Problem Pets - including Barking Dogs

One of the most common complaints we receive is about dogs that are constantly barking in a neighbourhood and causing annoyance. Here's some helpful advice for keeping your dog happy so that it doesn't bark too much.

Caring for dog so that it doesn't bark constantly


Compassion and common sense can eliminate many causes of excessive barking. A well cared for dog will generally not bark unreasonably and disturb neighbours. Dogs need enough space to move freely in an enclosed backyard. A dog should not be left on a fixed chain for long periods. If a dog has to be chained, it should be on a running chain.

  • Dogs need a place of their own. This can be a ventilated and waterproof kennel outside or an indoor area. 
  • Dogs need regular and adequate exercise according to their breed and size.
  • To prevent dogs from getting bored, give them toys to play with or a puzzle to solve such as a puzzle feeder.

Curing the barking habit 

 

If your dog is well cared for but continues to bark excessively, try:

  • removing the direct line of sight between the dog and children or animals, as looking at other animals or children may provoke barking
  • taking the dog to a recognised animal trainer to discourage bad habits
  • providing noise insulation for the kennel
  • taking the dog to the vet - they may be sick

The RSPCA website provides more information about caring for dogs.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries NSW Animal Welfare Code of Practice No 5 - Dogs and Cats in Animal Boarding Establishments provides information for caring for dogs in boarding kennels.


Have your neighbours complained to you about your barking dog?


Sometimes a neighbour may simply not like dogs and may become irritated when your dog barks every time he or she returns home or goes out into the garden. Intermittent barking like this does not fall under the legal umbrella of excessive barking, but it can create tension between neighbours.

Your dog may just be unaware of its territorial limits and feel its territory extends to other neighbouring properties or it may feel its territory has been encroached. One way to handle this is to reassure and train your dog that your neighbour's presence does not pose a threat. If the neighbour is willing, you may also want to introduce your dog to them and let the neighbour demonstrate that they pose no threat to you or your pet. If the neighbour is hesitant to cooperate, point out the legal requirement that an attempt to settle any dispute must be made before a complaint will formally be initiated. More information on better ways to handle conflict.

If your neighbour/s approach you with a complaint, it is better for you to exercise discretion and be open than to become defensive. If your dog barks excessively, it is often a sign of stress and you will want to take steps to fix the problem. It may be caused by:

  • Too little exercise    
  • Not enough human companionship    
  • Boredom    
  • Limited space in the yard or being housebound    
  • Lack of food or water

If you've been neglecting to take your dog for walks or to play with it, give it more "quality time". Giving your dog a "course of study" with a dog training and obedience teacher may be the best thing to do if you cannot control your dog's barking. It is best for everyone, your dog included, to resolve noise from a barking dog problem.

For more information and resources on how you can look after your dog to prevent excessive barking, visit the EPA website. This website also explains the law applying to noise from dogs and provides information that is intended to make life better for dogs, dog owners and their neighbours.


Noisy dogs and the law


If you are annoyed by the noise from your neighbour's dog, there are several things you can do.

These are the steps you should follow:

1. Talk to the dog's owner

The dog's owner may not have realised their dog is bothering you, and will often be happy to work with you to solve the problem.

2. Contact a Community Justice Centre

If the problem persists, you may contact a Community Justice Centre (CJC).

These government-funded, but independent centres, specialise in settling differences between neighbours through mediation where you meet with the dog's owner and a CJC representative to try and solve the problem. This process will not cost you any money and has a high success rate.

3. Contact us at Council

If mediation is unsuccessful and the noise problem persists, the next step is to contact us at council. We will ask you to provide the following evidence about your complaint by filling in the Barking Dog Diary

If, after examining the evidence, we believe your complaint needs investigating, we will visit the property where the dog is kept. If we believe the dog is a nuisance, we will contact the owner of the animal and warn them that we intend to issue a nuisance order under the Companion Animals Act 1988. The dog owner may also object to the proposed order, but must submit their objection in writing within 7 days. If that happens, the council officer will consider the objection and decide whether to issue the order.

If no objection is made or the Council officer decides that the order is warranted, then a Nuisance dog order (final) is issued and remains in force for 6 months. Once a Nuisance dog order (final) is issued the order is not subject to any further appeal or review process. There are significant fines can be applied for non-compliance with the order.

Download a Complaint form and Barking Dog Diary

4. Seek a prevention notice

Under section 96 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, a Council officer can issue the owner of a noisy dog with a prevention notice. The notice may direct the owner to

  • provide the dog with regular food and water
  • give the dog sufficient space and freedom
  • provide the dog with adequate shelter
  • take action to prevent the dog from barking excessively

The notice can also apply where there are several dogs and a specific noisy dog cannot be identified.

The prevention notice has a 21-day appeal period.

Council officers can issue on-the-spot fines of $750 to individuals ($1500 to corporations) who breach a notice.

If proceedings are taken to a local court, and the offender is prosecuted, they may be liable for a maximum penalty of $250,000 and a further $60,000 for each day the offence continues.

5. Seek a noise abatement order

If you want to take action independently of the council, you can seek a noise abatement order under section 268 of the POEO Act from the local court.

Information about seeking noise abatement orders


More information: EPA Brochure on dealing with barking dogs


What if a false complaint is made?


Making a false report (for whatever reason) may result in civil court action being taken against the complainant for a false declaration.