DennisBeaverJuly 23, 2016 • By Dennis Beaver

If you’ve been hearing complaints from neighbors — which you doubt — that your dogs are constantly barking, there’s a good chance that we can help reduce some of the tension that probably exists in the neighborhood and save you hundreds of dollars in barking dog fines. We begin with an email from “Jill,” a Eureka reader:

“Neighbors tell us that when we are gone, our three French poodles are barking all the time, and even when we are home, they bark at night.

“On occasion, we’ve found taped to our front door a bright yellow sign reading, “QUIET YOUR DOGS OR WE WILL ALL SUE YOU FOR MAINTAINING A NUISANCE!”

“Mr. Beaver, please understand that we are severely hearing impaired, and are usually at our business for much of the day.

“Until my husband blocked their numbers, neighbors would sometimes call at two in the morning, telling us to bring the dogs inside, which we’ve done. Animal control has given us two citations. Frankly, we don’t hear them barking, but, then again, we don’t hear much of anything.

“My husband is beginning to show early signs of dementia — and doesn’t seem to care if the neighbors are bothered, but we both read your column every week and respect your advice. If it is true that our dogs are constantly barking, is there something we can do or some device we can purchase that will not harm the dogs but which will help to stop the barking?

We ran Jill’s email by animal control officers in cities across America, receiving virtually identical comments and suggestions, which we paraphrase:

“Neighbors don’t make this stuff up. As the pet owners may not be at home, they are often unaware of their dog’s nuisance barking — contrasted with protective barking that occurs when an animal or person comes onto or near its property. The adverse health consequences in exposure to the sound of nuisance barking is well documented.

“Typically the courts raise the fine significantly with each Barking Dog citation — up to $1,000 here — leading the owner to bring the dog inside or get rid of it,” commented a Los Angeles animal control officer, adding, “and we have seen cases where neighbors get together and file suit, obtain an injunction, attorney fees, and punitive damages.

“In the process, a neighborhood is ruined, all because one family forgot to ‘Love your neighbors as yourself — The Second Commandment.’ ”

Is there some device which helps to stop the barking, and reduce the chances of a worsening legal situation? Yes, it’s a class of products which listen for the sound of a dog’s nuisance barking and immediately emits a harmless ultrasonic tone that does not harm the dog but which is irritating. Associating the unpleasant tone with barking, the pooch remains quiet and unharmed.

For the past several weeks, along with animal control Officers, Veterinarians and friends of this column, we have been testing a new generation of devices manufactured by Medford, Oregon,-based Good Life, Inc. These include:

  • The Dog Silencer – used primarily to stop a neighbor’s dog from nuisance barking;
  • The BarkWise UltraSonic Collar – Intended for the owner’s dog.

We must point out that, while there are several items on the market which we have tested with highly variable results, The Dog Silencer has performed in an outstanding manner. This comment from Southern California Labor Law attorney Jay Rosenlieb is typical of the feedback we have received:

“Dennis, for the past week I have tested The Dog Silencer that you lent to me. It is truly amazing! A nearby dog that continually barked is now silent. I know the dog is still there because I have seen it. The device is very easy to set up and operate.”

Hanford veterinarian Dr. Lee Fausett observes that, “Dog owners need to respect their neighbor’s right to peace and quiet. Blocking their phone number — making it impossible to be informed of the barking once again — is not mature.

“It is difficult to be neighborly when, over months or weeks, you have put up with nonstop barking. These situations can get ugly, so don’t just hope that it will go away; promptly and politely speak with your neighbor and contact animal control,” he recommends.

And so, to our readers who might not be aware or, as happens, are aware but simply do not care, common sense and your wallet points in one direction: these devices are worth a try. They are better and far less expensive than a citation from animal control, or a lawsuit.

Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and enjoys hearing from his readers. Contact Dennis Beaver.