EDITOR'S NOTE: This week we offer the occasional installment of 20-40-60 Etiquette Extra: The Men Answer, in which a panel of men, selected based on their willingness to contribute to 20-40-60 etiquette, answer a question about a neighbor's barking dogs.
QUESTION: My new neighbors recently moved in. When we met them they said they had dogs and to let them know if their barking bothered us. A year has gone by and the dogs have continued to bark loudly. It has not bothered me, but it is really starting to bug my husband. Should I say something now, or is it too late to bring the subject up?
NICK TANKERSLEY, 30s, Web Editor, NewsOK: I am able to answer this question from the perspective of someone who owns a dog that barks — a lot. Since your neighbors have said that if the dog barking becomes a nuisance you should let them know, then you should let them know. If they didn't care whether or not their dog drove you slowly insane then they wouldn't have been so straightforward about you talking to them. I'd wager that calmly explaining that the barking has been excessive lately won't cause any ruffles in your relationship and will yield some sort of resolution that will be to your satisfaction.
With that in mind, it's also important to realize that there's not much someone can do when they have an obnoxious outside dog. Mine is a delight inside, calm and quiet. The minute she gets outside her brain melts into a frenzy of yapping. It's reasonable that your neighbors will regulate when the dog is outside. We don't let ours outside for extended periods late at night or early in the morning unless we are out there with them. During the day if we're home we attempt to calm the barking down while she's outside. We have a low percentage of success but it does work sometimes. I urge you to see if your neighbors are making an effort before going back with another complaint, if necessary. Check to see if the dog is out less often and/or for shorter durations of time. Listen for their voice to come echoing over the fence with a “will you shut up, already?” I tend to lace mine with a few more profanities because it's a dog and doesn't know the difference.
Outside of strapping a box to the dog's throat that shocks them each time they bark (doesn't sound very pleasant, does it?) minimizing their time outside may be the only option.
FORD SANGER, 30s, local businessman: Your neighbors knew this would be an issue or they would not have mentioned it when they moved next to you. I would take them up on their original offer and discuss the situation.