Barking is one of the ways that dogs communicate. Excessive barking can be very annoying for neighbours.
A dog is regarded as a nuisance if it creates a noise, by barking or otherwise, which persistently occurs or continues to such a degree that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in surrounding homes.
Why do dogs bark?
Some of the main reasons dogs bark are:
- Playfulness and excitement
- Boredom or lack of stimulation, both mental and physical
- Medical conditions such as an illness or discomfort
- Lack of training and exercise
- Inadequate yard space
- Inadequate shelter from weather conditions e.g. thunder, wind and unusual sounds
- Not enough human companionship
- Hunger or thirst
- Changes to family structure/separation anxiety that can lead to destructiveness, howling or escaping
- Movement outside the dog's property
Dogs also bark to alert their owners of trouble, such as someone entering the property or perhaps a fire. Remember, a dog's idea of an intruder may differ to that of the owner. It could include cats, possums, other dogs, or even birds flying across the property.
While it is acceptable for a dog to bark to warn it's owner of an intruder. It is the owner's responsibility to train the dog not to bark at normal occurrences such as possums, cats and birds.
My dog is barking excessively
There are a number of ways to help reduce your dogs excessive barking, some of the ways to do this are:
- Provide your dog with space to move freely in an enclosed backyard.
- Ensure your dog has shelter from wind, rain and sunshine.
- Exercise your dog regularly.
- Look at ways to help fill your dog's day (e.g. buy a large bone, invest in several safe dog chew toys, bury dog biscuits randomly in your garden, use Kong type toys stuffed with food).
- Feed your dog sufficiently.
- Provide clean, fresh water daily.
- Undertake sufficient training.
- If a dog has to be chained, place a running chain, and ensure your dog is not left on a fixed chain for long periods.
- Provide your dog with regular attention so that it does not get lonely.
- Make sure that you do not reward your dog for barking too much. Don't give the dog attention when it is barking, instead give the dog attention when the dog is quite.
- If the dog is barking at people and noises on the other side of the fence, move the dog to another part of the yard, or put up a barrier to keep the dog away from the area, or block the view.
- If the dog barks at regular disturbances such as children walking to and from school or the rubbish trucks, keep the dog inside or in an enclosed area at these times.
- Attend an accredited dog obedience training facility.
- Try to exercise your dog before you have to leave, some owners also try to exercise their dog during the middle of the day, for example organize a reputable dog walker as this can help tire out dogs and reduce anxiety
- When walking your dog on leash, take different routes and visit new places as often as possible so that your dog can experience novel smells and sights.
I have tried all the above options to reduce my dog barking, what now? If you feel that the dog is well cared for, but continues to bark excessively, there are several things that you can try:
- Install a dog door so the dog can go inside and outside.
- Use an approved anti-barking device.
- Take the dog to the vet as it may be sick or have an underlying condition.
I would like to make a complaint about a barking dog
Residents have the right to enjoy peace and quiet in their neighbourhood without animals causing a nuisance. Animal owners have a responsibility to ensure that their animals do not cause a nuisance.
If you have a problem with your neighbour's dog barking excessively, you should consider approaching the neighbour amicably in person or by letter to advise them that the dog is causing a nuisance as this usually resolves the issue directly. This is because the owner of the dog may not be aware their animal is causing a nuisance, especially if the dog is barking when they are not home. Resolving the issue with your neighbour will avoid the need to become involved in any legal processes which can be time consuming and damage the relationship with your neighbour.
You should also consider seeking advice from the Dispute Settlement Centre who provide professional assistance in the mediation of nuisance disputes between neighbours, at no cost.
To lodge a complaint with Council, a seven day barking diary needs to be completed to keep records of barking patterns and to register your complaint. Please complete a Barking dog Complaint Form and send into Council.
When completing the seven day barking diary, please ensure that is done with as much detail as possible.