How to Deal With Nuisance Neighbors
No-fail strategies for handling eight types of annoying Joneses.
The Careless Dog Owner
Lets her pooch out to prowl freely―and dig up your lawn, howl at the moon, and sift through your trash.
How to deal: Skip the blame game, says Stephanie Shain, director of outreach programs for companion animals at the Humane Society of the United States, in Washington, D.C. "Your neighbor will probably feel embarrassed and defensive, so be honest," she says. "Let her know this is uncomfortable for you to bring up, too." Focus on the animal's behavior―not the owner's. Explain that you're concerned about the dog's welfare and that you want a peaceful neighborhood and unsullied gardens. Then try to come to a solution together. If you can't bring yourself to talk in person, write a letter, says Shain. If nothing changes after a reasonable period, contact local law-enforcement officials and your animal-control agency and find out about noise ordinances and leash laws.
Drops the kids off at noon and returns at nightfall; borrows the lawn mower and never returns it.
How to deal: If you always agree to do things for her, she might be oblivious to the offense. Whenever you offer to help, make clear up front what you are willing to do, says Jane Adams, Ph.D., a psychologist in Seattle and the author of Boundary Issues: Using Boundary Intelligence to Get the Intimacy You Want and the Independence You Need in Life, Love, and Work ($25, amazon.com). Say, "Sure, I can watch your child for half an hour. Then I'll run out and you can watch mine"; or "Yeah, you can borrow the lawn mower for the afternoon, but I'll need it to cut my grass tomorrow." Women who don't work outside the home can be prime targets for time-consuming requests because others assume they are free all day, says Adams. So have an excuse ready to go: "I'm busy until 5 p.m." says it all.