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 is some helpful advice for keeping your dog happy so that it doesn't bark too much.

Caring for your 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 approaches you with a complaint, you should exercise discretion and be open rather than becoming 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 have 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 to 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. Wait a few weeks

It is always a good idea to talk to your neighbour first if you are experiencing a dog in a nearby property is upsetting you. They may not be aware that their dog's barking is causing problems for you. In most cases, pet owners are willing to co-operate and do the right thing. If this approach doesn't work, move on to step 2. If the owner is still unwilling to cooperate, it's time to move on to step 3.

3. Contact a Community Justice Centre

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

These government-funded, 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.

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.