Q: My neighbors have three small dogs that they put outdoors for long periods of time, where they bark nonstop. I honestly can’t believe something so small times three can make so much noise. They bark at everything and nothing all the time. One other neighbor has had a new deck built but cannot even sit outside due to all the noise. Tell me what we can do. It is maddening.
Answer: “This would be a considered a noise violation, and we instruct people to contact their local law enforcement agency when it is occurring,” said Capt. Van Loveland with the Forsyth County Animal Services Division. “They can talk with your neighbor about the noise violation and possibly get this to stop.”
In your case, that would be the Winston-Salem Police Department, and you should call their non-emergency communications number at 336-733-7700, Loveland said, “and let them know you would like an officer to come talk with your neighbor about the noise violation.”
The city of Winston-Salem has an ordinance that prohibits residents from having “one or more dogs which habitually bark, howl or whine for at least 15 minutes so as to result in serious annoyance to neighboring residents.”
Once police have spoken to the neighbor, if the noise continues, the person disturbed by barking can charge the owner with violating the ordinance by taking out a criminal summons at the magistrate’s office at the county jail.
Another option is to get in touch with Mediation Services of Forsyth County at 336-724-2870. They have a long history of helping people settle disputes involving dogs, including barking, roaming and other problems.
For the owners of dogs that like to bark, here are some tips from the Humane Society that may help keep their pets from annoying the neighbors:
- Don’t yell at your dog to be quiet. “It just sounds like you’re barking along with him,” the Humane Society says;
- Be consistent: “Everyone in your family must apply the training methods every time your dog barks inappropriately. You can’t let your dog get away with inappropriate barking some times and not others.”
- Remove the motivation: If your dog barks at people or animals passing by the living room window, for instance, close the curtains or put the dog in another room; if he barks at passersby when he’s in the yard, bring him in the house.
- Don’t leave your dog outside unsupervised all day and night if they are prone to barking;
- Teach your dog that he will not get attention when he barks. “Your attention only rewards him for being noisy,” according to the Humane Society;
- Desensitize your dog to the stimulus: Gradually get your dog accustomed to whatever is causing him to bark;
- Teach your dog the “quiet” command: “The first step of this technique is to teach your dog to bark on command,” according to the Humane Society. “Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach him the ‘quiet’ command.”
More details and tips can be found online at www.humanesociety.org/resources/how-get-your-dog-stop-barking