5 Tips for Dealing With a Neighbor’s Aggressive Dog

Here are some things you can try (and others you should not try) to make things more peaceful.

Had it up to here with that mean dog next door? The first step is to remain calm. By: lidiafairey
Had it up to here with that mean dog next door? The first step is to remain calm. By: lidiafairy

Many of us have been put into the position of being afraid to walk out our own back door because when we do, the barks, howls and snarls that erupt from the neighboring yard are terrifying.

What can you do in a situation like this? Here are some things you can try (and others you should not try) to make things more peaceful.

1. Try to Be Diplomatic

If you approach your neighbor with fire in your eyes, he will go on the defensive.


Sit down and talk with your neighbor if possible. You may discover that he is already aware of the problem and has signed up for obedience classes.

Give your neighbor time to correct the problem. People don’t change overnight, and neither do dogs. One day, or even one week, is not enough time to make lasting changes.

2. No Yelling or Leaving Mean Notes

Unless you have no other choice, leaving notes on the doorstep or in the mailbox is not the way to go. Your neighbor will either miss them entirely or dismiss them as unimportant.

By initiating face-to-face conversation, as discussed above, you are allowing your neighbor the respect he deserves and sending a clear message that this issue is important.

3. Consider Your Possible Role in This

Review your own routine and see if there might be something that is stirring up Spartacus next door.

  • Do you regularly have wildlife (such as deer) entering your yard?
  • Do you have children who might be unknowingly making the situation worse by teasing?
  • Do your own pets antagonize your neighbor’s dog?

Honestly evaluate what you can do to help alleviate this aggressive behavior. You may consider fencing your yard if it is affordable. Check out my fencing tips.

4. Don’t Rush to Call Animal Control — Yet

Here’s why you need to give diplomacy a try first:

  • It will foster good relations with the person that you are stuck living next to for the foreseeable future.
  • If you are able to explain the effort you have made with your neighbor to an Animal Control officer, she might be grateful and take your complaint more seriously.

5. Stand Your Ground

When diplomacy fails, you may decide to contact the authorities about the problem animal. You and your pets have the right to walk into your yard without being afraid, and sadly some people do not respond well to diplomacy.

It is unfortunate that some people do not care about their pets’ bad behavior — or worse, encourage it. Contact your local Animal Control officer to discuss your options.

It is a sticky situation when your neighbor has an aggressive animal. Dogs can behave aggressively for so many reasons that it is hard to pin down exactly what is going on. It could be past or present abuse, a puppy phase, a medical condition or simply someone who is woefully uneducated about his dog’s breed.

In the end, we all just want to sit peacefully on our patio with our dogs.


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