Ask the Expert

Noisy neighbors

Q: Since our neighbors moved in about 6 months ago we have had constant issues with their dogs barking day and night. They live in a small two-bedroom house with a tiny yard and the dogs are big Labradors. Their barks are really deep and loud and can be heard easily in our house, and it keeps our 2-year-old awake. What can we do?

Barking dogs are one of the most common complaints Anchorage Animal Care and Control deals with. In 2015, Animal Control issued 401 letters to owners of barking dogs and officers made contact with 326 owners.

Like any issue, there are two sides to this problem: 1) neighbors who have to listen to the barking; and 2) the dog owner who may not know their dog is barking or who knows their dog is barking but doesn’t know how to solve the problem.

Let’s start with No. 1: We know it can be tough, but it’s always good to start by telling your neighbor their dog’s barking is a problem. If talking to your neighbor doesn’t resolve the issue, then it might be time to call Animal Control. Before calling, make sure the barking fits the definition of chronic animal noise in Title 17: “repeated vocalization by any animal or animals in a 60-minute period from the time the noise begins for more than five consecutive minutes during the daytime noise period from 7 am to 10 pm and more than five consecutive minutes during the nighttime noise period from 10 pm to 7 am.” Note: The key word in this definition is “consecutive.”

When a barking complaint is received, Animal Control issues a letter to the dog’s owner and, if necessary, follows up with a visit to the home. If the issue remains unresolved the owner can be subject to fines.

Moving on to No. 2: What if your dog is the one barking? Try to figure out why your dog is barking. Is she bored and lonely? She might need more physical and/or mental exercise including walks, training and brain-teasing toys to engage with while you’re gone. Is she frustrated? For instance, if your dog can see people and other dogs walking by, is there a way to block her view? Is she afraid? Maybe there are noises in the neighborhood that make her nervous. For more information on barking, visit the website of Denver Dumb Friends League (ddfl.org) and download “The Barking Dog” found under Behavior Help.

To issue a complaint with Animal Control regarding barking or any animal welfare-related issues, contact dispatch at 343-8119.

Laura Atwood is the Public Relations Coordinator for Anchorage Animal Care and Control. muni.org/animal