Apartment Guru: Peeping Tom Prevention

peeping tom adviceDear Apartment Guru,

My neighbor and I have adjoining balconies separated by a wall. He has a little dog that easily slips through over to our side. Whenever this happens, the neighbor proceeds to crawl over the wall to fetch his yappy dog. Sometimes my roommates and I "entertain" in our living room (not at the same time), into which this guy would get a front row view if the timing was right. Plus it just feels weird that he keeps coming over the wall like that.

How can I tell him to stick to his side without ruining the neighborly relationship, or accidentally drop-kicking the dog off the balcony?

-- Not Sure How to Rap About the Yap

Dear Rap,

First of all, nice rhyme on the pseudonym.

Second of all, any time there is a sensitive topic at hand to be discussed with a semi-stranger, it is a great idea to come up with a goal. In this case, I assume, you are hoping to stop your neighbor from crawling over your wall to fetch his wayward dog without creating any animosity with said-neighbor.

If you go next door with a cocked rifle, it's probably overkill. So, instead, go over, or invite him over, with the intention of having a friendly chat. Then figure out a few related topics that might serve as great lead-ins to the matter at had.

Life coach Lauree Ostrovsky at Simply Leap says, "My first thought about the neighbor is ... does he ever `entertain?' If so, that's a great segue into the conversation."

I would also suggest the dog itself as a conversation starter. Something like, "I used to have a dog that refused to learn the word `come,' so I hired a professional to spend one hour with us and after that, I never had to scale walls again to chase it down!"

A helpful suggestion for a clueless pet owner is sometimes all you need. Similarly, you could look online for suggestions on dog training and propose them yourself. If the animal is food-driven, it's fairly easy to teach it a simple command like "come," or "treat." Broach the topic as though you feel the guy's pain, having an ill-behaved dog. Try saying, "I can't imagine how frustrating it is to have to chase that little guy all over the place. Have you ever tried ..." Then hit him with a fabulous tip.

"Another option," says Ostrovsky, "is to create a partition that prevents the dog from coming onto your side."

Cinderblocks and plywood come cheap and can easily be placed in front of any easy-access holes. If you want something that looks nicer, hang a piece of fabric over the wall and then tuck it under, placing small but heavy rocks across the bottom.

Or you could always just invest in some window treatments!

Happy rapping!
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