Gee, thanks for the advice.

February 20th, 2013 · 66 comments

Steve in Los Angeles says his dog has been having some separation anxiety, typically crying for about 30 minutes to an hour after Steve leaves for work. He recently found this oh-so-helpful advice taped to his front door. (His response: “WTF?!”)

Hello, I'm not sure if you're aware but your dog barks almost non stop when you're gone. He seems very unhappy. I had a similar problem but finally worked it out. Good luck.

Steve, just to put things in perspective, you might want to take a look at the Chicago approach:

To the inconsiderate asshole on the third floor who's dog won't shut the fuck up. If you don't start closing your window, the dog is gonna take a bullet. You've been warned.

related: My bite is work than your bark

FILED UNDER: "helpful" advice · Chicago · dogs · Los Angeles · neighbors · noise · warning

66 responses so far ↓

  • #1   at2002

    It’s sweet, or a little creepy, can’t decide which, that the neighbor used to cry every time Steve left. I guess she’s over him now.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm   rating: 91  small thumbs up

  • #2   dd

    This doesn’t seem ugly. It is conceivable that someone wouldn’t know their dog barks when they’re gone. They aren’t there to hear it, after all.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.1   jdaniel

      Except that Steve states the dog barks for 30-60 minutes after he leaves. Maybe Steve has a webcam on the dog.

      Feb 20, 2013 at 3:33 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.2   matt w.

      i thought that was odd. i guess he might be getting that knowledge from a different neighbor.

      Feb 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #2.3   Ely North

      If a dog barks in an empty apartment and the owner’s not around to hear it, does it make a sound?

      Feb 20, 2013 at 10:02 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #3   Joanne M.

    P.S. – Would you like a sample of my delicious stew? The meat is like nothing you’ve ever had before, but I can teach you all my secrets.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #4   jdaniel

    Well thank you for passing along what finally worked for you. Since I have to work for a living, and you seem to be around, how about working your magic with my hound.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.1   timimus

      I assume that the note writer knows that each dog and situation is unique, that what worked for them may well not work for Steve, and that unsolicited, well-intentioned advice can be quite annoying. (Ask a woman who’s been pregnant for confirmation of this.)

      This note is a friendly heads-up to Steve from a neighbour. Nothing to see here. Move on.

      Feb 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #4.2   Roto13

      I had to read that again to see if it was supposed to rhyme or not.

      Feb 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #5   matt w.

    seems rather unfair to criticize this note. writer doesn’t seem angry, note isn’t funny or unreasonable. why is this even here?

    Feb 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm   rating: 91  small thumbs up

  • #6   amanda

    Probably because of the super helpful advice part of the note.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #7   Steph

    Poor dog. DON’T get a dog if you have to leave your dog at home alone while working.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.1   citydog

      Nah. Most dogs can do just fine as long as their humans make an effort to meet their needs (sufficient mental and physical stimulation before and after work, perhaps a dog-walker in the middle of the day, dealing with any issues that arise, etc.), but they *have* to do it.

      Feb 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.2   NoAdditives

      Yeah, and people shouldn’t have kids if they can’t be home to raise them too. Right?

      Feb 20, 2013 at 4:48 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.3   Red Delicious

      Because it’s easier to just drop your kids off at some hell-hole day care and let someone else ignore them. Nice logic.

      Feb 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.4   pooham

      I crate trained my kids. I also made them do chores before I went to work so they wouldn’t be restless throughout the day.

      Feb 20, 2013 at 6:21 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.5   a-Arialist

      I think this depends on how long you’re out of the house each day. If you live near work, and can maybe pop back and take the dog out for 20 mins at lunch time, no worries.

      On the other hand, I’d never have a dog – I’m out from 7am to 7pm at work, and that’s far too long to leave a dog on its own.

      Feb 21, 2013 at 2:51 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.6   Nomnom

      Ok it is that EXACT attitude that’s making some shelters complete snobs about adopting out dogs that needs homes. It’s like you have to be unemployed AND own a home with a FENCED yard to be a worthy “pet parent”. Well how exactly do you expect people to be able to afford a dog and the requisite living conditions if they can’t go to work. RIDICULOUS. Many dogs do absolutely fine being left alone all day, and many dogs that aren’t small also do well in apartment & other situations that don’t have a fenced yard attached.

      The first note wasn’t passive aggressive at all. It was informative. There is no way for them to know if the dog has separation anxiety and barks the whole time they’re gone, or is just barking when they get home unless someone tells them.

      Feb 21, 2013 at 8:50 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.7   Kimberly

      One of my neighbors must have a service that takes care of their dog each day because I always see a car with the label “The Tail Wagon” dropping their dog off at the end of every day. It makes me laugh every time I see it.

