By Susan Oliver, PCAM®
OMNI – Oliver Management Network, Inc.

A neighbor’s barking dog can strain the enjoyment of one’s home. If you work from home, or if the dog barks uncompromisingly through the night, it can make your home seem like a place where rest or peace are seldom an option. If barking is a problem in your community, here are some easy solutions to silence it. If the board is comfortable approaching the owner, many times a simple conversation may work; however, this action may be met with hostility. Acknowledge what you know about the neighbor. If he or she is the friendly sort, a direct approach may work best.

Sometimes the neighbor is unaware of the problem, especially if the dog is left outside while they are at work. If you feel the neighbor is unsafe to approach, or when he or she does not comply with your request to remedy the situation, you have other options. For the unapproachable neighbor, the Association may direct a courtesy letter to the owner and/or tenant. The board should communicate, in polite terms, the issue and request the owner bring his or her dog inside. It may be helpful to include a list of resources and solutions for the neighbor to help facilitate resolution.

The board may also fine a dog owner pursuant to the association’s rules and regulations. To fine a dog owner for a barking dog validly, the association should have a “nuisance” prohibition in its CCR’s. Ideally, the CCR’s or rules should also address obnoxious animals. In addition, because it is difficult for a board to “independently verify” a barking dog violation, at least two complaints from two different owners should be submitted. Prior to fining, an owner must be provided with notice of the violation and given an opportunity to address the board of directors (or other association representative) at a hearing. Additionally, you also have the option of contacting local animal control to report barking dogs.

Animal control has some options available to it that are not available to the association; these may be more effective than the association’s enforcement abilities. Local animal control will likely notify the owner of the problem and, if the problem is severe enough, fine the owner, issue a violation, or remove the dog. To strengthen your community, you may want to encourage group animal play. Many times a dog will bark because of boredom. If a community contains a large number of dogs, the board may consider reserving portions of the common elements (if feasible) for a dog park.

Dogs will be able to exercise and play with other dogs, making them less likely to bark. If all attempts at voluntary compliance fail, and the dog continues to be an unrepentant barker, the association may have to initiate legal action against the owner to enforce its covenants. Through such legal action, the association can seek an order requiring the owner to keep the dog inside or possibly even an order requiring the dog be removed from the community.

You can also try a few things to stop the dog yourself: blow an inaudible dog whistle, find out the dog’s name and call out to it to be quiet, or praise it when it is quiet. Additionally, there are a few inaudible, anti-barking devices you can install in your yard, but some dogs ignore these. Whatever you decide, do not respond by making threats to the neighbor, violating noise laws (like blaring music at the dog at 1 AM), or showing up at the neighbor’s front door everyday to complain. If you do this, the neighbor may complain to the police about YOU. Remember to approach community problems with solutions to avoid making things worse.

Re-blogged from:  Community Associations Institute "The Voice" Newsletter, First Quarter 2011.

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