Tuesday, June 12, 2012

City Dog: On Dogs and Shared Wall Neighbors

 The other week we wrote about renting apartments with bigger and pitbull-type dogs, and I think the second part of this is making sure that those of us that do have larger and pitbull-type dogs in shared-wall buildings make it a positive experience for everyone to encourage landlords and condo associations to allow bigger dogs in the building. Though we're not perfect ourselves, here are some things we've noticed and are working on to make living with dogs a positive experience for everyone in the building.

Having an Awareness & Soundproofing:
We try to have an overall awareness of noises that could be loud for our neighbors. Miss M and I used to live in an apartment underneath a Cocker Spaniel, and I couldn't understand why they were always hammering things. Then I realized, it was just the little Cocker Spaniel wagging his tail. If that little tail could make that much noise, I can only imagine how loud our dogs are. We try to keep our dogs from racing down the hall, and we know there are certain toys are too loud; chewing on a huge nylabone could sound like an avalanche. We do have alot of dog-friendly rugs to help muffle the sound which we wrote about here.

Inside Barking:
When Mr. B first came to live with us, he had a bit of isolation distress. For the first few days we were afraid to leave our home, and when we had to leave we could hear him barking down the block. We know this can be very difficult, and take long term training, but we found some things that worked specifically for Mr. B. We worked with our trainer who helped us figure out some techniques. We would confuse Mr. B so he would never realize when we were leaving. We tried not to let him know our routine (putting on shoes, getting car keys) and we'd even be out of sight and open and shut the door a couple of times so he never knew if we were home or gone. If we started barking, we would say "quiet"...for some reason it worked. We also started distracting our dogs with kongs, so they'd be so busy eating the kongs they wouldn't realize we were gone. When we came home, we wouldn't greet them immediately and we'd wait 10 minutes before acknowledging him; even then we wouldn't be exciting so he wouldn't think it was a big deal.

Being Likable:
 We know that not everyone likes dogs, so we try to make sure to respect people's space. We make sure to move them to the side at doorways and on the sidewalk so people don't have to step around them. We also know it's important to be friendly and likable; people will be more forgiving. And we try to do some extra things around the building, like shoveling snow and killing weeds, to make up for instances when our pooches are a bit loud.

We are still struggling with our pooches being a bit over-excited in the morning for breakfast (remember this video?) and hoping they're not too noisy downstairs.
We are always curious about other people's experiences: what are some tips you've learned for living peacefully with your neighbors and promoting positive ideas of bigger dogs in buildings and condos?

PS. Read here for renting with pitbull-type dogs.


Taylor G said...

We have a neighbor below us who basically hates all dogs and is a "cat lady". Lucky for her she has Mugsy above her, another pitbull across from her, and two Cairn terriers below her. Believe it or not her biggest problem is te Cairn's because they are constantly barking. She has even gone so far as to call the police on them. Thankfully Mugsy isn't a barker however he does bark when he hears dogs outside barking aggressively. We will correct him right away and make him lay down until he calms down. We try to be conscience of the time and not let Mug's play with his harder toys late a night. I agree that it ultimately comes down to respect - we will respect your space and enviornment just as non dog owners should respect ours.

Angela said...

We own a two unit with a tenant upstairs. Considering that tenant pays for my rent I definitely want to keep them happy! We foster dogs which means we have a lot of noisy puppies and dogs with little or no training that come through our home. Every time we bring in a new dog that is noisy I leave a note for the neighbor, state the situation and put my contact info on there so they can let me know if they're bothersome. It does help that they like dogs, but we also go the extra mile and are mindful about making sure their sidewalk is cleared, weeds are pulled, etc. Unless the neighbor is *ahem* crotchety, I think a little respect, friendliness and mindfulness goes a long way :)

Anonymous said...