      Feb 22, 2013 at 2:44 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.8   shepd

      There’s nothing wrong with owning a dog and working.

      However, there is something wrong with owning a dog that disturbs others needlessly and relentlessly.

      As I’ve said here before, unless you live in appropriate circumstances, don’t own a dog. My mother in law is greeted to 2 hours of dog barking at 7 am every day by the apartment below her. For the past 2 years. Keeps happening even after he’s been requested to do something about it. Personally, I’d have just jimmied open the door and let him roam outside and called the dog catchers by now, but that’s because I have low moral standards…

      However, in *this* circumstance, I don’t think the dog is being annoying, it’s just a neighbour who wants to make sure the dog isn’t unhappy. The note is quite touching, really.

      Feb 23, 2013 at 11:10 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.9   Steph


      Exactly. You don’t leave your kid at home alone all day. It’s the same thing for a dog. Dogs are not objects, they need (as humans) stimulation and interaction. They are social animals! Barking or chewing furniture are typical signs that dogs are bored and distressed of being kept for hours in boredom. The idea that a dog would just chill and sleep for 8 hours while the owner is out is a common misconception. And it’s easy to guess why so many people don’t see the harm in doing so: it s just much easier for the owner to think that the dog is happy.

      Feb 23, 2013 at 11:52 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #7.10   Clumber

      /8^P-,”,’ PZZZZZZZZZT!

      Besides, our bark when we are home. Sleep when we’re not. ’tis their routine.

      (hardly ever bark, actually. Just find the whole judgmental “well you shouldn’t have a dog if you do something I don’t like!” piss-off-able.

      Feb 25, 2013 at 12:59 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #8   matt w.

    well i guess i just took that as a show of support and solidarity without presuming to offer unsolicited advice. besides, if the writer HAD offered advice they’d be assuming that what worked in their situation would work for the note receiver. looks like a catch 22; either way, unremarkable note ends up on the site.

    i’m guessing it’s just a slow day for passive aggressive notes.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #9   Monster's Mom

    Doesn’t look like there’s any sort of advice in the note, let alone helpful advice. But I’m not sure that this note has enough aggressive to even balance out the passive. Where’s the snark? Where’s the acerbic wit? Where’s the beef?

    Feb 20, 2013 at 3:47 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #9.1   Sir Puke

      Well, they all can’t be P&A gold.
      Everyone has an off day.

      Feb 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #10   kim

    How does Steve know how long the dog barks?!

    Feb 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #11   citydog

    Too many people *don’t* know that their dog barks/whines/howls when they are gone until after the neighbors can’t stand it anymore and call Animal Control or complain to the landlord. I think the neighbor was being helpful and encouraging.

    While separation anxiety in dogs is pretty darn treatable (I say this as a trainer for 20+ years), the protocol is a bit much to dash off in a note. Once aware of the issue, it’s the responsibility of the dog’s owner to do a little research on how to effectively and humanely help the dog and stop the barking–blindly taking advice from anonymous notes probably wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do anyway.

    In case anyone is interested, Patricia McConnell’s short book “I’ll Be Home Soon–How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety” is a great resource, as is Nicole Wilde’s “Don’t Leave Me! Step-by-step Help for Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety.”

    Feb 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #11.1   Monster's Mom

      The McConnell book is the best for that, I totally agree. On the days that Monster stays home, he gets a couple of chewy-thingies, some soothing aromatherapy, and his soothing doggy music on the stereo. His hissy fits are no more. If this Steve were my neighbor, I would have offered some actual advice, instead of just giving him the fyi. Dog folks hafta stick together. Or something.

      Feb 20, 2013 at 5:06 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #12   jiloca

    Team note writer. It is proper of them to let the dog owner know of the noise that the dog is making while he is out, so that he is aware of the noise problem it causes for his neighbors. Owning a dog comes with a slew of responsibilities, one of them is making sure your pet is not a nuisance, whether you are there or not.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #13   Olivia

    I’m with the note-writer, though they could have been a little more helpful!
    I’ve left a note for the owners of a barking dog before. It actually fixed the problem. Their dog was bored. They didn’t know. They were grateful that someone had bothered to tell them. Guess what? The dog doesn’t bark anymore.
    If a dog owner has a barking dog, they ought to damn well fix the problem. Sometimes a bit of self-reflection goes a long way.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 4:08 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #13.1   a-Arialist

      Exactly. Most dog owners care about their animals, and would be upset to know that their dog is lonely without them, and happy someone told them so they could do something about it.

      I know I would be.

      Feb 21, 2013 at 2:57 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #14   Rodalpho

    That note is a polite first step to give the person the opportunity to address the problem before they call the landlord or animal control.

