Dear Abby

I am very lucky to live in a wonderful neighborhood. I am very unlucky in that one of my neighbors owns the Dog From Hell, a dog whose bark rivals that of the Hound of the Baskervilles dozens of times every day.

I work from home and the barking is a chronic problem when I'm on conference calls. Even if I close all the doors and windows, the noise is still disruptive. Once client recently asked, "Whoever has the dog, please put your phone on mute." The only problem with that was the fact that I was the one talking.

Most people in our neighborhood share my frustration with the noise, but the complaints are usually whispered as gossip among those passing by. A couple of years ago, I made a clear request of the neighbor to please keep the dog quiet, to no avail. Nothing changed. Last month, I wrote the neighbor a note, explaining that I would contact the police if the loud barking continued unabated. The neighbor responded by taking my note to the police, which resulted in a file being opened regarding my "threatening" communications. If I contact my neighbor again, I would not be surprised to find myself charged with dog stalking.

It seems my options are

  • suck it up and tolerate the noise
  • go ahead and contact the police myself
  • start making more noise than the devil dog
  • move to the country and trade in barking for rooster crowing

Got any advice?

Sleepless in Chapel Hill


Escalate but not directly to owner

It may help if some of the other neighbors also complain to the owner. There's the off chance that the neighbor thinks you are the only one with a beef and upon learning others have the same complaint will do something.

Don't contact the owner anymore unless they ask you to. Just call the police. If nothing else, you will gain a better understanding of Chapel Hill's ordinances and more importantly the PD's approach. Barking dog complaints probably go back thousands of years, so I am sure Chapel Hill has dealt with the issue. It will certainly help if you are not the only one complaining.

Start documenting. Build you case to show to the PD, Town Council, and perhaps ultimately the judge.

I would not go the route of making your own noise as it will probably hurt your case at all levels of escalation.

Drives me crazy

I've got one right across the street. It's just a little dog, but when he gets into a barking competition with another a few streets over that I can barely hear, he puts every ounce of energy into his yapping. They'll go at it for an hour or more, and then take a few minutes to catch their breath, and then start right back up again.

Just call the cops, James. You tried the diplomatic route, and that jerkwad tried to get the law on you. I'm sure there's a noise ordinance in the town, and if they say that doesn't apply to barking dogs, it's petition time.


I tried something similar last year. Spent $70 on a well-reviewed device that didn't work at all. The dog is about 50 yards away, even though it sounds like it's barking inside my head.

I did try once to befriend the dog, thinking it might help. (Right now, we can't even go into our back yard when the dog is outside.) It didn't help ... and I almost lost my arm in the process.

The neighbor has a sign at the front of the house warning that there is an "unfriendly dog" inside the fence. Talk about understatement.


One of the things about my insurgent campaign is that I feel fully free to be myself. It's been quite liberating.

Possible abuse?

If the dog is barking constantly, there has to be a reason.

Is there something wrong with the dog, a kind of mental problem? Has the dog been trained to bark at everthing in site?

Or, is it simply being neglected and wanting attention?

In the past, I've experience something similar and it was someone that kept a dog chained up outside all the time, only going out to feed it. Could be an animal cruelty thing to consider.

I think not

This dog barks only when someone comes nearby. If I go into my backyard, it barks, even though it's 50 yards away across a stream.

When any fisherman or boater or kid on a raft or canoeist comes within the dog's visibility, it goes into a frenzy that lasts until the person moves out of sight. The dog probably thinks its barking gets rid of the pedestrian or paddler (depending on which side of the house it's on) and therefore doubles down on the noise.

I also suspect the owner likes the fact that passers-by are highly motivated to pass by quickly.

Probably counterproductive..

...but satisfying might be the employment of one of those loud emergency air horns. Certainly lots of collateral pissing off of the other neighbors, but it might feel good.

Dog days again

I dunno, James. If someone tied you up outside and never paid attention to you, wouldn't you be glad to talk to anyone passing by?

Another commenter might be on to something with the airhorn idea. If the dog's been trained to bark at passerby, then a passerby sounding an airhorn at it would probably quieten it down and cause it to retreat - your bark would be more intimidating than his.

Dog Days for James?

It seems my options are

•suck it up and tolerate the noise
•go ahead and contact the police myself
•start making more noise than the devil dog
•move to the country and trade in barking for rooster crowing
Got any advice?*James

1. Don't suck it up! Get Even! It works every time..

2. Don't go to the Cops! They will use anything you say against you and plus, you are now a enemy of the State in their secret terrorist animal file.

3. Yes! Shoot off Fireworks at midnight and tell them you are a Great American Patriot like the Republicans ?

4. Naw! Don't move! With your luck so far, chances are that you would move next to a Redneck neighbor who was into finding Bigfoot and he would capture you as a example of a Alien Space Breeding program that went terrible wrong by our Government..

Do what I do! Capture the Dog and take him to a redneck Gun show in a cover cage with a sign on it saying " $2.00 dollars for view of a ancient Roman legion attack mascot, the last remaining specis of it's kind left in North Carolina" If the Rednecks demand a refund, turn the Dog loose on them and shout "Kill!Kill! In the name of Ceasar"

Not too damned smart...

It is a terribly cruel death.
It could get you convicted of a felony.
And you'd have to live with yourself the rest of your life knowing you were the chicken-shit SOB who poisoned a dog.


I was going to say something after I cooled off a little. A lot of things piss me off these days, but cruelty to animals is on a whole list of its own.


Poisoning would be a declaration of full on war to me, and it would lead the owner right back to the only known complainer so far. And it's a shitty inhumane thing to do!

I can offer no advice, having been the owner of two dogs who drove my former best friend and me apart over their yapping. We eventually moved away and solved the problem that way.

Now I carry on business with crowing roosters, cackling hens, and a fairly big dog of my own (though he's pretty quiet). Makes for some interesting business calls.

Good luck!


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Animal control

Your local animal control officer is likely to be smarter and far more helpful than the police in dealing with this issue.


A quick update.

I forwarded a link to this post to the Chapel Hill Police Department (to give them a heads up) and received a prompt and courteous reply, offering to help in anyway. I love those guys ... they are absolutely top notch in every way.

So if the barking continues, I will immediately contact the Department and ask for their assistance.

For what it's worth, I hate burdening law enforcement officers with this kind of crap, but I also hate having every day of every week of every year disrupted by the devil dog. It's a real dilemma.

Most LEOs are really good people

I know that doesn't fit the Libertarian "police state" meme, but it's the truth.

I'd say dealing with your neighbor

I'd say dealing with your neighbor and his dog is a much better use of their time and resources than many other activities they might otherwise be doing.


"...the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Good point

The chief of police said they deal with this stuff all the time ... and seemed not surprised to see such conflict involving an old fogie like me.