Ticked Off! Stopping Chronic Dog Barking – and the Price of Silence

When I was in high school, I had a classmate named Steve Kowolski who used to bug the bejesus out of me and my buddies.

Okay, to be honest, Steve’s last name wasn’t Kowolski, although he did have a last name that ended in “ski.”

Anyway, the guy was a real pest, always flapping his gums and looking for ways to get a rise out of whoever he could — but Steve’s real specialty was pointing out other people’s mistakes.

One day my buddies and I were in our drafting class, completing a tedious assignment to test our skill at drawing various polygons with the utmost precision. Kowolski finished early and, with the teacher momentarily out of the classroom, he decided do get up from his drafting table and sashay over to my friend John’s workstation so he could critique his work.

“Mr. Wood’s going to mark you down for that, Johnny,” Steve said. Naturally, at a volume loud enough for the entire class to hear.

“Mark me down for what?”

“Your lines are too messy. And look; your letters are sloppy too.”

“No, they’re not.”

“Yes. They are.”

“No. They’re not.”

To his credit, John tried to ignore Steve, but the little imp kept pushing, obnoxiously surveying John’s work more carefully than Lewis and Clark detailed the Louisiana Purchase.

“Ha! I think you’re going to get an F. See that; you drew an octagon and a heptagon — but we were asked to draw a pentagon and a hexagon!”

That’s when John looked up at Steve and calmly uttered those six little words that have since been indelibly etched into my memory: “Kowalski, why don’t you be gone.”

And with that, the whole class burst into laughter as Steve slunk back to his workstation.

Dealing with Other Annoyances (Besides Steve Kowolski)

Of course, Steve Kowolski is no longer around, but I still have nuisances to deal with. Take my neighbor’s dogs for instance — all five of them. Yes, five. I know.

Until recently, those pooches barked incessantly, whether my neighbor was home or not.

It got so bad that I couldn’t sit outside my back patio without them barking at me. They howled almost every time I tried to relax and watch a movie. And when they weren’t barking when the wind blew, they were bellowing at sunrise and baying at the moon.

Don’t get me wrong; I am a huge dog fan. I adore them. Heck, I’ve had dogs as pets my entire life. So my gripe isn’t aimed at the dogs so much as it is with irresponsible owners.

Taking Matters Into My Own Hands

I picked a bone with my neighbor, but the problem only persisted. In fact, over the past few months it got worse. That got me so hot under the collar that I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. So I shot the dogs.

Just kidding! I said I adore dogs — not abhor them — remember?

Actually, I spent $43.33 for an electronic anti-barking training aid; it’s designed to emit a high-pitched ultrasonic tone that’s inaudible to humans but startles dogs whenever they bark.

In theory, over time, my neighbors’ dogs will learn to associate their own barking with the unpleasant noise emanating from the training aid.

In essence, I’m fighting fire with fire — and so far it works like a charm. Well, at least it does most of the time.

There are occasions where one of the five dogs will get in a spot where the microphone doesn’t detect their barking. It also seems to quickly go through batteries.

Still, that’s a small price to pay for the peace and tranquility that had been sorely lacking for a long time around my neck of the woods. So, I’m a happy camper.

In fact, now that those dogs are quiet, I guess you could say I have a new leash on life.

Photo Credit: Mikhail Koninin


  1. 1

    tracee says

    that’s awesome! good to know as well. in my frustration i probably would have filed a noise complaint with the city or police department.

  2. 3


    My neighbor behind us has a lot of small, yippy dogs (I think there’s 4 but I can’t be sure). They can be pests though probably not as bad as what you had to put up. Just curious how far away the device is and how it’s secured. Our backyards are all fence free so I’d hate to have the neighbor catch on and come nab it in the middle of the night (she’s kind of a b*tch that way)

    • 4

      Len Penzo says

      It says it can reach 50 ft. on the highest setting, which is what we have it on. I suspect that is accurate. We have ours about 5 feet inside our property line. Although I am certain it wouldn’t happen, as far as I’m concerned, it would be war if my neighbor nabbed mine. After all, I’m the one shelling out my hard-earned cash and taking responsibility for their dogs!