    I assure you the dog barking is driving that neighbor absolutely crazy.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 4:15 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #15   courtney bang

    I’m with the note-writer who was very nice about it. Even if it really is just 30-60 minutes, that is plenty of time to wake up neighbors or just drive them crazy.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 4:48 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #16   Mothers little helper

    Nothing wrong with that note.
    I had two dogs I left in the big fenced backyard during the day when I was at work.
    None of my neighbors liked me and I didn’t know why.
    Finally, one day one of the little kids came up and said his mommy wanted to know why let my dogs out all day. Turns out they had dug a hole under the fence and waited until I left for work and then ran around the neighborhood all day and only came back in right before came home! I had no idea!

    Feb 20, 2013 at 5:13 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #16.1   pan

      They must have hidden the hole under a bush, too.

      Feb 21, 2013 at 10:13 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #16.2   courtney bang

      We had an escaping dog, possibly for years since it was at night! She went to swim in a nearby creek and we had no idea until she started getting brave and staying longer. She would still be wet in the morning and we couldn’t figure out how. Finally she started tiring herself out, so she couldn’t climb the fence again, and we’d wake up to her sleeping on the front porch.

      Feb 21, 2013 at 10:39 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #17   jabashque

    The alt-text for the first images says, “I’m not sure if you’re awesome but your dog . . .” when it should be “I’m not sure if you’re aware but your dog . . .”

    Feb 20, 2013 at 7:02 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #18   Jessi

    I know I would sure appreciate a note like this if my dogs were being obnoxious. When I lived in a second story apartment, I wouldn’t even let the two of the run and play in the house, because I didn’t want to disturb my downstairs neighbors. Thank goodness for off-leash dog parks and a Chuck-it!

    Feb 20, 2013 at 10:37 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #19   Erika

    Is no one realizing the first note is just there to provide contrast for the second note?

    Feb 20, 2013 at 11:34 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #19.1   timimus

      The second note was added to this thread some hours after the first was posted.

      Feb 21, 2013 at 5:03 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #19.2   Lil'

      Those wondering about the first note are wondering why the submitter felt it warranted a post on PAN. It was just a friendly FYI.

      Feb 22, 2013 at 6:55 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #19.3   Vulpis

      I don’t know if you’re aware, but the first note is lacking PAN all day… ;-)

      Feb 26, 2013 at 5:34 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #20   VM

    I read that bit about having had a similar problem as a signal that the neighbor understands what Steve’s going through and is willing to be patient, knowing it might take time before he “finally” solves HIS specific situation. It should reassure him that this is just an FYI, not a warning shot before authorities are called in. Frankly, I can’t think of a nicer note to receive in the situation. Better than a know-it-all screed lecturing you how to handle a dog that the notewriter isn’t really familiar with.

    Feb 20, 2013 at 11:47 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #21   Daithi

    It’s ‘separation distress’ not ‘separation anxiety.’ The majority of dog owners do not know that their dog is experiencing this distress, or do not know the extent to which the dog experiences the distress (Bradshaw, In Defence of Dogs). Letting someone know that their dog is distressed, and leaving a comment that tries to reduce any kind of blame or barriers to conversation is not a passive aggressive note. If Steve cannot socialise or care for his dog properly, so that it is not distressed, he should not own a dog.

    Feb 21, 2013 at 1:26 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #21.1   Nomnom

      You note the distinction between anxiety and distress but you failed to detail why that distinction is important. Until then I will continue to call it separation anxiety.

      Feb 21, 2013 at 8:52 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #21.2   Lizzy500 bang

      Maybe it’s a US/British distinction. I just sat through a lecture titled “Separation ANXIETY” at a continuing-ed weekend. I’m a vet tech and I’ve never heard it called “separation distress”.

      Feb 21, 2013 at 8:45 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #22   wyncote100

    An hour of barking can seem like an eternity to an innocent listener! I don’t see anything wrong with this mild note.

    Feb 21, 2013 at 7:05 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #23   misspiggy

    Nice that Steve decides to send this note to PAN rather than doing something about his dog’s (and the neighbourhood’s) distress. Nice that he knew about the problem earlier but had apparently thought it would take care of itself.

    Gives me a bout of extreme dog related jealousy. I don’t own one because my lifestyle wouldn’t work for a dog; but my commitments would mean much less disruption than leaving the poor beast all alone in the house every day. Bad Steve.

    Feb 21, 2013 at 7:14 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #24   redheadwglasses

    If the dog’s on the third floor, how will you shoot it? Rent a space on the building across the street? Shoot it through the door like the South African athlete shot his girlfriend?

    Feb 21, 2013 at 12:10 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #24.1   Lil'


      Feb 22, 2013 at 7:00 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #25   pooham

  • #26   Brian

    While I personally would have preferred to have the letter writer knock on my door, there’s nothing wrong with the first note.

