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My Pet World: When dogs bark aggressively at the fence, they can strain neighborly relations

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I have three rescue dogs. I am respectful of the neighborhood and have trained my dogs not to bark when they are out in our large, fenced yard. My neighbor adopted a lab, who barks aggressively through the slats in our shared fence. I spoke to her about synching our "out" times since one of my dogs is highly dog-aggressive. She didn't seem interested. She will work outside for hours with her dog when she's home. I have asked her if I could take my dogs out. She asks, "Why?" I gave up and now wait till she is gone. Yesterday, she worked outside for six hours with no break, and with her dog present. I had to walk two of my dogs into the front yard on a leash. Her lab would have attacked my third, more passive dog but for the fence. The neighbor did nothing. I don't know whether the neighbor is thoughtless, stupid, or mean. I don't know what to do other than wait until she is gone. Any ideas?

— Claire, Sykesville, Maryland

Dear Claire,

I once lived next door to a woman with three dogs. Whenever our dogs were out simultaneously, they barked and hit the fence from both sides. It's a common occurrence when there are multiple dogs in neighbor yards.

I trained my dogs to "leave it" so they would ignore her dogs. But sometimes, they broke through the training and barked and hit the fence because the temptation was too much. Because it would have been a matter of time before one dog broke through and a fight ensued, I talked to my neighbor about rotating our dogs outside, not just for our sanities but for the well-being of our dogs. It's not good to let dogs act obnoxious like this with other dogs. We agreed that if we both let our dogs out simultaneously, one of us would bring our dogs inside and wait until the other dogs were in before letting our dogs out again. Her dogs might be out for a half-hour, then my dogs would be out for a half-hour. We never set a schedule; it developed intuitively – and respectfully.

All you can do is talk to her. The goal is simple: you want to end the fighting between the dogs to ensure everyone (dogs and humans) has a more peaceful and less stressful time outside. A good place to restart the conversation might be with this tip: If you staple chicken wire across the bottom of the fence (on both sides), it will reduce the chances of a fence board breaking and a dog pushing through to the other yard. Plus, dogs don't like to scratch a fence with chicken wire on it, so it should reduce some of the fence fighting.

Dear Cathy,

I found a calico cat near the subway on January 4, 2022. She's about seven months old. I plan to have her spayed. She's the only pet, and I'm the only human living in this studio apartment. I feel bad leaving her alone when I go to work overnight. My problem is, twice she has pooped in the corner of my tub and twice in my kitchen sink. I have read they do this if they feel the litter box isn't clean enough or they have a UTI. I pull out stool from her litterbox whenever it's there and change the litter entirely every three to four days. What else must I do? Am I not changing it enough?


— Wayne, Jamaica Estates, Queens, New York

Dear Wayne,

She is probably still adjusting to your home if she has no urinary infection. As a former outside cat, she is not accustomed to using a litter box. Help her by removing the litter box top since she may prefer to stand on the edge of the box and not in the litter. Using an odorless litter is also helpful. Scoop the litter twice daily and continue changing it out completely once a week if it's a quality litter. (Cheaper litter requires more frequent changes.) Purchase a litter box attractant and sprinkle it in her box to further help lure her to the box. Please place the litter box in a low-traffic area where the sound of a dryer buzzer or a toilet flushing won't scare her.

Finally, don't worry about leaving her to go to work. Cats sleep, on average, 18 hours a day.

Just give her lots of attention when you are with her.


(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)

©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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