Things are hopping in the neighborhood with new neighbors and new problems. Some are hard to believe.

With three dogs, the youngest (6 months old) with reactivity issues (which usually show up at about 5 months), I thought it best to go ahead and get that fence. It was put up 6 days ago.

My dog's reactivity takes the form of fear aggression: when he's afraid, he barks or lunges and barks (no bites... yet). I have a trainer, I consulted with a dog behaviorist, and my dog "Bob" is a lot better with people, but he is still reactive to new dogs. What a relief to get the fence! No more pulling the leash out of my hand and chasing after a jogger! No more wrapping a leash around my waist now every time I take him out!

My new next door neighbors have two dogs ("Yesss!!!", I thought to myself.) When they moved in (about a week ago), I went over and introduced myself (my dogs were inside), made a bit of small talk, offered to help in any way I could, etc.

Two days ago, new neighbor "Ted" is out with his dogs in his yard. "Cool," I thought, I'll introduce my dogs! I put a leash on "Bob" and headed into my yard. As soon as "Ted"'s dog (about 30 pounds heavier than "Bob") sees "Bob", he starts barking, which sets "Bob" off. He yanks the leash out of my hand and flies towards the fence, barking like a crazed animal.

Now, the fence wasn't cheap. It's a metal fence, 4.5" tall, with (metal) balusters 3 7/8" apart. (The 'hood HOD allows only two types of fence, this and vinyl.) So I was apologizing for my dog's barking as I ran after "Bob".

Then something unbelievable happened.

"Bob" pushed and twisted and got through the fence! "Bob" is not tiny; he's a 40 pound, muscular dog now. And this furry Houdini is barking in "Ted"'s barking dog's face. And "Ted" is (understandably) swearing at me, and I (understandably) am frantically trying to open the (unbeknownst to me; it was a new fence) locked gate and get to "Bob", because unlike him, I can't squeeze through it. Finally I figure it out, grab my dog (who is no longer barking or snapping, but is now smelling "Ted"'s dog's butt and acting 1. like a normal dog and 2. like nothing out of the ordinary just happened. I, on the other hand, am falling all over myself apologizing, swearing at the fence, apologizing again, swearing at my now sweet dog, and babbling like an idiot while "Ted" turns from red to a normal color (I am still beet red with embarrassment.

I would like the neighbors to think well of me. Though I apologized profusely and said I'd look into what could be done to the fence to prevent this from happening again, I think more is needed.

What can I do to underscore my apology to "Ted"? Flowers? A bag of dog treats? A BarkBox subscription?

  • 5
    But what actually happened? From your description, it sounds like neither dog really attacked the other but they just sort of yelled at each other, then calmed down and started introductions (sniffing) as mutts do. I get that the first lunge must have been scary for both Ted and Ted's dog, but you seem to be describing two dogs barking at each other and nothing more. Why do you need to apologize? Sounds like a classic case of all bark and no bite.
    – terdon
    Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 10:54
  • "...all bark and no bite." I like that. There was a lot of lunging, too, and the poor guy trying to keep them apart. I didn't see it all, because I was trying to unlock my gate. It probably is worse in my mind. Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 15:34

2 Answers 2


It kinda looks like you've already answered your own question here. You explained, apologized, and now you're looking to underscore your apology with a gift. Seems like you've got the situation well in hand.

I would probably lean towards a dog related gift. Dog treats seem like a good choice for most any dog owner, a magazine subscription may not be everyone's thing and may go unread, but treats are pretty universal.

A word of caution about apology gifts for people you don't know very well... Try not to go overboard. These are more symbolic gifts, where it really is the thought that counts. A overly extravagant/expensive gift may come across as a "buy off". You're reenforcing a social contract not paying for the offence directly. (You'll likely be paying for the offence directly if/when the actual fence issue is resolved.)

With that in mind, if you really want to go above and beyond, consider inviting them over for dinner or something along those lines. It's not just about an apology at that point, it's setting a better tone for a neighborly relationship moving forward.

  • BarkBox is a monthly package of dog treats and toys. :) Good answer, thanks! Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 6:08

Show your neighbor that your words have meaning by backing them with action, by making sure it won't happen again, now that your dog has proven that he can escape your fence whenever he really wants to: buy a solid vinyl fence, since that's the only other fence allowed by your neighborhood association.

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    Was going to answer the same thing, unless you can put something along the fence to stop this happening you need to some how make the fence dog proof. He was likely swearing (Ted, your neighbour) because he believed at the time that 'Bob' was a threat to his dog, or just because he was rather surprised at his behaviour from someone who he's seen to be so careful/knowledgeable around dogs (you). I wouldn't get a gift, as that to make says you feel you did something wrong (you didn't). Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 13:43
  • I just plunked down more than a few thousands on my metal fence. A vinyl fence would be several thousand more. Not gonna happen. More likely I'd put a poke on my dog - you know, those square wooden collars that were put on sheep or lambs to prevent them from going through holes in fences? That. Commented Dec 23, 2017 at 15:41

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