How To Deal With a Tattletale Neighbor?

updated Dec 19, 2019
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Q: My husband and I moved into a townhouse complex a few months ago with our dog and so far we’ve liked living there. The place is well-maintained and the neighbors are all pretty nice – with the exception of one…

We always try to be very considerate neighbors, especially since we know what it’s like to deal with the annoyances that come from living around people who couldn’t care less about whether they’re disturbing someone. As such, we avoid turning the TV or radio up too loud, clean up after our dog (and make sure he keeps quiet) and generally just try to be friendly and “neighborly.”

Well, one of the things we love about our place is that we have a little outdoor patio in the back where we can grill, read, and generally enjoy the outside. Our dog enjoys it too. He’s exceptionally well-trained (something people love to compliment him on). Because he is so trustworthy, we often like to sit on the patio with him off his leash, because he simply sits with us and we don’t see the point in restraining him when we are right there to grab him if he suddenly has a change of personality and goes berserk – so far, it’s never happened.

One day while we were doing this, a lady who lives on the complete other side of the complex was out with her dog and saw us sitting on our patio with our dog off-leash. Yes, it’s technically against the rules to have your dog outside without a leash and the fact that others in the complex do it too is no excuse. We broke the rules. We fully acknowledge this and knew if any of our neighbors expressed discomfort with our actions or if our dog ever acted out of turn, we would put him on a leash.

Our dog didn’t go after her or even make a move toward her. At most, he looked at her curiously then continued napping. This lady, however, gave us a very dirty look and went inside – to call the management company. Instead of speaking with us directly, she went straight to the authorities, and had the management company put us on notice. This is a complete shock for me because, like I said, I do my best to be a good neighbor, but I also want to enjoy living at home. Now it seems like if one toe goes out of line with this lady we’re going to hear from the management company — you know, if we have a guest who stays with us for four days instead of three (like my mother who lives twelve hours away). We’re fine with putting our dog on a leash (and we do now, every single time he’s outside), but isn’t it a bit extreme to go straight to tattling on your neighbors right off the bat? Am I overreacting? How should I handle this situation? -Sent by Annoyed

Editor: I have a feeling this letter is going to prompt a tidal wave of tattletale neighbor stories that will get our blood boiling deliciously. And if you’ve ever been a “tattletale” neighbor, we’d love to hear from you, too! What advice do you have for Annoyed, her neighbors, and anyone in a similar situation?

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