When your neighbors are afraid of your dog, it can make everything from taking a walk around the block to running into them at the supermarket an uncomfortable experience. In some cases, it can lead to action taken through a Homeowners Association, or even animal control.
Taking steps to make your neighbors at ease is important. A change may not happen overnight, but often people are more understanding if they feel that you hear their concerns and are working to address them.
The first step is to find out what specific behaviors frighten your neighbor. In some cases, it may be fairly obvious, but you may also learn that your dog is engaging in behavior you didn’t know about like charging the fence, or growling at passersby from a window.
Don’t get defensive. This is a fact-finding mission, not a chance for you to explain or justify your dog’s behavior. Instead, focus on learning as much as you can, and apologize for the trouble.
Some people simply are scared of dogs or don’t like them. Even if your dog is well-behaved, just the fact that he’s a dog may be enough to turn them off. This may be hard to understand, but think of something that scares you and imagine someone trying to get you to like it.
Hopefully you’re already working on your dog’s issues, but now that you know which behaviors are the most problematic, you can focus on them specifically. Work with family members and other people who are comfortable with your dog to correct the behavior, or hire a trainer to work with you.
Invite the neighbor to approach
This is a step that you should only take when you are 100% confident in your dog’s successful rehabilitation. If you’re nervous, your dog will pick up on that energy, causing the behavior to return, which will just make the situation worse. Also, be sure to give your dog a nice long walk first. With less pent-up energy, your dog will be less threatening, and even more likely to behave.
Set up a meeting
Sometimes getting to know your dog can make a big difference, especially if your dog engages in behaviors on the walk that she doesn’t at home. Meeting in more relaxed circumstances can help both your dog and neighbor to let their guard down when out and about in the neighborhood.
Set doggy playdates
If the problem is your dog’s behavior with other dogs, then let him meet these other pups on neutral territory. Even if you can’t get your neighbor to agree to playdates with her dog, spend time in dog parks and other dog-friendly areas. The more your dog is around other dogs, the more likely he is to be relaxed when encountering them in your neighborhood. Also make sure to provide your dog with consistent socialization training.