Barking is a normal behaviour for dogs. They bark for many reasons - it could be a warning or a sign of excitement, affection or unhappiness. However, when dogs bark excessively it can become a concern to others.
It's important to note there is a difference between a dog's normal barking and nuisance barking, as outlined in Domestic Animals Act 1994. We must rely on this definition when investigating a complaint:
"A dog... is to be regarded as a nuisance... if it creates a noise, by barking or otherwise, which 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.”
There are a number of reasons a dog may bark, including boredom, medical reasons, fear or seeking attention.
Tips to reduce barking:
Remove distractions –
- If the dog is barking at noises on the other side of a fence, move the dog away or install a barrier to keep the dog out of the area.
- If there are gaps in the fence causing the dog to bark, fill them in.
- If the dog is barking at regular occurrences such as rubbish trucks or children going to and from school, keep the dog inside or enclosed during those times.
- Should the dog be following pedestrians and noises along a fence line install a barrier to keep the dog from that area.
- If your dog can see pedestrians walking by try to block the dog’s view.
Shelter and care -
- Be sure that you provide your dog with plenty of exercise and stimulation.
- Make sure that your dog has plenty of food & water.
- Ensure that your dog has adequate shelter from the elements.
- Do not reward your dog for barking. If the dog is barking to get your attention do not let it inside or give acknowledge it. When the dog is quiet, give the dog praise & attention.
- Try to train the dog to stop barking on command. When the dog barks give it a command such as ‘cease’ and call the dog over. Reward the dog when they stop barking.
- Attend an accredited obedience trainer.
Steps to take before contacting Council
Talking to the dog owner or leaving a friendly letter in their mailbox is the first step to attempting to solve any issues. Council has a letter template(PDF, 174KB) you can use if you want to remain anonymous. Often dog owners may not be aware that their dog barks. These steps often lead to a more successful outcome for both yourself and the dog owner.
If you are unable to resolve the matter, please get in touch with Council.