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View Poll Results: How would you prefer a neighbor handle your "murdering" dogs?
Tell me, but do nothing and let me handle it. 1 33.33%
In the interest of peace, just let it go. Stuff happens 0 0%
Do and say nothing. Cat owners should keep their pets in. 1 33.33%
We live in the country so our dogs can have freedom. Leave us alone. 0 0%
Aversion training is okay, if the cat owner doesn't hurt my dogs, but I want to know why and what. 1 33.33%
Aversion training is okay, but don't tell me or I'll feel defensive. 0 0%
Voters: 3. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-07-2009, 01:28 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 2
Unhappy Keeping neighbors dog away from our property

I don't have a dog, but I have a "dog problem."

We live in the country, on an acreage, with houses on both sides that own 4-5 dogs (each). We each have about 10 acres. The neighbors are good people. but when their dogs are loose, they run together in packs.

We had a cat we loved very much. She was an inside cat, that we monitored carefully to be sure she stayed inside. A week ago she got out of the garage when the door was open to move the car, and we didn't see her go. We were even watching to be sure. When we came home an hour-and-half later the neighbor reported that their dogs had killed her. I know this was not an easy bit of news to report. They had buried her for us.

From the marks on the front porch, that was where they had cornered her and the struggle took place. On the rare occasions she did get out, she returned quickly and came to the front door to ask to be let back in, so that she was cornered there makes sense.

We don't want to be mean, or cause harm to the dogs. But we do want to do everything we can to be sure this sad event is not repeated.

Do dog lovers have any suggestions for ways we can teach the dogs NOT to come on our property, and stay on their own acreages instead?

The only idea we have come up with is to initiate a conversation with both neighbors, explaining what happened and why we will be aggressively shooing their pets from our property, and explain that we have no intention of causing their pets harm. Then with a slingshot, give the dogs a sting, and tell them to "GO HOME!" when they come here

Ideas, help, and wisdom are appreciated. We want to live in peaceful coexistence with our nice neighbors, but we must protect our two new girls, too.
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Old 12-07-2009, 02:22 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 192
Default managing other people's dogs

This really deserves a blog post, but I thought the forum would be a great place to start (and continue) the discussion.

First of all - I'm VERY sorry to hear about your cat. One of our cats likes to be outdoors, and I always let her out reminding myself to accept the potential consequences of my actions (fox sightings in this area, for example). It wouldn't, of course, make the situation FEEL any less tragic.

Interestingly, you mention this as a "dog problem" - but in all honesty it sounds to me like a neighbor problem. As in it's clearly not your responsibility to keep dogs off your property, and clearly their responsibility to keep their dogs under control. Unless you live in some kind of association where dogs have the right to wander at will.

So your first, and most important, course of action is to talk to your neighbors. I might start with simple requesting a meeting in person, and then, once you're sitting at the table, perhaps telling them a little bit about your cat. Stories about her antics, thoughts of how much she meant to you. Give her "a face" for your neighbors, and let them see a little bit about how it feels to have what happened happen. Yes, you'll be making yourself a little bit vulnerable. You could mention the "signs of struggle" that you saw on your porch. You are trying to build a connection with your neighbors, so that they feel like you're working together - not that you've come over to attack them (which they'll probably be worried about).

Then suggest that you are happy to do what you can to keep your cats off their property, and you, in turn, would like to hear their thoughts on how they are going to keep their dogs off your property. And see what they say. There are all sorts of containment systems (fence, invisible fence, etc.) that they could use if they are not going to actually step up to TRAIN their dogs not to go onto your property. The point here is not to tell them what you're going to do. Get them to tell you what THEY'RE going to do. And exact a commitment from them.

At some point along the way, or if you don't feel comfortable speaking with your neighbors this directly, you could potentially have animal control pay them a visit. Imagine if you had little children visiting you and something happened? (or with one of your other neighbors, for that matter).

I think that the negative reinforcement (Yell/slingshot/etc.) could potentially work. And it could also backfire (i.e. create a "charge" around your house - meaning the dogs come to your place all "aroused" and in drive mode, and then your attempt at a "shock" could add fuel to the fire). Unless the shock was big enough. Without traumatizing your cats at the same time. And at that point, it could "backfire" by causing injury to their dogs, and creating a more serious "neighbor problem". I would instead emphasize to your neighbors that it is THEIR responsibility to keep their dogs off your property, and examine how you feel about their responses. Are they stepping up the way they should be? My hope is that they really do want to preserve a good relationship with you, and so they'll act accordingly.

I'm reminded of the phrase "good fences make good neighbors" - perhaps not practical for your acreage...?

