How should I deal with my problem neighbour? 360



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When I read back the title of my article, one word comes to mind… Move! But I’m not ready to yet. I live in a lovely Brisbane suburb filled with families. All of my close friends live within a few streets of me and we’ve all raised our children together going to the local primary school and high schools, going to church together and spending time “house-hopping” from one person’s home to another depending on who had a pool or tennis court or air-conditioning!

I love where I live except for one thing… My neighbour.

I live next to an older couple who, when we first met, were quite sweet. The wife worked every day trading stocks and the husband stayed at home. They were unusual in their own little ways – he wouldn’t watch any sport live as it gave him anxiety so he would wait to read the score in the paper and then watch a recording. They collected newspapers and had a lovely pool but chose not to maintain it claiming that pool products were “gimmicks” and we’d almost believe it until it went green again.

We had a loud family with our three children but we did our best to teach them manners. They called our neighbours by name and would drop in to say hello and would wave when they walked past. The boys would help them around the garden and would take out the bins and our daughter would drop some muffins in if she was baking.

We always got along well, as different as we were, until we did one thing. We got a dog. Now, even though I’m full of bias, I can really say that our dog is beautiful. He greets people at the door, doesn’t jump up, waits for the magic word before eating his dinner, can shake, roll and play dead and the best thing about him is that he doesn’t bark – unless there are possums around.

Living in Australia in our leafy family suburb beside a bush reserve means that in the warmer months we do have the occasional possum climbing a tree or running along the fence. And like every Labrador-Retriever, it is his instinct to bark.

Since getting our beautiful man three years ago, every summer we have received a council notice complaining about dog barking. The councilmen come out and conduct random assessments and find no barking at all, even with incentive. Our neighbour has also door-knocked around the street to ask people to sign a petition to “remove him” or for him to undergo “suitable treatment”. I must say that to my delight, none of our neighbours agreed nor signed it.

But last weekend I think I had my final straw. We had arrived at a family function for a Birthday at 6:45pm and the following text exchange happened:


Wife of neighbour (7:30pm):

Toby has been unsettled barking on and off since 7:10pm. Our homes are too close and the barking is quite distressful. Can you please do something.

Me (7:40pm):

Hi (wife of neighbour’s name), we are currently at a special family dinner. One of us will go home and collect him as soon as possible. This is a special family event for a birthday so it might not be for a while I’m afraid. Toby is a dog and there are possums around which cause him to bark. John has just confirmed that his fence is up, that prevents him from running up beside your home so he is only in the central back garden not next to the fence.

Wife of neighbour (7:45pm):

Thank you. We have checked before letting you know. The issue is the loud bark which is especially distressing. It only appears to happen and bother us when no one is home. It is an anxiety bark. There are no possums, we cut our trees down to stop them. It would help if he had a dog collar.

Me (7:50pm):

In the last year we did purchase a barking collar that cost in excess of $200 at the request of you and your husband. We also installed a camera outside to track his activity while we were out. The barking collar did not deter him when we saw possums – we watched this all on video footage. There were no other times that he barked while we filmed other than when we saw possums. We are at a family function and will leave when we can. Cheers.

Wife of neighbour (8:00pm):

Please do.


Toby is a dog. He does things like bark. Our house is on a very large block too with about eight metres on either side of the house to the fence. I understand that barking isn’t pleasant, but no one else in the neighbourhood complains, our other neighbour is an 86-year-old woman who lives alone and she loves Toby and doesn’t mind his occasional barks.

I don’t know what we should do about our neighbour but right now if he caught me in the wrong mood I think I would say words I have never said before!

Tell me, have you had neighbour troubles before too? What happened? What do you think I should do?

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  1. This is dreadful . Selfish people . If the dog barked nonstop all day then it would be an issue . There are people who are darn right misery .. To others and themselves . I feel so sorry for the people with the beautiful dog .

  2. Unfortunately some dogs do tend to bark insistently once owners leave them home alone,owners can not appreciate the level of annoyance this can cause because they are not home if you are trying to go about your business with non stop barking noise coming into your home for more than an hour or so it can certainly put your nerves on edge,I am speaking as a dog owner myself,love mine to pieces,answer possibly look at taking dog with you where possible or have a place inside the house where he can wait happily for family to return.

    5 REPLY
    • I wholeheartedly agree. Perfect answer, take the dog to the family gathering. SIMPLE.

      1 REPLY
      • They may be at a restaurant or someplace you can’t take a dog.

    • Having read all of this, it appears that the dog’s owners have filmed the dog when they are not at the house, and the dog only barks when there are possums around….the neighbour when speaking to the owner, said the dog was barking, but also stated there were no possums around….stalemate…or neighbours that don’t like dogs….

    • Or possums the camera doesn’t catch , they are around here in the trees and are very quick little soldiers

    • Nothing worse than a barking dog, compassion or not. Why can’t you put him in the garage or in the house when you are not present. We have 2 dogs & if they caused a problem, this would solve it

    • Council Rangers have options for such occasions like “citrus” spray collars activated by barking and often trains the dog to bark less often, barking monitors to track days/times/frequency etc. However, sometimes neighbours, often elderly and fixed in their ways, are less tolerant of foreign noise and prone to complain. Keep up your polite dialogue and maybe consider speaking with any younger relatives of your neighbours to explain that you are trying and maybe they can work on the neighbours attitude. Good luck .