    • 5

      Mark StartswithK says

      I have 3 acres and have 13 dogs adjacent to my property. Many times dogs are left out all day and day and, worse yet, left out while the rude neighbors aren’t even home. UGH!!!! SO Frustrating and unfair. It is generally a bad idea to talk to them about it – they will be embarrassed or angry and think you are crazy. I have tried every dog bark controller on the market (not kidding!) short of strapping zapper collars to the offending animals. I have gotten so fed up that I have finally built my own sonic blaster that is powerful and works from a distance – I added a remote so I can use it from inside my house. It is bulletproof and waterproof and it works. I am not a company, just a frustrated home owner, but it is so good I am selling them on EBay under the cute name of U-Control-It because it finally puts you in control of the problem and lets you do something about it rather than beat your head against the wall.

  3. 6

    Sue says

    Our chihuahua used to bark all time. Unlike your neighbor, I know it annoyed others. So I got a barking collar for him and that did the trick. The best part is, I rarely need to use it anymore!

  4. 8

    WindPixie says

    Our dog owning neighbors are our good friends and attend the same church we do. We had talked to them over the years about their dogs and they made intermittent effort to get them to stop parking. Finally in frustration (why should WE have to pay for something to mitigate someone else’s irresponsibility?) we bought one exactly like yours. It worked like a charm. We don’t need it now because our neighbor sold the barky dog. It does go through 9 volt batteries but is so worth it.

    • 9

      Len Penzo says

      There you have it, folks. There are two endorsements! (For the record, I am NOT being compensated for my endorsement. It is a genuine unbiased recommendation.)

  5. 10

    WindPixie says

    Oops, barking, not parking. Hey, if they were parking dogs, that would be something to see. Also, your city probably has nuisance ordinances if it came to that. However, getting cops involved escalates things to a level many are not comfortable with.

    • 11

      Len Penzo says

      I was going to correct “parking” to “barking” in your previous comment, but I laughed when I read your follow-up — so now it’s staying the way it is.

  6. 12

    DC says

    We have cats, and fortunately the dogs in our neighborhood are already well mannered.

    If you train your dogs to not bark, does that mean you have “neutered” the doggy alarm if someone breaks into your house?

    I’ve heard small yippy dogs make the best “alarm” because they will simply not shut up if there’s a stranger in the house. Big dogs are a mixed bag. Some will be silent but deadly; others will point the way to the family silver. :)

  7. 14


    That’s pretty awesome… my coworker lives next to an annoying dog, but it is like 2 yards over. Even with California yards it is more than 50 feet, so we discussed getting one of those devices and trying to increase the range, haha!

    We have a dog next to us that barks at rodents, and he does do it at night. Since we got our dog, the neighbor’s dog has been much more quiet – unless they are both at the fence trying to meet each other, haha.

    • 15

      Len Penzo says

      You’ve definitely got the skills to do it, Paul. I haven’t looked at the circuit, but I bet it can be done by just using a lower value resistor or two to increase the gain.

  8. 16

    Brian says

    I’m sort of in agreement with DC. Just to play devil’s advocate, have you considered that you might have ruined your neightbors alarm system by silencing their dogs? What if your neighbor is unaware what you’ve been up to and is relying on something that isn’t there anymore? :)

    • 17

      Len Penzo says

      If the dogs were being used as an “alarm system,” they should be in the house. Besides, how good is an alarm system that is constantly putting out false alarms? :-)

  9. 18

    David says

    “…I guess you can say I have a new leash on life.”

    The neighbors’ barking dogs are worth it if only to be able to use the phrase “I have a new leash on life” in actual context. I bet you were proud of that one!

    • 19

      Len Penzo says

      Ha ha! That was a good one, wasn’t it? Puns: you either love ’em or hate ’em. Of course, I love ’em.

      I know it’s bad form to call them all out, but I threw in a few other poochie puns in that piece — plus a subtle one in the title too. 😉

      • 20

        DC says

        What, the “ticked off” part? Bet you were just itching for someone to notice. Scratch beneath the surface of a clever headline, and you’ll find a puntificator. I love puns to, but doggone if I’m running out of howlers.

