As a member of the Etsy affiliate program and an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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.
* * *
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.
Thursday 6th of January 2022
I have lived in my apartment building close to 40 years.
My landlord has remodeled some apartments in the building where he has removed the carpets. And now allows dogs, before he didn’t.
This is the second couple who have moved in the past year and 1/2 or so who are dog owners. Their dogs room is above my room and their home all day. I hear nothing, but rattling, scratching and squeaky noise when I’m home all day, everyday all day long. I’m not always home, because I work. But when I’m home sick with COVID or any illness I can’t rest or relax because their dog. I have written letters to them but they don’t seem to care, I can’t asked my landlord because he won’t do nothing.
I never owned a dog, but I am a dog lover and I’m not trying to be mean. But their dogs noise is very annoying and bothersome because this last like around 12 hours all day or so.
I just want a neighbor who are consider to others.
What can I do?
Jodi & Kolchak
Sunday 9th of January 2022
That's so hard! And really common in older buildings after they are remodeled. Carpet used to be a big part of how the minimized noise in apartments. And unfortunately, if the right materials weren't installed when the floors were changed, there's not a lot you can do to fix it after. And based on what you're saying, it doesn't necessarily sound like their dog is acting unreasonably; more that the construction materials used were inadequate to create a good sound barrier between units. (I get it! I live in an older building with the same issue!)
A few ideas: If you aren't using a lot of thick lush fabrics in your decor, start adding them. Drapes, wall canvases with sound foam in them and lots of fabric surfaces can help absorb sound instead of bouncing it around. But that will only stop it from bouncing around; you're still going to hear it.
You could ask your landlord about adding sound panels to your ceiling, but that is probably the only thing that's going to make a super noticeable improvement. I'm wishing you lots of luck with the problem; as both a dog owner and someone who has lived below other dogs (and toddlers!) I absolutely understand how hard it is.
Sunday 26th of August 2018
Hi! Thank you for this post. I know this is so long ago now, but do you know how your friend hung the panels from the ceiling? Did he/she have to use screws at all to mount it? I am considering trying that for my loud neighbor upstairs. Thanks!
Monday 27th of August 2018
Hi Danyon, She used a product that was suspended from the ceiling using a wire hanger. This isn't the same brand because she doesn't remember what brand she used, but it's the same look. There are absolutely less expensive options on the market! She just liked the bright white colour and design. (Affiliate link) https://amzn.to/2wr3rpz
Friday 29th of September 2017
I wish I could figure out noise reduction from the hallway. When I leave coda whines and howls. You can't hear it from outside but the hallway door might as well be open with how loud it is!
Friday 29th of September 2017
That one is TOUGH. First, of you don't already have one, get a solid core door. It will do a much better job of dampening sound. You can also get accoustical door seal kits that seal off any air leaks.
If there's a way to keep your pup in an area away from the door (like a bedroom) that can help too. Good luck!
Saturday 19th of April 2014
Nice tips Jodi.
Saturday 26th of April 2014
Thank you :)
Thursday 17th of April 2014
When you said "thump" I thought you were going to talk about tiny thumps outside that make them bark. That's Chester's issue. He even barks at tiny thumps INSIDE NOW (like setting a glass on a table or closing the cupboard). We lived for years in an apartment but he was never as barky as he is now. I am not sure I could do it now but fear it might be a necessity someday.
Saturday 26th of April 2014
I was honestly 110% convinced that Felix would never be an apartment dog. We've had some HUGE success with noise desenitivity training. I can recite the Harry Potter books, but ambient noise makes it so much easier. I also found that reinforcing his "grumpy old man chuff" (this cute, gruff little almost bark that is very quiet) super helpful. More and more, he does this as opposed to barking...