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Noisy dogs are one of the most difficult apartment living problems to solve. No one wants live alongside a dog who is always making a racket and no one wants to be that neighbour either. Part of being a good neighbour is taking steps to help minimize dog noise in an apartment. These tips can help.
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A bit of noise comes with the territory when you are apartment living with dogs.
Sure some dogs are better suited to apartment life than others, but every dog is “doggy” from time to time. They run, they jump, they play, the squeak toys and sometimes, they bark. Thus is life with dogs. While the occasionally noisy romp or bark is unlikely to irk even the most quarrelsome of neighbours, consistent day to day dogs noise is obnoxious and makes it difficult to enjoy your own living space. No one wants to be that neighbour. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to be a good apartment dweller and ensure that you minimize dog noise in your apartment.
Shut the Woof Up!
Barking is annoying, no matter how you look at it. Kolchak has a way of whining like he’s been stabbed whenever meat products are about. Felix likes to woof whenever it looks like Koly is having too much fun playing tug or wrassling with me. (He’s totally the fun police.)
- Teach your dog a reliable “hush” command. For the record, Kolchak’s “hush” command is “CRAM IT, KOLCHAK!” and it works like a charm. You can teach your dog to hush using these tips.
- Eliminate or restrict access to barking hot spots. We’ve told you guys how Felix is a wee bit sound reactive (and by a wee bit, I mean he is utterly convinced that keys in the hallway means Michael Myers is outside the door.) I use a baby gate to keep him from loitering in the entry way, he only has supervised access to the deck and we listen to audiobooks, the radio or the TV to cover any ambient noise that comes with apartment life.
- Recognize barking triggers to better manage them. Try to note what sets off your dog barking and either eliminate the trigger or train to desensitize against it. We’re working on Felix’s “fun police” barking by settling him in with stuffed Kong before Kol and I play. I manage Kol’s “meat mania” by feeding the dogs before I eat, so he’s full and by providing bully sticks or other meaty chews for him to enjoy if we have company over for appies or snacks.
Thumpity, thump thump!
- Make getting on and off easier. We built a DIY Dog Ramp to help prevent the dogs from jumping off the bed and landing with a thud (and to protect Felix’s ACL from being torn again or the other one from blowing out.) I’m working on a short table/stair case to make getting of the couch easier and less jumpy. In the meantime, I’ve tossed a couple of thick dog beds in front of the sofa and I encourage the dogs to jump on those.
- Teach your dog the “four on the floor” command. This was one of the best commands we learned in puppy school (and why I always recommend people take a positive reinforcement training class with their new dogs). All it takes is a simple “FOURS, Kolchak” reminder and my bouncy puppy is all decorum and good behaviour again. Jumping is a pin in the tail! Check out how to train “four on the floor” with this video.
- Provide an outlet for bouncy behavior. Take advantage of public spaces get in a little tug of war time. Sometimes we’ll take a tug on our walk and use to as positive reinforcement for good behavior. My dogs loves jumping around after a flirt pole at our local park. If you must play bouncy games in the house, Pamela from Something Wagging suggests doing it on the bed. A thick mattress and the dead space between the frame and the floor can help muffle any wrassling noises. You can also buy Noise Isolation Feet to go under furniture to minimize bouncing-related noises.
Use Decor to Diffuse Noise
Minimalist design may be all the rage, but the truth is that decorating can help to minimize noise in an apartment. Using a variety of fabrics and finishes can help to diffuse sound and make the impact of sounds like barking, whining and banging less noticeable.
- Hang drapes. Fabrics help to diffuse noise and the more generous the curtains you hang, the better they will work. For best results, choose a heavy weight fabric that is 32 oz/yard or more. (If weighty fabric is outside your budget, you can use multiple layers of a lighter weight material. This is great if you’re looking to line your curtains with a light reduction fabric. Choose a porous material and avoid products like leather, vinyl or acrylic-faced fabrics.
- Carpeting is your friend. Even if you decide not to carpet your entire living space with a noise reduction foam and carpet, using a plush throw rug with a noise reduction carpet pad underneath can make a huge difference.
- Choose noise reducing wall art. Canvases are a better choice than framed pictures. For added noise reduction, you can cut pieces of noise reducing foam to fit between the canvas and the wall. They also make decorative wall panels meant to absorb sound that can make an interesting wall feature.
- Think outside the box. A friend of mine lives in an apartment with a family of tap dancing hippos living upstairs. She covered a few large box frames (like the kind canvases are stretched on) and covered them with a non-porous neutral coloured leather, filled the backs with noise reducing foam and then hung them an inch from her ceiling. She’s lost a bit of ceiling height, but her upstairs neighbours say they can’t even hear her dogs anymore.