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Reactivity to new neighbors.

3678 Views 20 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Laco
Hi everyone! I joined this forum a year ago when we first adopted our rescue dog (lab/hound mix), Kinzie. She came to us very anxious, nervous and reactive to other dogs and people. As I mentioned in previous posts, it was completely overwhelming at first and I wasn't sure I could do it. A year's worth of patience, consistency and love has paid off as she is much more calm and obedient now. We still have issues with reactivity, but much improved. She can ignore other neighborhood dogs now and is only reactive maybe 30% of the time (versus 100% before!)

That was, until last week when new neighbors moved in. Our old neighbor was a single guy who was super quiet. The new ones are a family with three young (noisy!) kids. Now her reactivity is almost like it was a year ago. She is on high alert in the backyard, barks loudly whenever they talk or move in their backyard. To make matters worse, one of the kids likes to yell back at Kinzie when she barks and will mock howl or yell back to her...which makes her bark MORE! I spoke to the family and let them know she is reactive and it will calm down in time, but to not yell back at her. The parents seemed so understanding and were really nice, but the kid still does it.

Im just frustrated. It feels like Im back at square one. I need some words of wisdom!
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Of course I don't expect my neighbors to be silent and change their behaviours for my dog. That is not what I'm saying. My point is 2 things:
1. Their child is purposely teasing my dog,
2. My dog is reactive and these new noises are now a new obstacle to overcome...I'm seeking advice about that.
Okay lets get some things straight:

1. Our dog is not left outdoors alone, ever. My husband and I are outside with her whenever she is out because we have been actively working on training her and her reactivity. A child ending up in our yard alone with the dog, would never happen.

2. When our dog begins to bark, she is brought indoors right away. We do not let her bark her head off for an extended period of time because we are quite aware that noisy dogs are annoying for neighbors and I respect that.

3. I understand kids are noisy and I would never expect them to be silent in their own yard.

4. Working with a reactive dog is different then a "regular" dog.

5. Of course my dog barking the neighbors is a "problem"...that is why I came on here to seek advice.

6. I agree socialization is key here. Our dog came to us as a rescue at 1 years old and was clearly not socialized in her past life. This is a work in progress. I am also careful not to put through her into situations that would spike her reactivity (which is fear based). Meeting the neighbors may be step taken with careful consideration.

7. New neighbors seemed very understanding of dog barking and where I am coming from- they have not expressed any frustration towards me. I have heard them tell their son to stop barking/yelling at my dog countless times...the child still does not stop.
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"I find it interesting that people give the dog a pass."

Giving my dog a pass? That is absolutely the opposite of what I am doing. I came on here seeking advice on how to deal with/train MY DOG to ignore this new distraction in her life. Reactivity isn't a simple behavioural problem to deal with. I didn't come on here seeking advice on how to quiet my neighbor.
I think those that have done more training will likely give good info for your dog, I have a suggestion, though. How long is the fence between your yard and theirs, and would it be in the budget to get some of that inexpensive roll up bamboo type fence just to give a bit of help? I realize that both child and dog could still hear each other. Maybe a radio played and vision blocked with bamboo might help just until other more time consuming solutions are put into effect?
I like the radio idea- I think I will suggest that to my husband to try. At least drown out some stimuli to help her adjust.

Between our fences there is a foot gap actually. Their fence is separate from ours so Kinzie can't actually see the kids/'s all about her hearing them and being fearful of the new voices. This is where I do see a previous person's suggestion about socializing valid, however she is also reactive to men as she was abused in her past so I'm not ready to introduce them yet. I want to get her back to being comfortable in her own yard first.

Thanks for the suggestions!
When my husband and I are in the backyard, she will still react to unfamiliar noises/voices but she will usually respond to my husbands discipline/direction right away and will come indoors. She definitely sees my husband as the Alpha in the pack. She will listen to me as well, but sometimes she gets a bit more defiant.

She doesn't lunge at the fence- just barks/howls and runs around the yard. She did this when we first got her when she first heard our neighbors dogs (beside and behind us) and with time has come to accept them and no longer barks at them. Like I said earlier, I would never expect people/kids to be silent in their own backyards...but when dealing with a reactive dog patience and understanding from neighbors goes a long way!

So, I apologize if I'm coming off wrong.

I urge you first of all to read the Dog owners liability act, use it as a guideline to take preventive measures. Ontario has basically gone off the deep end when it comes to dogs - and pretty much full liability is now on the owner of a dog. It doesn't always take a bite. Seems like aggression is construed in most matters - doesn't seem like much is taken into account for a dog if it's fearful, reactive, unsure, whatever.

If it's just your husband and the dog in the back yard, does the dog act differently?
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