I live in a typical suburban homeowners' association with lovely homes and nice yards. My next door neighbor is an elderly widow who owns several dogs. While the dogs are friendly and cute, they do have one trait that makes them not very neighborly; they bark incessantly from morning to night. Normally this is not an issue as I am out of the house at work, social events, etc. However, during the times I do find myself home and wanting to either lounge at my pool or out in my yard, the racket becomes an issue.
Our HOA governing documents contain the typical language regarding nuisance. I was quite confident that my neighbors' barking dogs were a nuisance; the question then became what to do about it?
I toyed with the idea of mentioning it at our next board meeting but then remembered some of the complaints that came my way when I served on the board and my first question on most of them was: "did you speak to your neighbor about this problem yet?". Why do people shy away from this kind of interaction? Fear of conflict or violence or is it just the fact that it is often seen as being easier to task the board with solving these issues?
What were the typical complaints? Parking on a neighbor's swale or blocking access to their driveway, excessive partying by a neighbors' teenage children, dog poop and more. While the board could have addressed all of these issues, whatever happened to a neighbor discussing these issues in a non-confrontational way in an effort to resolve the matter? I do not naively believe that every such conversation will yield a successful result but certainly the starting point for a resolution is to find out if the behavior is deliberate and repetitive or unintentional and an anomaly.
I mustered up the courage to discuss the matter with my neighbor. I wish I could say it was an easy or even comfortable conversation as it was neither. She told me matter-of-factly that dogs bark but had no real solution to the non-stop barking. I made several suggestions and was not sure any of them would be adopted. However, the problem did resolve itself over the following weeks. Perhaps my neighbor took the dogs inside, got them trained or I just got lucky. In any event, I saved some time that the board could spend on more worthwhile pursuits by resolving the issue on my own.