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Can I sue my neighbor for letting her dog wake me up too early? It is ruining my physical and mental health.

Vail, AZ |

It barks for less than 15 min so no laws are being broken The police can't help. I have been awakened early 5 out of the last 7 days around 7 AM. Sometimes it only barks once but I can't get back to sleep. I have been too upset to get a nap later If I go to bed early I can't sleep until my regular time. I emailed her but she thinks it's ok because it is only bothering me and not others. Lack of sleep makes me broken. I can't do my housework or even read or do a hobby. I am so sad I cry off and on all day long. My eyes are so swollen from crying that I can't do errands in public. I have headaches, nausea, my heart beat is louder. I have not done dishes or opened mail for about 3 days. I have lost my appetite and I think if I ate I would throw up. I am so sad that I want to die.

I have never suffered from depression or any other psychiatric disorder. I used to wake up happy and have a productive day when I was getting enough sleep. What I am describing are signs of sleep deprivation. I found a list and I have about 8 of 10 of the effects listed. Sleep deprivation is illegal to use on suspected terrorists because it is so horrible. All of these symptoms started exactly when the barking became almost daily. Ear plugs would not work because then I can hear noises from inside my ears, like the blood moving and my pulse. They do help when I am awake. White noise would be horrible constant sound, like a fan or a broken tv. My ears hurt when exposed to sound like that. Thanks anyway for answering.

Attorney Answers 3


First, I would suggest you see your doctor -- what you describe are signs of clinical depression (I was a therapist prior to law school.)

7am is not very early for most people. I don't think you would have a very successful case. Can you try some ear plugs? A white noise machine (trust me, they are great!)

Attorney Inga Stevens is licensed in Maine. She provides general information on No attorney-client relationship arises out of the information given here.

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I agree with my colleague.

Look, dogs bark, but based on the facts of this situation, the dog's barking does not rise to the level of being any kind of nuisance for which you could be compensated.

DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area. NO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS ARISING FROM AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE ESTABLISHED WITH ME UNLESS I HAVE EXPRESSLY AGREED TO UNDERTAKE YOUR REPRESENTATION, WHICH INCLUDES THE EXECUTION OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT OF RETAINER.

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I agree with my colleagues - dogs bark, 7 am is not unusually early (in my neighborhood school buses are out before 7), and your reaction is way out of proportion to what is happening. Your reaction and your comment regarding white noise lead me to believe that you really need to see a doctor for depression screening. This is not a legal issue.

If we do not have a signed fee agreement I am not your attorney and this is not legal advice.

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She was quiet this morning and I woke up happy and normal. Just one night of good sleep does not cure depression. If she stays quiet I won't need to sue her. I don't care if the dog makes noise when I am not in bed. My dog does not bark outside because I go with him like a responsible neighbor. The 3 pit bull dogs on the other side of me do not bark often because their owners are responsible.

Erin Levine

Erin Levine


I think the key here is in your first sentence. "It barks for less than 15 minutes so no laws are broken." Then you say "if she stays quiet I won't need to sue her." On what grounds? Check the noise ordinances in your city. I am sure that you will find that not only are people allowed to commence making noises at a certain time of day (like 7a - 10p) but a set decibel level is also allowed a specific amount of feet from the property line before it becomes a nuisance. Meaning that your neighbors can use power tools to repair their roof at 9:59pm as long as they stop by 10:00p with the noise. Your case won't hold up because dogs bark. If you are sleep deprived because you are waking up at 7a (do you work nights? You didn't say) try going to bed earlier when it is quiet.

Erin Levine

Erin Levine


Not that your neighbors ARE using power tools, it is just an analogy for decibel reference.

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