Dogs that bark excessively often become a major problem in our community. Some people think it is normal for dogs to bark consistently. It isn't.
Barking dogs are a nuisance and are not conducive to good neighbourly relations. Constant barking usually means the dog is bored, lonely, frustrated or ill.
What the Law Says about Barking Dogs
The Domestic Animals Act 1994 defines animal noise nuisance as a dog (or cat) that:
“Creates a noise by barking or similar that persistently occurs or continues to such a degree or extent that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in any other premises.”
A dog owner must not allow their dog to create a nuisance.
Council takes all barking dog complaints seriously where the complaint can be substantiated. If a barking dog problem cannot be resolved, fines can be issued or the matter may be referred to court to obtain a court order requiring the dog’s owner to take action to resolve the problem.
Why Dogs Bark
Dogs can bark to alert their owners of trouble such as an intruder entering the property or perhaps a house or bush fire.
A dog's idea of an 'intruder' may differ to that of the owner. It could think cats, possums, other dogs or even birds flying across the property as 'intruders'. It is the owner's responsibility to train the dog not to bark at these regular, non-threatening 'intruders' or occasional normal domestic noises or movements in neighbouring properties.
What can be done about a Barking Dog
The Dog Owner's Neighbour
Barking dog problems can sometimes be solved by approaching the dog's owner in a neighbourly manner and discussing your concerns with them. Or you could write a politely-worded note and put it in their mailbox, if you do not feel comfortable speaking with them.
The following points need to be considered:
- The dog's owner may not realise that the barking is causing an annoyance to other people
- The dog may only bark excessively when the owner is not home
- The owner may not hear the barking from various areas within the house
- The owner may be a very sound sleeper and not be woken when the dog barks.
If you are unable to resolve the matter with your neighbour or if you do not feel comfortable contacting your neighbour, you can contact Council with as much information as possible including:
- Your name and mailing address
- Your contact phone number
- Property address where the dog is located
- When the dog barks and for how long
- The effect the barking has on your well-being.
The Dog's Owner
You should work through the above list of reasons that dogs can bark and understand and address the issue.
As many dogs behave differently when their owners are away from home, you may also consider monitoring your dog by using one of many recording applications that are available on the Internet for smart phones and tablet devices. A search of the Internet for barking dog monitor should provide a few choices.
You can use apps to record your dog while you are not at home and then be able to assess the extent of the issues. If you need some advice about using the apps, you can contact Council for further help.
Other useful information:
If a barking dog complaint is made to Council, we will:
- Contact the dog owner in writing to:
- Advise them that a complaint has been received and ask that they monitor their dog to assess the extent (if any) of the barking.
- Provide information about barking nuisance and our process.
- Send them barking dog behaviour information.
- Ask them to contact council.
- Further information and advice if required.
NOTE: A period of 14 days is generally allowed for the dog owner to firstly assess the issue, and to take action to make improvements if necessary.
- Contact the person making the complaint in writing
- Advising them of Council's processes and provide further information.
- Supplying them with a Complaint form which includes a Log of Nuisance form.
- Advising them that we have contacted the dog owner.
- Advising them that if, after an initial period of approximately two weeks, the issues have not improved, to contact Council to advise of the situation and return the completed Log of Nuisance to council for further investigation.
AFTER the letters have been sent:
- If after a week or so from receiving Council’s letter the person making the complaint believes the barking behaviour has not improved, the complainant will need to advise Council, complete the log of nuisance forms for another 10 to 14 days and return the completed forms to council.
- Once Council receives the completed forms, contact is made with both the dog owner and the resident affected to discuss the matter further.
- Unless the Council receives the complaint form and logs in writing, then Council may not be able to help any further. These are required for Council to determine the best course of action with the dog owner. Council cannot act on repeated phone complaints.
NOTE: Council Officers do not get involved in neighbour disputes and may conduct their own investigation to substantiate a nuisance complaint objectively without taking one person’s word over another.
IMPORTANT: Council does not initially tell the dog owner the identity of the resident who has complained about the barking dog. Complainants should be aware that they may be required to give evidence in Court to support their complaint should the alleged nuisance remain unresolved. At that point your identity will become known to the dog owner.