Friday, March 9, 2012

When does barking become a nuisance?

I'm being hassled by my neighbours - it's more than hassled - I'm being harassed by my neighbours - and I've told them that - and I've threatened them that if they don't leave me alone I'm going to call the police.

For some reason they have a zero tolerance for any kind of noise - last summer they called police several times on the house next to me when they had parties in their back yard - citing that they were making too much noise - so I'm not the only one that they've set their sights on.

What they're doing to me is that Bubby can be at the top of my back steps and bark THREE times - not bark for three minutes, or for thirteen minutes - but bark THREE TIMES - BARK, BARK, BARK - and they will holler out their window, or open up their door and holler "SHUT THAT DOG UP" - or "PUT THAT DOG INSIDE", or swear at me or swear at Bubby. It's nerve wracking.

If either Bubby or Buttercup is outside I am always there - I have never let either of them bark for more than one minute at a time, ever. I am a responsible dog owner. So to have people next door to me freaking out is freaking me out.

So it's gotten me thinking - is there anybody out there who has a dog that never barks when they go outside to poop or pee? I don't think so.

I wrote my next door neighbours a letter and stuck it in their mailbox and told them to stop harassing me and told them that HRM has a dog bylaw that says that "A dog is considered to be making excessive noise if it barks or howls repeatedly for a period of 20 minutes." And my dogs never even get to bark for 1/20th of that time.

As well - here in Halifax - if you're going to complain about your neighbour's barking - you have to fill out a "barking dog log" and be prepared to go to court - the previous week they thought they could do some good by making a complaint to Animal Services about Bubby's barking - which was a complete waste of taxpayer money.

When the Animal Control Officer came to visit me he had already figured out that it was a nuisance complaint on the part of the complainer - they weren't willing to fill out the barking dog log, they probably couldn't say how much Bubby was barking, my dogs are legally registered with the city - I'm a typical good dog owner - so he basically apologized that he had to bother me, but he had to tell me that a complaint had been filed, and he was closing out the file and was sorry I had such asshole neighbours.

We're lucky we have the 20 minute rule and barking dog log here in Halifax - I went and had a look at a few dog bylaws around Nova Scotia - and most of them don't have the 20 minute rule in them - they almost all just say -

"No owner shall suffer, permit, allow or for any reason have his or her animal, bark or howl excessively or in any other manner disturb the quiet of any person"

That's Parrsboro's bylaw. I don't like that one too much.

Windsor Nova Scotia's bylaw has got a barking dog section that is mirrored in several towns across Nova Scotia - their's says -

"Any constable, Peace Officer or Bylaw Enforcement Officer, without notice to, or complaint against the owner of any dog, may IMPOUND a dog:
(d) which persistently disturbs the quiet of the neighbourhood by barking, howling or otherwise".

I don't like that one very much either.

The town of Truro has a whole section on what they call "Disruptive dogs" - it says "No dog shall be permitted to consistently disturb the quiet of a neighbourhood by barking,howling, or otherwise making noise to a degree beyond what the Animal Control Officer determines to be normal."

In their bylaw - everything is up to the discretion of the bylaw officer - and if we've learned anything here in the HRM - it's that leaving things up to the disretion of bylaw officers is a BAD thing. Usually it's the animals who lose.

Thinking about this subject brings to my mind a dog that my neighbours SHOULD have lived next door to - Po. Who became Henry - the wheaten mix from Cape Breton who was chained out his entire life and when his owners put up a fence in their backyard they put Po's dog house up BEHIND it so they wouldn't have to see him.

It was his constant barking that finally saved his life. A kind lady named Corinne could hear his constant barking night after night - and finally one day she walked through the neighbourhood to find the dog that she constantly heard barking - and she was brave enough to rescue him - and from there he went on a journey that took 6 long months to find his forever home - but Animal Rescue Coalitions never gave up on him - and today he is a fabulous dog transformed in the best home. And it was his constant barking that saved him.

Sometimes making a lot of noise gets you noticed in a positive way.


  1. My condolences Joan. Your neighbours are jerks. Some people are just crabby. My dogs bark to be let in. Trey has a tendency to bark at birds flying overhead, but none of them is allowed to bark for more than a minute of so.

    I used to have a neighbour back in Ontario who called police because, "I was putting nails in her driveway". NO -- never did. Never would. So I know what it's like to have awful neighbours.

  2. That's sad to hear that your neighbours are so terrible. At our last apartment we lived next to some incredibly inconsiderate neighbours. Loud noises at all times of day and perhaps the worst being during the summer months they decided to start having bonfires right out side of our bedroom window causing all the smoke to blow into our apartment and forcing us to close all our windows during the hot summer months. It eventually got so bad that we subleted out our place so we could get out of there.

    As far as the barking goes, yes constant barking can be a nuisance and there are some people who will put their dogs outside for hours and let them bark. Kobi is very much a nervous barker at the moment and almost guaranteed he will bark at some point on a walk or when out in the yard. I've been working with him for months to get him to decrease the amount he barks and am making progress. There are still some days though when I feel bad for my neighbours when he just seems to get freaked out by everything every couple of minutes and barks. It's a work in progress but I've been blessed with understanding neighbours.

  3. Joan, I'd give this the attention it deserves...which is not very much from the response of the animal control officer. There are some people who would complain about anything. Focus on the positive (your wonderful fir kids) and kill the neighbours with kindness, wave, say good morning, be bright and's amazing what positive vibes can acomplish. You are right, you are a responsible and loving dog parent and that is all that matters here.

  4. Anonymous11:17 PM

    I love how you end this post by invoking the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy ( Perhaps you should read HRM bylaw N-200:

    "Persistent barking, calling, whining or the making of any
    similar persistent noise-making by any animal; At All Times"

    Got that? At. All. Times.

    Now train your dog to STFU.

  5. You are just nasty. You need a drink.

  6. Susan Tombs5:24 AM

    Of course the STFU suggestion comes from Mr or Ms Anonymous. An f'ing coward and nothing more than another PITA… ie. Pain In The Ass. I think a drink won't help this kind of sad person… after all, alcohol is a depressant…

  7. Anonymous2:36 PM

    my dog doesnt make a sound when shes outside pooping or peeing. Its called controlling your animals. she barks when someone comes to the door and thats it. my neighbors dog barks constantly when im In MY driveway and the owner has no control. Thanks for this article, i will use my smartphone and stand in my driveway for 20 minutes and record this dog so he owner can be dealt with by the city. Too bad its illegal for me to hop your fence and control your dog right

  8. Anonymous12:11 AM

    Sounds like your neighbours are being a little unreasonable but as someone who does not own a dog, and has neighbours who do own one, I can kind of see where they are coming from. A dog barking who is not your own dog can be the most annoying sound ever, especially when you are a student like me the barking disturbs your sleep and studying. My neighbours dog used to bark near constantly. They would let her out at 7am, sometimes even earlier. The earliest I was woken up was 5AM (!!). Didn't matter if it was a weekday or not. She would bark for probably 10 or more minutes, then they would let her back in and it would stop. Then I would finally drift back to sleep and it would start again when they let her out again 30 min later for whatever reason (I don't own a they really need to be let out every 30 min?) I finally said something to my neighbours and that helped a little. She is still out barking and wakes me up every day but at least now it's not until 8am and it's only for 3-5 minutes. It still really irritates me though. I know that 8am is a reasonable time but I do not work a 9-5 job so I don't think it's fair for me to be forced to wake up at 8am everyday because they can't get their dog to be quiet. I understand that dogs bark, but I have plenty of friends with dogs who do very little barking. Anyways the moral of the story is to try and see it from your neighbours perspective.