That is step one, and step two really depends on the response you get. Please let us know, and we can keep this conversation going. I'd also love to hear from others who have confronted this kind of issue.

Here in Maine, for instance, I would try to be neighborly at all costs. It's a neighborly sort of place. However, here in Maine it's also legal, as far as I know, to shoot any marauding dog that comes onto your property. Now that's obviously not a very neighborly response. Though it's not that far off from what you're suggesting (slingshot). You could try something loud, like one of those horns people use at sporting events. Though that could damage your own hearing, as well as the dogs. And then we're back in "backfiring" territory. And while there's something a bit cavalier and powerful about pulling out the shotgun, I wouldn't recommend that solution either. Unless you have no other choice (and assuming that it's allowed where you are).

Perhaps a less risky approach would be to figure out a way to contain the dogs on your property when they show up (use treats to entice them into an area in which you can enclose them), and then call animal control to tell them that there are some stray dogs on your property. Maybe they belong to your neighbors, maybe they don't? You're not sure. A little embarrassment at the hands of the law (how many times will they want animal control summoned on their account?) will help incentivize their management of the situation.

The holidays are coming. Perhaps a copy of my instructional DVD set would look nice as part of the seasonal cookie assortment that you're planning to deliver?

If there are other details that you think would be relevant, please let us know, and please do keep us posted! Others care to chime in as well?
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Old 12-07-2009, 02:28 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 192
Default one last note

I voted on your poll - but really I don't think that "talking to the murdering dog owner" is doing nothing. Especially if you create common ground and elicit a commitment from me about how you're going to fix the situation (or at least a commitment to a timeframe within which you will figure out, and communicate, a solution).

In reading your poll something crystallized for me - when you say "dog" think "children". Do you think your neighbors would want to have you disciplining their children for them? That makes the "what to do" a bit more real for me. At least pushing me more in one direction (get neighbors to accept responsibility) than the other (punish the offenders directly).

So, people - your dogs kill the neighbors cats - how do YOU want that to be handled?
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Old 12-07-2009, 05:37 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 2
Default Neighbors

In fairness to our neighbors, I must say that we do have good neighbors and though we don't know them well we think highly of them. They are not mean, irresponsible, or any other negative adjective I can think of. Though the dogs do come around in "packs" (meaning "hanging out with their other buddies"), I do believe the owners try to encourage them to stay home.

Actually, we quite like dogs. We would have one if we thought we could give it what it needed with our lifestyle. In our case a cat is a better fit.

I suspect I was hoping you could give me a solution that wouldn't be so hard to do (yeah, wimpy, I know) - and a better one that we've been able to think of. I also realize there is a problem in me, as much as "with them". I absolutely hate the idea of putting someone, especially my neighbors, on the spot - or risk coming across as confrontational. It feels like lose-lose.

It would probably be legal to shoot them, but we could never kill anyone's pet. I don't think animal control provides services outside the city, and like Maine, being a good neighbor is very important, and a quality we value as a rural area associated with a small town (several thousand, not tens of thousands.) Also, caging the dogs, then claiming not to know where they belong feels wrong to me.

Probably I'm just going to have to bake some cookies and go for a visit, and ask them to "fix" it. Sigh.

Surely they wouldn't hurt a child the same way ... right? Our grandchildren don't live close, but do visit. They're all school age now, have dogs, and wouldn't be inclined to run, so initiating a "chase" reflex. And both of the dog-owners' homes have had, or have children, around.

We have now taped the cat door to the garage shut, so our new babies can never get out there (we hope). We bought harnesses for them, and will even more actively do everything we can to be sure they never experience the outdoors unless they are on a leash. Fortunately we live in a big house with lots of windows from where they can watch the world, play, and live.

It hit us pretty hard - we were surprised at how much grief we felt, and how much a part of our lives she had become these past 7 years. Imagining her last minutes I'm sure didn't help. She trusted us to take care of her and was likely expecting us to come to her rescue, and we weren't there when she needed us most. She was somewhat dog-like in some ways -- when we were sick not leaving our sides, "talking" to us, loyal, a companion, sleeping at the foot of our bed, waking us in the morning when she thought we should get up, "helping" hubby shave in the mornings and out of sorts if he was not there, a friend.

We don't dislike our neighbors, or their dogs, not at all. Nor are we angry with anyone. I know how difficult it would have been for me to be the deliverer of the news instead of the receiver of it. They could have just removed the evidence, buried her, and not told us what happened, allowing us to worry and wonder. But they didn't - that's the kind of people they are. They did an upstanding thing, even though it must have been horrible for them to take ownership of it.

We just want to prevent it from happening again. Again. Like Neil said - how do YOU think we should proceed, if it were your dogs? And, thanks Neil - we will take your advice into consideration. We appreciate it.

