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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ASK THE DOG TRAINER: Keeping the Neighbors Happy

by Judith Joseph 
(c) Carrie Boyko
Neighbors will Tolerate a
Well-Mannered Dog 

Dear Judy:

I just moved into a different house. My new neighbors on each side are not dog lovers. My dog is friendly and wants to go up to them when she sees them outside. One neighbor is fearful and will back away or go inside before I can talk to her.  I have had one chance to speak with her when Dolly was not outside with me. The lady just has no interest and wishes I would keep my dog on a leash at all times. Dolly stays in the yard, so it is not about that. I guess she thinks Dolly will run to her yard and scare her, but so far Dolly is good about staying in our yard.

The other neighbor ignores my dog, even when she is trying so hard to get some attention from this man.  It's okay that he isn't a fan of dogs, but he seems to be transferring this attitude to me as the owner. I probably need to work on SIT STAY or quiet (she does bark a little to get attention) with Dolly, so that when the neighbors are outside she will not walk toward them or bark at them. I don't want enemies for neighbors. Can you suggest anything I might teach Dolly that would help me gain their confidence in her? I will need instructions, too please. 

Thanks, A.M.

Dear A.M.:

You can’t pick your family, and unfortunately, you can’t pick your neighbors either.  No matter how friendly your dog is, or how obedient or cute she may be, if your friends, family or neighbors are not dog lovers, there isn’t anything that you can do to change them.  However, there are several things you should do to keep the peace. 

First and foremost, respect your neighbor’s individuality.  They may be irritated at the sound of a dog’s barking, preferring the quiet serenity of fish, cats or birds.  Perhaps they were frightened by a dog at an early age and have developed a phobia.  Or could be a previous neighbor’s dog wasn’t a friendly dog.  Your neighbor could be allergic to dogs.  Maybe they just don’t like dogs, period.  

Whatever the reason, as a responsible dog owner, you must control your dog.  Establish clear boundaries and keep your dog out of your neighbors yards at all times.  If there is not a fence and you cannot put one up, add potted plants or flowers to clearly define your property line.  Always keep her on her leash if there is even a remote possibility you and your neighbors will be outdoors at the same time.  If you are out for a walk and she begins barking at a neighbor, correct her immediately, cross the street or turn and go in the other direction.  

Teach her to obey “sit”, “stay”, “down” and “quiet” and only allow others to pet her when she is seated or in a down position, quiet and calm.   There are many do-it-yourself training books and videos available for purchase on-line, and in your local library, pet or book store.   Once trained, she will be welcomed at the many dog friendly outdoor cafes, pet stores, and dog parks where she can meet, greet, and socialize with many other dog lovers. 

The best way to show your neighbors what a wonderful dog you have is to make sure she is never a nuisance to them.   If they can ‘forget’ she is there, they won’t have any negative feelings towards her – or you.   Sounds a little harsh for us dog lovers, but the truth is you can’t change other people, so let her be an ambassador for all dogs by being the best dog neighbor she can be.   

Visit your neighbors (without your dog), to let them know that you will do your best to keep her well-mannered, quiet, on leash, and off their property.   And then make it happen.  Being a dog owner involves many unexpected responsibilities, but they are our responsibilities none-the-less.

For tips on teaching Sit, Stay, Down and Quiet commands visit Total Control Dog Owner Assistance, or contact a local dog trainer for one-on-one help with obedience training.

Good luck,

Judith Joseph, D.O.I.
ASK THE TRAINER at All Things Dog Blog
Send your questions to:

For more information on Judith Joseph and her training, you may find her at TCDOA Dog Training. A personal appointment will likely provide more specific information on your dog's issues and your questions.

Be sure to stop in at my dogs' blog, 5 Minutes for Fido, to check out Xena's commentary on this topic. 
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© Carrie Boyko, all rights reserved

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Thanks to D.Q. for sharing Elmo, today's Cover Dog. Isn't he handsome. I bet he's a good neighbor.


Anonymous said...

I work all day and the neighbor wants nothing to do with my dog. He says he is scared of my dog. I ask him to come over and suggested treats. He's too frighten. J is a big chocolate lab and has a nasty growl.

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