Highway. She holds a degree in biology from Colorado College and has spent years working in zoos, animal shelters, and as a private dog trainer. She is currently putting her knowledge to use as a freelance writer while she builds Journey Dog Training. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. She shares her life with her dog Barley and her boyfriend Andrew.