Disturbing the Peace

June 9, 2010 at 7:28 am | Posted in Social Responsibility | 6 Comments
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I sit here at my desk in what should be a quiet street in a quiet village that is surrounded by bush and by water. There is little traffic noise, and a variety of bird calls is what I usually hear for most of the day. On the weekends, there is the clattering of mowers, the whine of leaf blowers or edge trimmers. They are annoying at times, but you know they will stop.

Increasingly over the last year or so, something else has become a permanent background noise in our neighbourhood. Dogs. More and more people are buying dogs: large, small and in-between; dogs with deep barks, yappy barks, or in-between barks. Why they get them, I do not know. Many of them have obviously not learned that, with a pet, comes an associated set of responsibilities.

Across the road is a small terrier. While the owners are home, it is quiet. As soon as they leave, it begins to bark; a constant ‘woof, woof, woof’, separated by a few seconds from the next ‘woof, woof, woof’, on and on and on. Just down the street, an elderly couple have a poodle. It, too, is quiet when the owners are at home or at least in the yard. Again, whenever they leave it, the barking – howling, I should say – starts, high pitched and constant.

Then there is the big house only three houses from us in the other direction. Three months ago, new dogs made their presence known to the neighbourhood; small ones, probably Maltese-Shi-Tzu cross – they are hard to see up on their high verandah. The two dogs seem to be competing to make the highest pitched, longest stretch of noise. They are good at it; every time anyone passes they start. They are never taken out, and when they are alone, they enjoy yapping at maximum volume. I haven’t spoken with their next-door neighbours since they returned from holiday – the dogs appeared while they were away. I am not sure if I should bring up that topic when I do.

Recently, new people bought the house behind and a couple of houses away from us. They have two large dogs – two large dogs that bark, one of them often, and its barking was the reason I began writing this item, in frustration at the constant noise and our inability to do a darned thing about it.

Why do so many people think you can just get a dog and it will automatically do whatever it is supposed to do? Why can’t they take others into consideration when buying pets? Don’t they see that dogs must be trained to live in a family, as well as in a community without disturbing the neighbours? Dogs are social animals, and suffer when left alone all day, especially if steps are not taken to provide activities to occupy them.

They need to be socialised, both with other dogs and other people. When dogs are not allowed out of their yards, they become extremely territorial. Any approach to it is perceived as an intrusion into that territory. Dogs need exercise, preferably outside of their territory; given a certain amount of freedom from the prison of their house or yard. They should be taught to obey simple directions. Can people not see these things? It appears that most of them cannot.

There are two dogs in another nearby house. These large dogs have a big yard to run about in, but are also walked regularly. They rarely bark, even when other dogs pass by, and they behave well on a lead. These animals are fortunate. They have what is so rare these days – responsible owners; owners who love their animals and therefore do what is best for them, training, exercising and socialising them. These owners are good to have around (even though I have never met them), because their dogs do not disturb any of the neighbours. How I wish we had more like them!

© Linda Visman


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  1. A very good post and so true. My next door neighbours have two dogs that NEVER go anywhere…walking onto my verandah is a signal for them to start barking.
    I take my dog,weather permitting, for a long walk on the beach every day…if we go out we have to leave her inside where she is as good as gold.
    Fortunately, she has excellent bladder control!!!

  2. Thank you for reading and commenting, granny (looks like you are about my age!). It is good to hear of someone who cares for their dog, but a pity that you have the same problem with the neighbour’s animals!

  3. Excellent post and I am in completely agreement. With ownership of any animal comes responsibility. And many pet owners take this too lightly, and it creates hardships for others to endure.

    We live in an apartment complex now beside three other families. One neighbor has a small yap-yap dog that tends to bark excessively while they are away and there is no escaping the noise since we live across the hallway, and another neighbor has a huge dog that is trained very well.

    We want to respect our neighbors and this is why we’ve chosen not to have a pet until we can be in a home away from neighbors.

  4. Thanks for reading and commenting, Debi. Yes, we too would love a dog. Both of us have lived for many years previously in rural areas. We had other animnals as well as dogs, but there are just too many badly brough-up dogs in this suburban neighbourhood.
    We would want our dog to have the run of the outdoors as well as indoors. As we do not have fences around our place – we love the openness – it is unfortunately not practical.

  5. Dogs need to be included in their owner’s everyday life as much as possible. When a carer can’t provide adequate training, walking and other interesting activities, their dog(s) are very likely to develop nuisance behaviours. Most problems stem from boredom.

    • So true, Margaret! Most of these people shouldn’t have a dog. Since I wrote that post, the situation is even worse, with more dogs in the area, and most of them left alone all day and others allowed to keep barking even when the people are at home. It is so frustrating that the Council will do nothing to help – it’s our problem.

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