Thanks for your advice, in advance.

Last edited by patceelou; 12-07-2009 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:55 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 192
Default a few more thoughts

I'm glad to hear that you get along so well with your neighbors. And I hope you know some good cookie recipes.

I have a feeling that if you start your conversation(s) with your neighbors reminding them that you're not angry, that you like them as people, that you're not judging them, that you want a solution that's "win-win" - then your conversation is bound to be fruitful. Clearly some of the "solutions" that I offered above were at varying levels of "confrontational" - with the animal control-ish person (even rural communities usually have SOMEONE who fills this role - here anyway) being probably the only truly workable one. However, that was if you didn't have the kind of relationship with your neighbors that allowed for the conversation that you are going to have.

OK - now for the tough love.

I absolutely hate the idea of putting someone, especially my neighbors, on the spot - or risk coming across as confrontational. It feels like lose-lose.
Perhaps you can think of a way to have this conversation so that it's win-win. Honestly, there are some great techniques here on my main website that could help any dog overcome their compulsive attraction to cats. It's a common problem for a dog owner to have, afterall - and I can tell you that probably none of them ever wants to deal with their dog having killed a neighbor's cat. So maybe you approach your neighbors with a proposal - one where they work with their dogs AROUND your cats to take the charge away and rechannel that attraction into...their owners. That's what I'd be counseling a dog-owner to do in this situation, anyway.

A few things though. If you care about your neighbors, then you will see this as an opportunity to help them make things right with you. And they showed you, in owning up to what happened, that they care about you. Since they care about you, then they will undoubtedly be particularly receptive to however you propose (or invite them to propose) that the situation be truly rectified, without anything but the most minor of chances that injury to cats (or dogs) will result.

It will be clear to your neighbors that you are coming from a place of love, and caring, and therefore it'll be that much more likely that you'll arrive at a win-win place.

Why should they have to live in fear that their dogs will do something like that again? You'll be helping them put that fear to rest once and for all.

Why should your new cats have to live like little feline Emily Dickinsons, shut away from all the field mice they could be, er...playing with?

Now, granted, we don't know each other at all. So this next thing I'm about to say might sound harsh, but I want you to know that I'm going to say it because I care about you too.

You need to love and respect yourself, and your deceased cat, enough to follow through on a true solution. Seriously. Don't you deserve to live without being afraid that your cat(s) might slip out into your OWN yard? Doesn't your poor cat deserve being able to look down upon the world and know that you truly made things right, so all the cats afterwards could live the lives that they were meant to live? As free as any dog in the neighborhood?

If you want to take responsibility for anything (and many people here will recognize that I'm all about taking responsibility for your own actions) - how about this: take responsibility for the fact that your fear of "confrontation" kept you from having the conversation with your neighbors that you should have had a long time ago. Perhaps your cat died so you could get over this problem of avoiding necessary confrontation once and for all?

Again, I go back to the kid thing. Sure, this wasn't a child. But to hear you describe your relationship with your cat, doesn't it make sense? You have to have your kid's back. Meaning that when you're in charge of protecting a child, you just have to stand up for them and do what's right. And the solution probably isn't telling them that they'll just have to learn how to write poems all day and fear the sunshine for the rest of their lives.

OK - toughlove and fatalism session over.

Imagine at least two or three ideal outcomes. We've already come up with a couple.
  1. Your neighbors keep their dogs within the bounds of their own properties, free to roam at will as long as they don't stray onto your property. Dogs are happy. Your cats are free to roam on your property. They probably won't stray too far from the house anyway. Cats happy. Both you and your neighbors don't have to worry about potential injury to each other's pets. Everyone happy.
  2. Your neighbors commit to working with their dogs so that the dogs aren't attracted to your cats. This would take a LOT of effort on their part. But perhaps the reward, that their dogs could still roam "freely", and even hang with your cats every once and awhile, would be worth the effort on THEIR part.
  3. <insert another ideal outcome here> and perhaps a fourth as well.
Keep those in your mind when you go to talk with your neighbors. Elicit their input, their own vision of the ideal outcome. And then work together to make it happen. Learn all the harmonies to kumbayah. And feel how good it is to stand tall because your spine has been restored to a condition of health. If you love your neighbors, and you love yourself, then you will do the truly loving things - be honest, and get over your fears, so you can have a shot at a true win-win solution.
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Old 12-07-2009, 09:12 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Taupo New Zealand
Posts: 147
Default Neighbors Dogs

First I'm so very sorry to here about your cat a very sad situation.

We also live on 10 acres with other houses about. The difference is yes I take the dogs around the paddocks and they are great for playing in but my dogs do not have free range of the property, they stay in the yard unless with one of us.

