Apartment Guru: Barking Dog Takes a Bite Out of a Good Night's Sleep
I am not kidding when I say that the barking of my neighbor's dog might kill me. OK, I can handle a little barking at 5 p.m., but the thing barks to be taken out at 5 a.m. every morning. It also barks to be let out at midnight, and keeps going if my neighbor is out late. It just stands there, on the other side of the wall from my bedroom -- barking.
Then, the other day, the neighbor didn't let the dog out for hours. I counted. I watched the clock. For two hours between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning, that animal barked and barked and barked.
Help me, Guru.
-- Losing It
Dear Losing It,
Oh, you poor thing. So the biggest problem that I see here is that you have taken notice of this thing, and so it has grown and expanded to the point that when you hear one bark it sounds like it is being broadcast out of stadium-sized speakers directly into your inner ear.
Obviously, the problem is bigger than that. But from where I sit in my "quiet" Brooklyn home, it is only when I start to notice that I am directly beneath a flight path for LaGuardia Airport, or that I am sitting directly above the G Train, that my skin starts to crawl with the pain of all of these noises.
The easiest thing to do is to buy a white noise machine. You can get them on Amazon for as little as $50. Hanging up a quilt or attractive swatches of cloth can also help to reduce noises on the other side of a wall.
But your neighbor also has a responsibility here. Just as if she were playing her stereo loudly or driving you bananas with loud, late-night trysts, she can't let her neighborly noises drift into your apartment at all hours of the day and night. So you need to tell her.
But as I always suggest, don't go in there with a bullhorn, calling her dog "it" and generally venting your sleeplessness all over the place -- mostly because you, my friend, will regret it. She's your neighbor. You need her on your team. So go over with a dog treat and express in the kindest way that you can that she learn to quiet her dog.
You can even let her know that there are actually effective ways to train a dog not to bark. Ellen, a vet in Phoenix, says, "Clickers, treats and a firm no are really all you need to stop a barking dog from barking."
"Every time your dog barks," she continues, "use eye contact and a click -- or just say no in a loud clear voice. When it stops barking, reward your pet with a treat."
She also suggests that you try this yourself from your own apartment. Find out the dog's name and tell it no whenever you hear it barking. "The neighbor can use a loud whistle if her voice isn't loud enough to get through the wall," she says.
If none of that works, I suggest going to your management company to let them know about the situation. Most cities have noise laws. Find out what they are in yours.
You have a right to a quiet and comfortable home, yap-free.
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