    I cured my dog’s (milder) separation anxiety simply by getting a second dog. I also utilize a web cam and speakers to check in on them.

    That said, my wife and I work alternating schedules, so the dogs are alone for no more than 45 minutes at a stretch, (unless there’s errands to attend to etc.) I think the longest they’ve ever been left at home alone was 6 or 7 hours when we went to a wedding.

    Feb 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #27   Brian H

    It also goes to the point that many dog breeds are not suited to apartment living nor being left alone. A little studying up before getting a dog can be very helpful.

    It’s totally incumbent on him to rectify the situation post-haste. Why should his neighbors be forced to put up with it?

    Feb 21, 2013 at 10:13 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #28   Raichu

    Wow, that second one is disgusting. Threatening to kill someone’s animal? Not okay.

    The first one I didn’t have a problem with. They sounded like they were being reasonable and just trying to inform him.

    Feb 22, 2013 at 10:11 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #29   KarateLady

    In our case, the neighbor put ‘em in the backyard every night and they barked & barked. After a week or two, a neighbor contacted Animal Control & was told they needed incidents on file, etc. , so they went around & gave the offender’s address & the city # to call & make a report. But a few weeks after that, someone snuck into or aimed over the fence from their own yard & shot the dog(s) 2-3x. I don’t remember if the dog(s) lived but I do remember bring questioned by police because a smidgen of our fence bordered their backyard. Case was never solved and no dogs in the backyard after that.

    Feb 22, 2013 at 10:36 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #29.1   shepd

      That’s horrible! There’s a neighbour in my area that doesn’t like that some of the people here let their cats roam (I have to agree with him on that–keep your pets off my property–my cat doesn’t like your cat anyways). But instead of being reasonable about it, he puts out rat poison as if it’s cat food. Which means that if our cat escapes for even a minute (nobody’s perfect) I have to shit bricks until I find him.

      Feb 23, 2013 at 11:18 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #30   Grumpy

    Shockingly, dogs bark. Guess some people haven’t realized that’s what they naturally do.

    If someone ever threatened my dog in the manner of note writer #2……

    Feb 22, 2013 at 11:51 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #30.1   shepd

      Pyromaniacs naturally like to burn things. Shockingly, they’d burn down your house because that’s what they naturally do.

      Sucks we call them arsonists and send them to jail for it, I mean, it is in their nature to do so.

      Feb 23, 2013 at 11:19 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

    • #30.2   Vulpis

      Indeed…I know quite well how *both* note-writers likely feel–both due to noisy dogs *and* kids. Granted, the second note is pure agressive with no passive at all, but it is Chicago–quite possibly the *threat* ends up necessary to encourage the owner to *do something* about their problem dog. There should be plenty of warnings, first…

      Feb 26, 2013 at 5:40 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #31   ano

    The first note is just a friendly FYI? I’ve left similar notes for working neighbours because…well, if they’re not there how are they meant to know?

    I’d hope someone would leave a similar note to no#1 if my future dog barked while I wasn’t home so I’d know and could fix it.

    Feb 23, 2013 at 1:15 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #32   Esperea

    I see no problem with the first note, but the second note screams psychopath.

    People seem to think their pets are perfect and everyone should let them do “what is natural.” The same with children. I see people with their kids running around destroying stuff and when they are told they have to pay for it, they get offended.

    Same with their precious pets.

    I am okay with dogs barking occasionally, or helping a neighbor corrall their escape artist pet, but most of the time my neighbor lets her dogs bark all night long. She then claims she doesn’t hear anything because she takes sleeping pills anyways.

    My other neighbor has two toddlers and the dogs always wake her u.

    Feb 23, 2013 at 9:39 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #33   Dave

    Learn the difference between whose and who’s please, people!

    Feb 25, 2013 at 4:08 am   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #34   Erin

    Steve’s the problem, not the note-writer. I don’t think he has to do anything so drastic as to quit his job but if you know that your dog barks for 30 mins to an hour every time you leave then you need to do something about it. Period.

    5 minutes of dog barking is annoying enough. One hour is fucking unbearable, especially if you’re trying to nap, study, or do anything semi-peaceful next door.

    Feb 25, 2013 at 12:39 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #35   Brian

    As to the second note writer:

    My response would be:

    I love my dogs as if they were my children. You have threatened them with mortal harm. Should I ever see you near them, I will defend them with lethal force.

    And I’d mean it. Try to hurt my dog, and I’ll put you in the ground.

    Feb 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up

  • #36   Disco

    I’ve often wanted to leave several of my neighbors a version of the second note. Sadly, I think you might get nailed for terroristic threats. I’m not kidding.

    Mar 1, 2013 at 4:16 pm   rating: 90  small thumbs up


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