Neighbour Harassed Dog With His Drone

It turned out to be a costly mistake

Dog - drone

Karen B. London


You don’t need to be a vengeful person to feel great satisfaction about the consequences faced by a man who used his drone to tease his neighbour’s dog repeatedly. The man flew the drone past the shared eight-foot privacy fence and then close enough to nearly hit the dog. The dog became stressed out by it, especially after many experiences with the man making it dive low to a position just over the dog’s head, pulling out of the dive and then circling around and performing the same maneuver multiple times.

The dog’s guardian said that for many months after getting the drone, this neighbor “insisted on flying like the biggest jerk possible” and the description is apt. In addition to going after the dog over and over, he would position his drone right in front of other people’s houses, including at their windows, and also race cars down the road.

Though the dog’s guardian asked him not to fly it into his yard, explaining that it was scaring the dog, the neighbor’s only response was to tell him to go away and to laugh at him. Though the guardian contacted the police, they were unable or unwilling to do more than ask the man not to fly over his neighbor’s house and yard. The situation might never have been resolved if the dog hadn’t taken matters into his own mouth.

One day, when the drone was buzzing over his head, the dog (a 70-pound Malamute) caught the drone and destroyed it. It may be a powerful machine, but a dog’s jaws can easily tear a drone into pieces, especially with the proper motivational factors of fear, annoyance and frustration. Naturally, the owner of the drone was upset, even though most of us would say he had it coming.

The drone owner reacted in two ways. First, he came over to the house where his drone had died its untimely death, swearing up a storm and threatening the dog’s guardian. Second, he served the dog’s guardian with a summons to appear in small claims court. His demands were $900 to replace the drone and $300 for not being allowed access to what was left of his drone for several hours.

Suing the dog’s guardian did not go as planned for the owner of the drone. The judge did not accept claims that the dog’s guardian had purposely trained his dog to destroy the drone. Furthermore, the dog’s guardian had sought legal advice and countersued the drone owner for the costs of veterinary care for his dog ($700 for an x-ray to determine if the dog had swallowed any hazardous part of the drone, $250 to sedate the dog for that procedure, $400 for a full dental exam plus cleaning and repair, miscellaneous costs for anti-anxiety medication and wet dog food in case he had hurt his teeth and couldn’t eat his regular kibble). The guardian brought in receipts along with videos documenting the months of torture his dog endured being pursued by a drone in his own yard.

Not only did the drone owner have to pay nearly $2000 to the dog guardian, he is being investigated by the FAA for a variety of infractions. These include not registering his drone, flying a drone within five miles of an airport, flying it too close to other people, flying it out of his own line of sight and flying it far above the maximum allowable altitude. He is banned from flying a drone over the property where the dog and his guardian live.

It’s a joy to find out that the person who treated a dog (and various people) so badly not only did not get away with it, but got what he deserved

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.

photo by Julia Ballarin/Flickr


What should a dog know?

What should a dog know?

  1. He should know that he is and always will be loved completely and unconditionally.
  2. He should know that he is allowed to feel safe, at home and in public, when there are people around and in every situation he will have to face. He should be allowed to express his preferences about people and that he won’t be forced to accept any kind of contact, including physical contact, with people he doesn’t like. He should know that his human companion is there to support him and that he can feel safe to seek comfort in his presence at any time.
  3. He should know the feeling of grass under his feet. He should know the smell of game in the woods. He should be allowed to roll in mud and then run around in pure joy.
  4. He should be supported to find out what his interests are, because, you know, dogs do have their own interests, not just those we choose for them. Should he be required to ‘learn a job’, his human companion should know that he will learn, sooner or later, with lots of patience. Meanwhile he should be allowed to express his individuality without inhibitions.
  5. He should know that the world is not a dangerous place, that there are not only bad people around, that there are not only hands that beat, leashes that jerk, collars that choke and voices that yell. He should know that the world is a beautiful place, full of loving people, without any physical or verbal constriction and with many choices to make on his own. He should know that ‘being a dog’ is much more important than ‘being trained’.

What should we know?

  1. back-end-of-dogThat every dog learns at his own pace and in his own time. This will not affect the dog’s ability to perform whatever he is required to do, nor his ability to adapt to certain situations or overcome his problems and his difficulties.
  2. That the most trained dog, the one who knows more commands and tricks, the one who can do everything a dog could possibly do, is not necessarily the happiest dog. We are so focused on showing the world how good we are in training our dogs that we start showing off our puppies at such an early age: ‘Look! He’s just three months old and he already knows how to sit, lay down, stay, fetch, bring, give paw, bark on command’. But we forget that a puppy is not a miniature adult, he is just a puppy! Dogs don’t like stress – they should be allowed to experience a carefree and happy puppyhood. There is plenty of time to learn new things.
  3. That our dogs deserve to be surrounded by their natural element, nature. And they have the right to explore it. Many of us could reduce the so-called activities we perform with our dogs by 90% and replace them with healthy exploring and walks in nature, and you know what? This would probably greatly improve your relationship with your dog and make him and you happier and less stressed. Just give him a chance to be a dog, getting properly dirty and rolling around in smelly things. You can wash the dirt off and he will eventually stop stinking…or maybe you will get used to it! Give him a chance to dig a hole just for the sake of digging.
  4. That our dogs really need us more in their lives. We are so full of ourselves that we actually believe that ‘owning’ a dog is a right. Well, it’s not: – it’s a privilege! A dog is a social animal; he needs his pack, his family. He needs someone to take care of him, to take care of things. He needs quality time every day, not only during weekends. He has the right not to be left alone for twelve hours at a time and then again in the evening, because you’re going out for drinks. A dog has the right to be allowed to pee more than twice a day. He has the right to eat quality food, he has the right to sleep safe and sound, not isolated from the rest of the family, in a room or in a backyard.
  5. That our dogs have the right to be respected according to their age. Don’t jerk him around as a puppy because he won’t walk fast enough or because he stops to smell something. Don’t drag him behind you when he is old and his back is sore and his legs give way, and he is no longer in the mood for long walks. A dog has the right not to be afraid of being abandoned, because a puppy should never, ever be left home alone. He has the right not to die alone, abandoned at the vet’s, because ‘I can’t bear to watch this’. Be with him when he goes. You owe it to him.

Your dog is an individual, even before belonging to this breed or being a cross between this and that, and you should know this and he should, too.

By Federica Iacozzilli, Italy.