When we first moved out to the 'farm' one of my cats went missing (they are all outdoor cats), I went and saw all neighbors and I searched everywhere, then a month later another 2 went missing on the same day. To this day I don't know if the neighbors two dogs got them or a farmer shot them but after putting flyers in all letterboxes in the area we lost no more.

My situation was different to yours but if I ever saw a neighbors dog on my property I would be ringing them every time and asking them to come and get it, make them do this every time and they might realise how often their dogs are on your property. Here in NZ we have 7 wire fences for boundary fences so most dogs and stock can not get through. One time the neighbors piglets got through and destroyed my new garden so I went and saw them and straight away they put an electric fence up to stop them getting through. I'd say there are a number of things the owners of these dogs could do so I'd suggest a friendly but frank talk to them about your cat and how you felt about it and could they please do something about keep their pets on their own property so that you can in time get another cat without the fear of it happening again.

If that doesn't work then all I could suggest would be to put a good farming electric fence around the boundary, a dog will keep well clean of those but sad if you have to go to that.

Zeke & Ty
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Old 12-07-2009, 10:52 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 192
Default great suggestions Chris

Yes, those are some good suggestions. I like the "phone call every time" thing - perhaps the owners aren't aware of the extent of the problem? And that would certainly raise their awareness.

One last thing patceelou - Thank you for posting your question here, and for giving us an opportunity to address both the doggie part of the problem AND the human part. I really appreciate your willingness to bring the discussion here, and hope that you're finding it to be helpful.
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:10 AM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 42

Good suggestion Chris, I did the same. The dog of someone living a few hundred meters away kept escaping and crying outside my door. The dog is very fond of Butters and I and seems to want to come and live with us causing me some major sleep deprivation.

It happens because the neighbour just lets his dogs out loose to pee in the winter, he has no fences. Guess it is just a bit too cold for him. The dog in question often does not go back in. Last winter it happened on a regular basis, this winter, after just one phone call at 3 am it has not happened again. And no hard feelings with the neighbour either - It is a simple, hey, can you come and get your dog.

You could say something similar during such a call, maybe adding, I would like to get them out of the habbit of coming over here for the safety of our new kittens/cats.

Though I do agree with Niel that ideally we should all get over our issues on confronting those that impose on us, and learning to do so in a good way, this approach is not such a big confrontation, and maybe an easier first step than the big sit down at the table with the cookies. :-)

On second thoughts, I would also be worried that a group of dogs that had killed my cat could potentially do same to a child. Any thoughts on that would be very welcome from Niel or Lee.

Last edited by Margot; 12-10-2009 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 12-16-2009, 09:30 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 26

While Neil's suggestions seem like the mature thing to do, I'd honestly be nervous to follow them and risk bad relations with the neighbors, who I'd then fear would want to shoot my cat should they see it out and about. I've worked in some rural areas of upstate NY and Maine. While some people have seemed warm and friiendly, as soon as there is the smallest complaint, even when it's mistakenly perceived, things can disintegrate quickly no matter how polite people try to broach the subject, and some rural people just love to let you know they have guns. I know most people can be reasonable, but you just never know. I've personally never tried, just watched it happen with others. I think people who feel like their dogs are entitled to run free can be very sensitive to even a hint that what they're doing isn't within their rights. But that's just my limited experience. If I didn't have pets and felt safe I probably would call up every time I saw the dog, and then call animal control, if only because I was concerned about it being hit by a car.

Growing up in an area that was changing from rural to suburban sprawl there was an interesting interface of people with different values- the Tarantino family from NYC were forever at war with the old timer Joe Shallow, whose friendly little dog ran free and left small presents on their newly manicured lawn. My mother's method for dealing with the neighbor's pets on our yard was to spray them with the hose. If they persisted or the water to the hose was turned off for winter she threw buckets of hot water on them, just hot from the tap, not boiling but more than just warm and so probably painful. As I got older the dog warden was seen more and more in the neighborhood and dogs roaming free slowly came to an end by the time I was a teenager.

I'm sorry for your loss. As a dog owner, I feel like you are entitled to not have my dog on your property, and are in rights to do anything short of hurting it to make it go away (even if the law says you can shoot it, I'd think a person wrong for doing so unless it was hurting your pets). I would not prefer someone 'helping' me train in this way, but would feel I gave up my rights through negligence. But then I would appreciate the phone call and would be worried sick if I didn't know where my dog was.

Last edited by jojo; 12-16-2009 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 01-16-2010, 06:40 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 192
Default any update?


Just wondering if there's any news on how your situation with the neighbors is going....
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kill cat, neighborhood dogs, pack

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