  3. Sorry you have such awful neighbours, please be careful as some people do terrible things if they are upset with your dog. Our son had this problem, luckily the citronella collar solved their problem, but it sounds like your dog may need some behaviour training, he could have separation anxiety. We bought our dog a Thundershirt, she is scared of thunder, but they also work for anxiety. Might be worth getting one and seeing if it helps. Good luck!!

  4. I also have the same problem with a dumb male behind us exactly the same. However, he stands on the fence with an illegal police siren and hammer banging the fence to annoy them. This doesnt upset my dogs until I go outside and ask him What the hell he is doing. This man has it in for me as I have 3 dogs. Last time I had to call the Police which isnt a great idea. I am going to move but not because of him. You have done everything possible to accommodate them so hang in there. Come on neighbours Dogs Bark Thats Life. Only other option is to have him Debarked but are the neighbours going to pay for it No. Good Luck and soldier in.

    2 REPLY
    • Three dogs wow I believe you are the problem not the neighbour

    • I had a problem with one of mine who barks at just one neighbour (and he made her worse by yelling at her). He became abusive and said he would do something to her if we didn’t shut her up. We’d had a dog trainer in and she suggested a couple of things. However, I did look into the debarking and that is illegal. To do it there has to be a court order. We ended up putting up a 6ft fence that the dog couldn’t see through on our side. Also the citronella collars work for us.

  5. I hate dogs barking myself and keep mine inside a lot to stop them doing it. Our elderly neighbour tells us she is OK with it, she knows there is someone around if our dogs are outside and barking. We are getting a house built on the other side so after 14 years will see what happens there.

  6. I had similar problems with 3 neighbours with dogs. After 26 years i sold and moved. So happy. No barking dogs or indifferent neighbours.

  7. I have a similar problem with my barking dog who annoys my next door neighbour. The city council came by and recommended that I put my dog in a room, with the radio or TV on so the dog can’t hear what is going on outside. I give him a chew toy, and he has a anti-barking collar, and this seems to have worked. Of course I don’t leave him alone for long, long periods. At least your neighbour talks to you. My neighbour simply rang the city council, who came out but with no details as to what had triggered the complaints. Barking dogs can be very annoying to some people. If your neighbour is annoyed, there is little you can do about it except try to keep your dog from making her life a misery.

  8. Sorry have a neighbour whose dog barks as soon as we sit down to relax at night drives us balmy and unless u are listening to it you wouldnt understand haven’t reported it yet because don’t won’t to upset the neighbours but have been close

    2 REPLY
    • Maria, report it …we did for my parents when the dog next door barked non stop. The council advised us not to approach the neighbours about this as it has led to a lot of problems between neighbours…the council advised my parents to keep a barking diary for two weeks and they would approach the neighbours on our worked and the neighbours were appreciative as they had no idea…

    • Thanks Frances unfortunately small country town and know the neighbours won’t take it very well and as work in a bank and have to deal with my neighbour would make it very uncomfortable so we are caught between a rock and a hard place so far is not keeping us awake we just turn the TV up worse in summer when we have the windows open

  9. Have to totally agree with Cheryl. We had neighbours who felt it was fine to go off on holdays as long as someone fed the dog. That dog yapped and yapped and yapped on and off all day for 3 weeks. It barked everytime someone walked past the gate. I only had to deal with that once or twice a year and it drove me nuts. If that dog had been barking everyday I wouldn’t have coped.

    We’ve had neighbours aquire dogs over the years, and we’ve had to put up with the barking at all hours for a month or so until the dog gets used to its surroundings then settles down.- 3 years this dog has been barking. 3 years. It’s time for the owners to stop being selfish here. Keep the dog inside, especially if no one is home, especially if you know you have possums that trigger the barking.

    Nobody likes to put up with anybody’s barking dogs.

    There’s an old saying. You’re own children make music, everybody else’s make noise.
    Basically, if you’re kids are out in the backyard screaming and yelling with laughter and having a great time, mum can be in the house getting on with her day comforted by the fact she can hear her kids voices, they are happy and safe. That’s not how the neighbours see it. Can you imagine having a migraine and having to listen to that. Even mum would put a stop to it if she had a migraine. But nobody really gives a thought to how neighbours might feel, and that’s life. If we live in suburbia, we have to accept neighbours and children. Animals however are a different matter. Especially when you’re off having a lovely family dinner, you know your dog barks, yet you leave it outside.

    The neighbours have already cut down there trees to try to reduce possums. They’ve talked to the owners about the problem. They’ve even taken it to council. Not much more they can do. It’s time for the owners to be good neighbours and keep the dog inside especially when they’re not home as clearly they are unable to stop this dog from barking.

  10. We have four neighbours on our boundary who between them have six dogs who continually bark. At times I just feel like screaming.

  11. I have a neighbour with a small yapping dog. Yes it’s annoying but she’s a dog. I also have a Labrador and an Italiano Spinone both are getting on now and rarely bark. I was thinking and I don’t know if it’s possible but maybe try to explain to them that your dog could be a deterrent to intruders. When it barks it could keep them safer. It sounds like these people are bored and lonely. They could be getting very agitated in their advancing years and due to boredom have turned their attentions to the nearest thing unfortunately it being your dog. Would your neighbour on the other side assist by either allowing the dog to visit them or distracting him when he barks. Or get sensor lights if the backyard has some light when your out possums maybe less likely to come. Very hard situation but I don’t think you should contemplate moving after all no one else seems to have the problem with your dog.

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