How to Make Sure You and Your Dog Are Good Neighbors

In a 2016 LawnStarter survey of more than 700 homeowners in five U.S. metro areas, 9 percent named pets—mostly dogsas the top complaint about their neighbors. The issues included owners not picking up dog poop and dogs disturbing the peace by constantly barking. And in a 2009 Consumer Report Survey, unscooped dog poop tied for sixth place among the top things that annoy Americans.

When I lived in an apartment complex in New Jersey with my dogs, I remember well how those who didn’t pick up after their dogs made life in the community uncomfortable for all of us. Instead of friendly greetings, neighbors were on poop patrol and anyone walking a dog was under close scrutiny.

Is Your Dog Having a Negative Impact on the Community?

As a dog walker, I also hear about neighborhood issues. Clients caution me to steer clear of a particular house because the dog is always loose or to avoid a certain street because of an aggressive dog whose electronic fence borders the sidewalk. And then there’s the house with a rickety old fence where a Bernese Mountain and Newfoundland bark aggressively and jump against the fence whenever they see a passersby. The owner yells “knock it off” from inside the house unconcerned that neighbors walking their dogs or just out for a stroll have to change direction or cross the street to avoid her unruly dogs.

Many dog training experts recommend resolving neighborhood issues by dealing with them head-on. If you’re being disturbed by a dog in the community, talk directly to the owner and see if there is a solution that can work for both people, said Robin Bennett, a dog trainer and Chair of the Board of Directors for the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT).

If the problem is that a dog is barking in the yard all day while the owners are away, Bennett said the solution could be confining the dog in the house. If the dog is barking inside the house, crating the dog or enclosing him/her in a smaller space might solve the problem.

“If a neighbor’s dog is left outside all day, I would have a conversation with the neighbor about why the dog is left outside,” Bennett said. “Often dogs are outside because they aren’t properly trained to live indoors. Talking with the family about getting training to solve those problems would help prevent the dog from having to be outside in the first place.”

Dog Training Classes Make for Happy Neighbors

Bennett said that dog training classes that cover basic obedience are a great start when it comes to being a good dog-owning neighbor. Dogs get the opportunity to practice being calm in the presence of other dogs and learn obedience cues such as “watch me,” “sit” and “stay”—all great skills that can be used when walking around the neighborhood.

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Bennett highly recommends that dog owners find trainers who teach the Canine Life and Social Skills (C.L.A.S.S.) program. Developed by the APDT, this program benefits pet owners, dogs and everyone in the community. The program offers three levels of training with the skills getting more difficult as the dog progresses. Dogs are taught helpful everyday skills such as waiting at the door, walking past other dogs without reacting and waiting in the car before exiting.

Last year more than 65,000 dogs nationwide graduated from the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Program. The CGC is open to purebred and mixed breed dogs and stresses responsible dog ownership and basic good manners for dogs. According to the AKC, earning this certification helps assure that dogs are welcome and well-respected members of the community. The certification has helped win over many property managers unsure about renting to tenants.

While many of the complaints about neighborhood dogsfor example not picking up poophave more to do with an owner’s lack of consideration for others, exercise and training can play a role in resolving behavioral issues. For instance, many dogs will resort to barking or escaping and running loose in the neighborhood to overcome boredom.

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“Exercise will definitely help with this problem,” Bennett said. “It’s important to realize that just putting your dog in the backyard really doesn’t count as exercise. In order for your dog to be mentally and physically challenged someone needs to actually be interacting with him or her while in the backyard.”

Etiquette for Dog Owners

  • Bring several bags on your walks to be sure you have enough to pick up after your dog. If you run out, either come back and clean it up later or ask another walker if they have a bag to spare.
  • Practice getting your dog’s attention to easily redirect him if he barks at people or other dogs. If you know your dog acts this way, only allow him in the yard when supervised.
  • Only let your dog greet a stranger if they ask. The same rule applies if you see another dog and owner approaching. Ask first and respect the other’s response.
  • Always leash your dog on walks. Not everyone is comfortable around dogs. Keep your dog close to you and stay alert to others. Your leash should be short enough to prevent your dog from contacting or jumping on passersby.
  • If you meet another dog on a walk and you have the owner’s permissionlet the dogs sniff each other for five seconds and move on. Letting your dog play with another dog while leashed can result in injury and teach your dog that all dogs enjoy this kind of interaction, although many don’t.
  • Be aware of other people’s feelings. If your dog does something to upset someone (jumping up, barking) apologize to them and take measures to prevent the situation from reoccurring.

Source: The Animal Humane Society in Buffalo, MN

Photo credit: Thinkstock

57 comments

Emma Z
Emma Z9 days ago

thank you

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David C
David C12 days ago

thanks, thanks, thanks

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Herbert C
Herbert C15 days ago

Rosslyn O
It sounds like you're an excellent pup sitter. I lost my dog Wendell on the 20th of Oct, and walking Ginger hasn't been the same, she's used to having her partner. Maybe I'll ask if the Shepard would like to walk with us.

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Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O16 days ago

Just Loved that story Herbert C... we have had a couple of situations where we were looking after friends dogs and both times these dogs decided to really make themselves at home in our place. Both families were quite embarrassed when they discovered their dogs had slept in our room and even on our bed... But they knew their baby was loved and looked after when they had to go away. I always pick up our dogs poop even daily in our yard. Just makes sense to us. I have suggested to a neighbour that her dogs howled and barked when she left him alone in the yard, that perhaps she come walking we us each evening so the dogs could meet. We became friends as did the dogs and we often had her 'boy' over for fun days to break up his weekdays alone. The barking stopped and his training was done each night on our walks. So many people really have no idea about keeping their dogs stimulated, let alone how to give them basic training. Good article thanks.

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Roberto M
Roberto MARINI16 days ago

I love dogs thanks

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Janis K
Janis K16 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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David C
David C17 days ago

try to pick up and dispose of properly at the time your pup goes

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Melanie S

Snow does not hide poop! This is my biggest peeve finding it in the spring! :(

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Leo C
Leo C17 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Carl R
Carl R17 days ago

Thanks!!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cABVKIPk_u0

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