Having a dog that you keep healthy and happy can be an essential part of a home. And if you already have great relationships with your neighbors, your dog will always be happy to see them, and the neighbors will return the favor. But there are those times when your dog will be outside at 5am (or any other time of the day) and get the smell of an overnight visitor and start barking loud and long enough to awaken the whole neighborhood, or howl when he hears a fire truck siren (and keep howling when it goes away). Or he may decide he hates your neighbor’s dog, and each day is a festival of snarls and barks and raised hackles.
If you own a dog and wish to keep good relationships with your neighbors, keep in mind some basic dog-owner etiquette.
Always Pick Up After Your Dog
Probably the biggest complaint after loud and incessant barking is uncaring dog owners who, while taking the pet out for a walk, will let it move its bowels in a neighbor’s yard and not pick it up. There can even be a case made for legal action against people who let their dogs use a neighbor’s yard as a bathroom. Always pick up the package after the dog drops it. Keep a supply of pick-up bags (you can purchase a pack of 270 eco-friendly bags for $11.99 online) with you as you walk your dog. If your dog gets away and roams the neighborhood before he comes home, check to see if anything was left behind.
Minimize the Barking
According to Alana Tugend in The New York Times, barking dogs are apparently at the top of the list of complaints of people living in the suburbs. And since more people are working from home, noises such as barking dogs can interfere with someone’s productivity. What’s more, in some cities, you can be cited for having a dog that never stops barking. The Humane Society of the United States says you should never yell at a dog to be quiet because it sounds like you’re barking along with him. Instead, the organization recommends that you “remove the motivation” to bark. If the dog is outside, bring him in when he starts. If he barks after seeing something out the window, close the curtains or blinds. In either case, reward the dog with a treat when he stops. Meanwhile, the American Kennel Club recommends frequent exercise for a dog to help him settle down and bark less.
Off and Stay Off
If you have a gregarious dog who’s always happy to see people, then you’ll know that it’s hard to keep him from jumping up and putting his paws on them. It’s especially embarrassing if the dog has muddy paws or untrimmed claws. The best way to keep your dog from jumping is to start early. When you come home and your dog is getting ready to jump on you, grab his collar and gently push him back. Use a word like “off” or “easy” to reinforce the training. When he’s on a leash and starts jumping, pull him back and use the same words. In both cases, reward him with a treat when he obeys.
Good Fences and Neighbors
If your dog spends a lot of time outside, consider installing a fence to keep him from roaming around the neighborhood when your attention is elsewhere. However, this option won’t come very cheap. Most homeowners spend between $1,692 and $3,981 to install a wood fence, but it’s ultimately a small price to pay to keep your neighbors happy and your pet safe.
Your neighbors can easily get to know and love your dog and even recognize them as being part of the neighborhood. You can be a good dog-owning neighbor if you pick up after them, minimize the barking, and teach them not to jump on people. Your neighbors will be grateful, and your dog will be a welcome part of the place where you live.
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