Obviously, living in New York City, we have the same exact problem. No matter where we live, we will always share a wall (or a floor/ceiling) with someone. The most important factor in keeping everyone happy is being friendly with everyone. And I don't mean the dogs being friendly, I mean the people. It is crucial that you like your neighbors and that they like you in return. Be nice. Help out around the building. Create relationships that are meaningful, despite the fact that they may not last beyond changing residences. This way, if they have a problem, they can come directly to you and not the landlord or police. Beyond that, they may even be willing to care for your dogs in extreme instances when you simply can't get home quickly enough. Apart from that, the Kong confusion trick is brilliant, but make sure they're frozen first. It takes the dogs much longer to finish so there's much more quiet time - and by the time they're done, you've been gone too long for them to remember you've left!

SherBear said...

My building's walls are like a fortress, at least compared to some other buildings in the city where you can hear your neighbor sneeze! My hall mates all love Nala and those closest to me have said how nice is it that she never barks. I always try to be a respectful dog owner - I swing wide to give other dogs space, never enter an elevator that has another large dog in it and always ask small dog owners if they are ok riding up or down with Nala. And anytime I either wait for another elevator or step to the side I am sure to do it with a smile on my face. Most people have no idea that Nala can sometimes be reactive in tight spaces and with our continual training most will never know! It also helps that Nala is constantly wagging her tail and, as I've been told many times, always looks happy. It was a little overwhelming when I first brought her into the high-rise, but now with some simple steps I feel confident that I can keep her safe and happy!

kasia077 said...

I've been blessed with very understanding neighbors. One of my recent fosters had very bad separation anxiety and he would scream (his bark sounded like he was being skinned alive) all day while I was at work. I was lucky enough to have a very understanding neighbor downstairs who would text me daily updates on how he was doing and report to me when I tried different things like moving his crate, leaving him with his thunder shirt on, etc. We eventually found a good balance but it was a tough road. I couldn't have done it without my neighbor's help.

My dog, Max, doesn't make much noise but he likes to bark out the window during the day. I find that simply talking to neighbors and asking them if they're bothered, helps. Most people seem to be more forgiving when they realize you're trying to be accommodating prior to there being an issue.

kissa-bull said...

well since our house burned we have had to live in a rented space.kind of like an apartment.we had never thought about the noise our pibbles made until now. thankfully i truly in my heart beleive my pibbles are humans as brinksey winksey and bella make no noise whatsoever. all they want to do is lay, sleep,toot, eat and play with their kongs. they are too lazy to wrestle or run around. im truly amazed and too grateful to question it lol

Rebelwerewolf said...

We're on the top floor of our apartment complex, which means... There's someone living below us. We were friends with our previous downstairs neighbors, who had a dog themselves, but they moved out at the end of last month. Now we find ourselves peering out the window to see when the next family will move in. I was thinking about introducing ourselves to them early on so they know we're not constantly jump roping or something, and so they feel comfortable coming to us if there's a problem instead of complaining to the apartment office.

Kirsten (peacefuldog) said...

These are some really good tips. I think my dogs and I would last about 10 minutes in an apartment before someone got fed up and threw us out! I guess I would work a lot harder on training some things...but Fozzie and Lamar both have particularly piercing barks!

Two French Bulldogs said...

We see sure do a lot of those same things since we live in a condo
Benny & Lily

Unknown said...

I used to live in a townhouse for a couple years. The walls were pretty solid, so I never really worried about the neighbors when I started fostering. What I did initially worry about was keeping my landlord happy.

Well, after 5 fosters (3 pit bulls, 1 lab, and 1 doberman [the lab was the whiniest one]), I definitely passed that initial worry, and the one big tip that I can give on keeping your landlord (and potential neighbors) happy is:

TEACHING YOUR DOG TO BE QUIET AND CALM IN THEIR CRATE. This is seriously what made us golden dog owners in our landlord's eyes. Every time she'd pop by, we'd crate our foster, and our landlord would go on and on about how amazed she was that they were so quiet, and how we must have been the best dog trainers ever.

It's a ridiculously simple (and rather no-brainer) thing, but even something as small as showing someone that your dog can be quiet and calm can go an exceedingly long way.

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