        Besides puns, it’s always fun to think up a clever headline. Back when my son was in elementary school, I was editor for the PTA newsletter one year. The principal had his regular column, and teachers would submit “inspirational” articles admonishing the parents/kids to do this or that. Pretty boring stuff actually — it all had to be politically correct.

        I got to make up the headlines, and had this ready to go if anyone ever submitted an article on the need to communicate clearly: Eschew Obfuscation

        Sadly, I never got to use it. :(

        • 21

          Len Penzo says

          LOL! I’m glad to know you’re not a very Sirius fellow, DC.

          As for “eschew obfuscation” — yep … that just about says it all!

  10. 22


    New leash on life?:) There is an annoying barking dog in our community too. At least it is not next door. There are always annoyances and distractions in life, stay focused on what is important and it won’t bother you!

    • 27

      Len Penzo says

      That was great, Brian! Then again, the engineer in me eats that stuff up. Warning, folks: It’s an hour-long show, and it does get a bit technical at times — but not overly so.

      If you have the time, it’s a very entertaining first-person story of a nerdy but very industrious kid who, many years ago, built a “Portable Dog Killer” device from a bunch of spare parts he found lying around. There is even a moral at the end for our video-game-playing kids of today. (Of course, they’re going to have to have the attention span to get there.)

  11. 28


    You guys don’t encourage Len, he will just get the big head…

    I hope you don’t need to worry about flies with 5 dogs next door.

    Be careful with braggin’ about the device, you may find the Honeybee has placed it in a strategic position directed at a certain engineer…
    Speaking of howling at the moon.

    • 31

      Len Penzo says

      I wouldn’t be surprised, Marie. It’s hard to claim originality when using puns; I suspect most every one has already been uttered by somebody somewhere, with minor variations here and there — especially the really good ones. The key is knowing when to apply them for maximum effect. 😉

  12. 32


    Congratulations on your success with that sneaky birdhouse, Len!

    I’m still looking for a higher-octane solution for my own yard – I’ve got five back yard neighbors, each with yappy dogs, and I tried the same birdhouse – the range is too small. I need an array of ultrasonic megaphones, on on each of my fence posts around the yard perimeter.

    In the past, I’ve also had good luck by calling the animal control department – they deliver a polite and anonymous warning to your neighbors, and they seem to take it seriously. I just haven’t had the heart to do it to my five current neighbors, since they are mostly nice people.

    • 33

      Len Penzo says

      Thank you, M-cubed. I’m sorry to hear the birdhouse hasn’t worked for you. I suspect the circuit can be modified though to be more powerful, if you’re handy that way. Then again, it would probably go through batteries even faster.

      Animal control may be the next step, assuming this solution suddenly stops working. I know I said calling the authorities should always be a last resort, but I’m not sure where else to go after spending my own money to solve this amicably.

  13. 34


    I forwarded this post to my wife because she is constantly annoyed by our neighbors barking dogs. She became “Ticked Off!” at you! She was trying to read the post on her Blackberry and your e-mail subscription pop-up kept interrupting. Now she’s ticked off at the neighbors dogs and you!

    Great suggestion though. I relayed the rest of the info in your post to her and told her your results. We may be purchasing a device soon.

    • 35

      Len Penzo says

      LOL! Oops.

      Matt, tell your wife I’m very sorry about the e-mail subscription pop-up; that must be a problem related to the Blackberry. :-)

      I hope she’ll forgive me after your barking dog problem is solved.

      (Although if you buy that device and it doesn’t work, I’m sure I’ll be in even deeper doo doo!)

  14. 37

    Me says

    I have 3 dogs of my own that are mainly ‘inside’ dogs BUT these PITA’s (pain in the a**’s) next door are barking constanstly driving us up the wall. SO, if I use your device how am I to keep that from affecting my dogs? Ours will come in when called while the PITA’s are going off, so will it bother mine??

    • 38

      Len Penzo says

      I’m in the same boat. My dogs are mainly inside dogs too, but they go outside to use the potty; they like to sun themselves sometimes too.

      Anyway, to answer your question: The device is directional. That is, the sound travels in a cone-shaped area that emanates away from the transmitter. If you point it toward a neighbor’s property, from the edge of your yard, your pups will not be affected.

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