When you have a dog and a neighbor who is scared of your dog, you have a minor issue on your hands. Sure, your dog is in a fenced yard or on a chain, but when your dog barks at your neighbor every time they get mail or go out to their car and your neighbor is afraid of your furry friend, it doesn’t matter how friendly your dog really is, your neighbor needs some reassurance that your dog isn’t going to try to chomp them if they come too close to your yard.
I live in a trailer, which means my fence goes almost all the way to my neighbor’s property, per park code. Unfortunately, my neighbor will always happen to be walking the 3 foot space between his property and my fence to get to his back door or whatever when my dog is outside just minding her own. He immediately begins swatting at her and yelling at her in Spanish when she is lying on my porch, which gets her attention and prompts her to wander the fence behind him, sniffing the air. He then begins running like hell to his back door in sheer fright, while my dog stands there with her head cocked to the side wagging her tail. I don’t know why he has to bother her when she is ample feet away and there is a fence between them, but my fiance (who speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian) overheard the old man as he was running one day to his door muttering something about that “scary white dog”, so it gave me cause to approach my neighbors and find out what the fear actually is.
Since my neighbors don’t speak English (their toddler grandchild does, but she’s not afraid of the dog, go figure), I sent my fiance over to their home when they were mowing the yard to ask them if our dog was in any way bothering them, or if she had done something to make them fear her so much. Turns out, they just plain don’t like dogs. My fiance asked if our dog has ever barked at or bitten at them, and they said she just sleeps all day, but sometimes follows them along the fence but has never barked at or even gotten close enough to them for them to touch her through the fence. My fiance then told them our dog’s name and that she is a nice dog (they were relieved to find out she was female), and left them his number and told them to call him if ever our dog got out or barked too much, and now they actually wave at me when they are outside, and the old man still dubiously checks out my dog, but doesn’t yell at her or swat from many feet away anymore.
If your neighbor is afraid of your dog, take the time to find out why. Maybe your dog got out and chased them, maybe he snaps at them through the fence, maybe they are just naturally afraid of dogs. Either way, taking the initiative to go to your neighbor’s home and find out what may or may not be an issue is a great start.
Tell your neighbor how friendly your dog is, what your dog’s name is, whether it’s a male/female, etc. If your neighbor knows a bit of history about your dog, it makes your dog less of a stranger, and therefore less of a threat. Explain to your neighbor that while your dog is still friendly, it would be best for them to not try to approach your dog unless you are home to avoid your dog becoming protective of their yard suddenly and really freaking your neighbors out. Basically, tell them nicely to just ignore your dog, and if your dog bothers them, to call you, and leave them your number and a smile.
Ask if there is anything you can do to help calm your neighbors down. Is your dog barking too much? Does it sit at the gate and pester your neighbors? Does it pace up and down the yard waiting for people to walk by to “chase”? Does is lunge at people from its chain? If so, you can take measures to keep your dog from threatening people and make your neighbors more comfortable.
However, it is YOUR dog, and your right to have one. If you are a responsible pet owner and your dog has done nothing to provoke fear in your neighbors, then you have nothing to worry about. I let my dog out still when my neighbors are outside, because it’s not my fault (or my dog’s) that they are afraid of her. Their grand daughter says “puppy, puppy” to my dog all the time when she’s out on her bike, and my dog just snoozes on. Yes, my neighbors are afraid of her, but as far as the issue goes, on both ends it is resolved. My neighbors were pacified in finding out my dog is friendly and harmless and just ignore her for the most part as they go about their business. Had there been a true problem, we would have dealt with it, but they have never called us to tell us otherwise and little by little they are learning to just ignore her as much as she does them. After all, we were here first.