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Barking dogs

Barking is a natural behaviour of dogs and is one way they communicate.

Council understands that in some cases, barking dogs can become a community issue. This can occur when a number of neighbours complain about the same barking dog.

As a dog owner, you are responsible for making sure your dog doesn't create a nuisance by barking excessively.

If a barking dog is affecting you, there are steps you can take to help resolve the issue.

There are many reasons dogs bark. If the barking is causing a problem because it's excessive, attempting to understand and address some of the reasons dogs bark can help. Some negative causes include:

  • the dog is fixed to a point with restricted movement for long periods of time
  • people - or roaming dogs - deliberately or unintentionally provoking the dog
  • lack of exercise
  • no shelter or kennel
  • seeking attention
  • lack of water or food
  • loneliness and/or boredom
  • ill health
  • the dog is anxious or unhappy
  • competition among neighbouring dogs and cats, especially where there is little separation between the animals
  • kept in circumstances that are unsuitable for that particular breed of dog
  • excited and/or are protecting their property.

Other factors that could cause dogs to bark, include:

  • birds
  • possums
  • neighbours' activities
  • sirens and alarms
  • uninvited visitors
  • storms and thunder
  • moving house.

These causes should not be part of a dog's life. Chronic, excessive barking could suggest a distressed dog - and will also disturb your neighbours.

Step 1: Talk to your neighbour

Contact your neighbour or owner of the barking dog to discuss your concerns.

Your neighbour may not realise their dog is bothering you or others in the neighbourhood. They may also be happy to work with you to resolve the issue. As a first step, you should discuss the dog’s barking with your neighbour and explain that it's a problem for you. This could help your neighbour to find the best way to address the issue.

Step 2: Contact the Community Justice Centre

If the barking continues after you've discussed the matter with your neighbour, contact the Community Justice Centre (CJC). The CJC provides a free mediation service. The NSW Government funds this service to help the community resolve issues or disputes without going to court. The service also has a very high success rate.

You can contact the CJC on:

If you don't have any success with mediation through the CJC, they can provide documents you can use to:

  • apply for a Noise Abatement Order
  • help Council's Rangers to investigate the matter.

Apply for a Noise Abatement Order

You can apply to the local court for a Noise Abatement Order. If the court believes the barking dog is causing offensive noise, or that the noise is likely to recur, the court may order the dog's owner to:

  • stop the noise within a specified time
  • prevent the noise from recurring.

You'll find a sample Application for a Noise abatement Order on Legal Aid NSW's website.

Step 3: Contact Council

If you've taken steps to resolve the matter and they have failed, contact Council to address the matter. These steps include obtaining:

  • all documents from the CJC dispute resolution process
  • the details of all parties involved
  • written statements from more than one neighbour affected by the barking dog.

We will then investigate the matter and advise all parties of the outcome.

Council will need to determine whether it can take action based on the evidence, that the noise from barking:

  • occurs persistently
  • continues to such a degree or extent that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person
  • represents a wider public nuisance affecting many residents and is not a private dispute between two parties.

Step 4: Nuisance Orders

The Companion Animals Act 1998 regards persistent barking in a similar way to straying or other dog anti-social behaviour. If we identify a serious or ongoing problem with barking, we may issue a Nuisance Order. This order requires the owner to stop the dog from barking persistently.

If Council issues you with a Nuisance Order and your dog continues to bark, you may be liable for a fine. For the benefit of yourself, your neighbour, and the health and wellbeing of your dog, it's important that you stop it barking excessively. Most of the time, you can do this through training, and by ensuring your dog is well nourished, exercised regularly, and not bored.

Here are some things you can try if you feel your dog is well cared for, but continues to bark excessively:

  • If your dog barks because it misses you, look at providing more exercise, socialisation, stimulation and company.
  • Give your dog adequate space to roam in your backyard.
  • Investigate - do the things you normally would, but quietly return home so your dog is unaware of your presence.
  • Take your dog to the vet - it may be sick or suffering from anxiety issues.
  • Give your dog some interactive toys to play with.
  • Play with your dog and provide 'dog time' when you're home - your dog is a pack animal and needs socialisation and environmental enrichment.
  • Ensure your dog has plenty of food, water and shelter from the sun and rain.
  • If your dog barks when anything moves near the yard, look at the possibility of a solid fence - which cuts off the dog's view of the outside world - or put-up shade cloth.
  • If your dog barks because it's scared of other people or things, it may need to attend obedience classes. You could also familiarise it with certain items eg, a lawn mower.
  • If your dog barks because it's bored, you may need to take it for extended walks during the week; the dog will appreciate the rest when on its own.
  • Citronella collars and/or barking boxes may help to deter a dog from barking.
  • Discipline your dog - take it to obedience school or puppy preschool - and talk to your vet about what type of training courses are available.
  • Keep your dog inside or confined to the garage at night.

You can also find some useful suggestions on RSPCA's website, including training tips for excessive barking.

Please remember that most people don't like to complain. If they do, it's likely they have put up with the problem for a while hoping it would resolve itself. It's important to respect their complaint - your dog is your responsibility.