Is there a reasonable time limit for 'right to quiet enjoyment' in Wisconsin?

If an upstairs neighbor works odd hours, am I required to keep my dogs and small children quiet during normal daylight hours because they want silence while they are sleeping during the day? They have complained to our landlord that our dogs bark during the day -- generally for a few minutes when our garage door opens, when my husband first leaves and comes home and occasionally when they are playing with the kids. They do not bark overnight nor are left outside to bark and the barking is not excessive. They have complained about the baby crying (again during the day) for short periods of time (for instance while I'm making his food or when he doesn't want to nap). Are we free to make normal noises in our own home, or must we follow the requests of our neighbors?

Fond Du Lac, WI -

Attorney Answers (1)

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Litigation Lawyer - Irvine, CA
Answered

There is nothing your neighbor can do to you legally because your baby cries. Dogs are another story. Most cities, counties and HOAs have rules against dogs excessive barking and it does not matter when they bark--in communities I've lived in and represented, the city and the county both have dog barking rules. Here, if 3 separate neighbors complain about a dog's barking to the city, the owner is sent notices, then fines, then they follow up with the neighbors, and if it still is not taken care of, the city takes the dog and euthanizes it (and this is pro-animal rights California). The county, after complaints from 3 separate neighbors, lobs heavy fines at the owner, and the owner has to come to monthly court hearings, until all the complaining neighbors have attested that the barking is remedied. Here, the authorities don't get into "what is excessive" because if 3 neighbors complain, they assume it's a problem. Those who live in an HOA also have the Board pursue the owner, so it's a triplicate attack, or just a double attack with the city and county. You must find out the rules of your city and county regarding dogs barking. Due to the fact that so many people work from the internet, are business owners, are in real estate, and other businesses run from home due to the advancements of technology, I've never seen a law or an HOA make any distinction that a dog's barking can not be actionable because it is during the day--in the neighborhoods I've lived in and represented, many people were home/retired/worked from home/were old and infirmed so day or night did not make a difference. You can call the city and county and HOA (if you have one) and see what the specific rules are in your jurisdiction. I highly recommend that you buy a barking collar or a barking box. They are inexpensive, do not hurt the dog, and are quite effective (they emit an unpleasant sound everytime your dog barks, that only your dog can hear)--it trains him not to bark--batteries must be changed frequently though.

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