Why do dogs bark?
There are a number of common reasons why dogs bark:
- Separation anxiety – Dogs are pack animals and they can become stressed when their pack or owner leaves without them, or if they are not allowed to be part of the family such as being left outside when other family members are inside.
- Apprehension or fear – Dogs that lack confidence or are nervous will bark out of fear. Dogs are visually and/or audibly stimulated to bark. Sometimes the best remedy is simply to keep your dog inside. Your scent can help pacify them while you are away.
- Boredom – Barking, digging and chewing are common signs of a bored dog. In these cases, look at some ways to help fill your dog's day. For example, hide some of its daily food in interactive food toys, buy a large bone and tie it to a tree or a post in your backyard or investigate a dog walking service, or doggy day care.
- Territorial – Some dogs are very protective of their territory and will bark to keep away intruders. Blocking a dogs vision to the outside of the yard or creating an inner 'barrier' fence keeping them away from the fenceline can sometimes help with this behaviour.
What can Council do?
Council has powers to determine whether the behaviour of a dog is causing a nuisance and, if there is sufficient evidence, to place a nuisance order on the dog. An order lasts for six months and requires the owner to prevent the nuisance behaviour. It gives Council the ability to issue on the spot penalties of $275 each time the owner allows the behaviour to occur, or issue Court Attendance Notices if repeated penalties are issued with no improvement. The maximum penalty for 2 or more breaches of a nuisance order is $11,000.
Council can declare a dog to be a nuisance for various behaviours such as:
- Barking continuously and persistently;
- Habitually roaming the neighbourhood;
- Defecating on other people's property;
- Chasing a person, animal or vehicle;
- Causing damage to a property; and
- Endangering the health of any person on animal.
Complaints about barking are one of the most common calls regarding nuisance dogs made to the Council's Rangers. Many dog owners are not aware that while they are not at home their dog may be nuisance barking and disturbing the neighbours.
According to the Companion Animals Act 1998, a dog is a nuisance if the dog:
"makes a noise, by barking or otherwise, 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".
What to do if a barking dog is a nuisance
- Clearly identify the location of the barking dog. Remember noise can travel in different directions and it is easy to mistake which dog is the problem. To ensure its correct identity you should be able to visually see the dog, not just hear it.
- Approach the dog owner as soon as the barking becomes a nuisance. It is important to remember that some dog owners find it extremely difficult to believe their dog is barking when they are not home. You should tell the owner:
- the dates, times and duration of the dog barking,
- the reason for the dog barking, if known,
- where the dog is barking (eg the front or back of the house),
- the effect the barking is having on your life, and
- any other relevant information to assist the dog owner in dealing with the problem.
- You should remember that, while the dog barking may be disrupting your life, the dog owner will need time to deal with the problem. Your support and information will greatly assist the dog owner to solve the problem.
- Need assistance? To report a nuisance dog, or if you need advice or assistance, contact Council’s Rangers on 9391 7000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will be asked to take a log of the barking over a two week period before any action can be taken.
If the dog continues to bark excessively after the owner is made aware of the problem, Council Rangers may issue a nuisance order. A nuisance order requires the owner of the dog to stop the dog from continuing the nuisance behaviour. The order remains in force for six months. If, during this time, the owner fails to stop the animal from barking excessively, they are in breach of the order.
To issue a nuisance dog order, Council requires sufficient evidence and may need to interview other neighbouring residents to correctly identify the dog and determine the extent of the problem. When reporting a barking dog to Council, please provide the following information:
- the location of the barking dog
- the breed, colour and any distinguishing features to identify the barking dog
- the dates, times and duration of the dog barking
- the reason for the dog barking, if known
- where the dog is barking (eg the front or back of the house)
- the effect the barking is having on your life
- when you reported the barking dog to its owner
- names and addresses of other neighbours affected by the barking
- any other relevant information that will assist Council.
For more advice on barking dogs, talk to a qualified animal behaviourist or trainer.