This question landed in my inbox and it was too colourful (and I fear too common a situation) for me not to share it. Here's what they are dealing with:
My neighbour's dog never shuts up.
A normal day has it up at 4:30 a.m. wherein it then proceeds to whine, cry, bark, and howl until 7 a.m. It barks when it's outside, it barks when it's in, it barks when our neighbours are home, it barks when they are not. It's relentless and even as a non-violent person, I've started fantasizing about drop kicking it in its curly stupid face. We like our neighbours and do the "Hey, how are you" thing, but we aren't close. How do I address this situation with them without utterly destroying our relationship?
Sleepless in T.O.
Dear Sleepless in T.O.,
Almost two things are as certain as your justified frustration. The first is that it is not the dog's fault. The second is that your neighbour is not going to like you calling them out. And that's just fine.
Dog owners think their pets are wonderful in the same way that parents think of their children, and that is in the most positive light. Maintaining the understanding that you can't knock the pooch off its pedestal will help you smooth this out. You won't win if you approach it from any other way. The pooch stays on the pedestal.
If you are close enough to exchange pleasantries, then you are close enough to have this conversation in person. Resist the temptation to slip a passive-aggressive note under their door. I am not suggesting the discussion is going to be pleasant, but it is worth it to have it face-to-face.
Take a deep breath and knock on the door. If the little offender greets you at the door when your neighbour answers, offer your hand for a sniff and a little head scratch. The pooch's owner will note the gesture.
Ask your neighbour if they have a quick moment to chat and explain that while you think their dog is delightful (this compliment is key), you are an absolute walking zombie because its barking keeps you awake. Let them know you've been debating how to broach the subject for ages and hoping it would just stop, but as it hasn't, so you've come to them to deal with it. Don't bitch. Don't complain. Don't get snotty. Simply state the situation, thank them for their time and wish them a great day. From there, you'll have to see how it shakes out. In the meantime, get earplugs.
If a week goes by and you are still not seeing progress, make a "Dog Be Damned" playlist that you can crank up to drown out the barking. See if they have the audacity to complain about how loud you're playing music at 7 a.m. If they do, I wouldn't be too fussed about destroying a relationship. They don't sound like the sort of people you'd want as friends anyway.