07 May
My Neighbors Have Gone to the Dogs

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My neighbors have three large (100 lbs) dogs that constantly run and jump on our shared fence when we go outside. This incessant jumping is tearing our old, rotting fence apart and I am terrified that one of the dogs (or the whole pack) is going to come into our yard and attack someone. I have talked to our neighbor about splitting the cost of a new fence (though we do not have any animals) and she agreed but now alternates between avoiding us or telling us she needs another month or so.

I recently noticed ANOTHER dog has been added to her pack. How do I get my neighbor to be responsible for her pets and other people’s safety without shelling out for the fence myself?

Also, I talked to our Home Owner’s Association and they said our best bet is to call Animal Control – but the dogs haven’t broken through the fence YET. Do I have to wait until they do so to take some action?


Sick of the Doggone Neighbors


Dear Sick of the Doggone Neighbors,

I thought there was an adage that went something like, “If you want something to get done, do it yourself,” but Google didn’t seem to think so. Maybe I just made it up. Or maybe that’s just what my husband says to me when I hand him his Honey Do list.

Regardless, I think the answer here is pretty clear: fix the damn fence yourself. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to go out there with hammers and nails, but you should hire someone, bribe someone, or otherwise make this magic happen. If your neighbor is giving you the runaround, he or she either really doesn’t have the money or otherwise does not think of the fence as a priority. The fact that it is YOUR top priority will not change your neighbor’s mind. I don’t know if there is a legal route for you to take, but even if there were, the process would be lengthier and more costly than a fence, I’d wager.

The alternative is to continue this game of doggie roulette every time you and your family are in the backyard, and that sounds about as fun as playing hide-and-seek with some grizzly bears. And if you need visual encouragement, just imagine what would have happened here if THIS fence were not properly tended to:


Good luck,

Kristine, TMH


11 Responses to “My Neighbors Have Gone to the Dogs”


Comment by Desperate Dietwives.

I’m afraid I only partly agree with Kristine; I’d say you call some professional and ask him to estimate the new fence cost.
Then you go to your neighbours, show them the estimate, ask if it’s all right for them (if it isn’t ask them to bring you their own expert’s estimate within… and here you give them a reasonable date) and proceed with fixing the fence.
In the agreement to the expert you say that the invoice is to be split in two, one for you and one for the neighbours.

Tell your neighbours that if they don’t give you their answer within a certain date, you’ll proceed as agreed before.

Better still, after you’ve agreed to all this verbally, make a written statement and have your neighbour sign it.
If they have money to buy and keep an extra dog, they sure have the money to fix the fence.

Good luck! 🙂

Kristine Reply:

Do you think the contractor would agree to get in the middle of that? I think she’d end up paying for all of it in the end. (Speaking from personal experience. Ahem.)

Danielle Reply:

I agree. Contractor is going to say thanks but no thanks on that idea.


Comment by hangmansear.

I’m not sure where you live but here in Ohio, whoever’s property the fence is on would “own” the fence. If this fence was on my property I would just have that segment of it taken down and then BOOM all of a sudden it’s all HER problem. She won’t be able to let her dog’s out until she puts up her own fence. See how fast she will be on your porch with her half of the money then.
(Warning, it may damage your relationship to do this. But there would be no way I’d be coming up with the full amount of money to cover a fence that her dogs were just going to damage.)

Bean Reply:

And where I live, the person with the animals is responsible for the fence. If both people have animals, the cost is split.

In short, it’s worth looking up local laws about fences.


Comment by SEC.

Replacing the fence doesn’t solve the problem.

Isn’t it annoying for them to be clamoring the entire time you are in your yard?

I’d call my neighbor and ask her to put the dogs up while you are in the back yard, “because you are afraid of the dogs might get hurt on the fence.”

I have 9 dogs. I have to either put them up OR be available to correct their behavior (barking, spazzing, fence-running, etc.) when I am in my own backyard.

If the dog owner/s cannot or will not attend this situation, THEN call animal control.

Just focus on the health and treatment of the animals. They are really innocent, having never been taught correct behavior.

One other thing you might try is to compensate for the owner’s lack of education in dog discipline. Get a bag of treats yourself (or cheese, meat, cereal) and tell the dogs firmly, “Quiet….sit.” When they are quiet for a moment, reward them with the treat. Eventually they may come to the fence and sit. (And you should reward them for that!)


Comment by thepsychobabble.

You could check w.your city/town’s bylaws, too. Some have restrictions on the number of pets that can be in one home.

Big ol' B with a capital B Reply:

Yes, absolutely this! If you don’t like your neighbor you can tell them flat out that you plan on looking into these ordinances and you’ll do whatever it takes for this situation to get fixed (after looking into them and seeing they are in the wrong–don’t threaten unless you actually HAVE something on them) and I bet they will sit up, shut up and shell out the money to avoid getting in trouble with the law/animal control.


Comment by N and Em's mom.

As the owner of a well-behaved 95lb doberman and an out-of-control 5 lb maltese, I agree with most of the advice above. Also, document, document, document- take pictures and video of the fence and the dogs jumping. It occured to me that you could call your insurance agent to talk about options but that might come back to bite you in the butt with higher premiums? Good luck!


Comment by Danielle.

This is why, when house shopping, we picked a nice country house with neighbors so far away we couldn’t see them. We can let our 4 100+lb dogs out without worry. Ahhh, country life!

Lisa Reply:

The video idea and training idea are particularly brilliant.

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