Dogs - Nuisance

also known as: Barking dogs, Dogs barking, Noise complaint.

This page gives advice on barking dogs, methods to help avoid barking, and also how to report if you have a problem.

Reporting a Complaint

If a complaint is made to a Council, they have a duty to investigate it.

The Council may serve a Noise Abatement Notice and if the barking continues then they may prosecute under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The likely penalty is a fine.

Barking comes naturally to dogs, but the constant barking or whining of a dog can be disturbing or annoying for the neighbours. Often the problem occurs when the dog’s owner is out of the house and so the owner doesn’t know until someone complains.

In law, a barking dog can be a noise nuisance. The owner can be taken to court if he does nothing to stop the nuisance.

 

How to report a problem

You can report a problem in one of the following ways

 

Nuisance

Whilst dogs are allowed to bark, they are not allowed to bark so that it causes a nuisance.

It is a matter of fact and degree in each case and factors that may be taken into account include:

  • the volume
  • duration of the barking
  • the time of day it happens. 

Why dogs bark?

Dogs are not by nature solitary animals. They need the security of a family group. Pet dogs regard their owners as a substitute family and can soon become distressed when left alone.

There are many reasons why your dog may bark:

  • Loneliness
  • Boredom or frustration
  • Attention seeking
  • Defending his territory
  • Medical problems

The importance of training

Training is important so that your dog does not bark at just anything that moves. A well-trained dog should be able to tell between people allowed into the house and people who are intruders. Good training combined with affection and companion should mean that your dog will not develop bad habits. Start young and start as you mean to go on.

Some simple things to try

Some dogs just don’t want you to go out. Get your dog used to the idea that you are away for different periods of time at different times of the day. That way he might not be so concerned each time you leave. And don’t make a fuss of your dog when you leave him.

Try putting your dog on his own in another room at first for a few minutes, then gradually build up the time you leave your dog alone. Do not return to your dog until he is quiet for a period. When you return, praise him.

Some dogs will bark because they want to join in what’s going on outside. If this is the problem, try leaving your dog so that he cannot see outside.

Some dogs will settle only if they can hear a human voice. Leaving the radio on at low volume might help. But make sure the radio is not too loud. You don’t want to have complaints about that!

Try not to leave your dog for long periods. If you have to, see if there is someone who can look in during that time. Maybe that person could take your dog for a walk or let him out into the garden, if you have one.

  • If you have to leave your dog for long periods
  • Feed and exercise him before you go out and leave him some fresh water
  • Make sure his bed or basket is comfortable and leave him his favourite toys
  • Check that the room is not hot or too cold and that there is adequate ventilation
  • And if you aren’t coming back until after dark, leave a light on

Some other points

If you do keep your dog outside, think carefully about where you put his kennel and where he can run. Try not to put it near your neighbour’s fence or where your dog will be tempted to bark.

Don’t blame the dog and think that you will solve everything by replacing him with another. It probably will not, unless you change your lifestyle at the same time.

Getting a second dog for company might help. But think about this carefully. Do you have the space and can you afford a second dog? Another dog could result in more not less problems.

You should also go to your vet. Sometimes a dog will bark because he is ill – anxiety is often the cause of barking. You can ask your vet to refer your dog to an animal behaviourist who is an expert and can suggest ways to improve your dog’s behaviour.