ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Every time you step outside your house, your neighbor’s dog starts barking. Before you wake up in the morning, you hear the dog barking. Can you sue your neighbor, if they refuse to have the dog muzzled?

It turns out you can, on the grounds that the dog is a nuisance to the use and enjoyment of your home.

According to DogLaw, a lawsuit shouldn’t be the first approach.

First, you should try to negotiate with your neighbor, as some states may require proof that you tried to reach some type of settlement to the problem. This may include a copy of a formal demand letter sent to your neighbor.

Second, you should gather proof that the dog actually is a legal nuisance. This would include photos, witnesses, or other evidence.

Third, you should contact your local alderman about a noise complaint.

If your neighbor’s dogs are waking you up every morning while you’re still sleeping, or if the smell of feces makes it so you can’t even open your windows, you could have a claim in court.

A legal nuisance is defined as some unreasonable or unlawful condition that interferes with the use of someone’s property.

A resident would have to prove to the judge that the dogs are interfering with their use of their property; that the neighbor should compensate them for their inconvenience, annoyance and physical discomfort; and they are owed reasonable compensation.

In Illinois, the maximum amount a person can be awarded in small claims court is $5,000.