Barking Dog Complaints
Dogs are an important part of our local communities, but dogs that bark excessively can become a source of irritation for neighbours and others using the local environment.
Man’s best friend can become, if it barks continually, an intrusion and create friction between neighbours.
Coonamble Shire Council receives numerous complaints regarding nuisance noise from barking dogs. This type of complaint is generally easily solved by approaching the dog’s owner in a neighbourly manner and discussing your concerns with them. The dog’s owner may not realise that the barking is causing an annoyance to other people because:
- The dog may only bark excessively when the owner is not home.
- The owner may not hear the barking from various areas within the house.
- The owner may be a very sound sleeper and not be woken when the dog barks.
A person wishing to complain about a barking dog must provide detailed information, including an evidence form and noise diary that covers a 14-day period. This is sometimes referred to as a “bark diary”. Anonymous complaints or those without any written evidence are not investigated.
Reasons why dogs bark
Dogs bark for many reasons, and even though they “appear to be barking for no reason” they are in fact trying to communicate something to their owner or any one who is willing to pay attention. The following list provides some of the main reasons why dogs bark:
- Lack of exercise
- Inadequate yard space
- Not enough human companionship
- Inadequate shelter from weather
- Hungry or thirsty
- Medical condition
- Change to family structure
- Change to territory
- Movement outside the dog’s property
Dogs also bark to alert their owners of trouble, such as an intruder entering the property or perhaps fire. Remember that 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 its owner of an intruder, it is the owner’s responsibility to train the dog not to bark at ‘normal’ occurrences such as possums, cats, birds etc. Barking at normal movement/noises from adjoining properties should be considered unacceptable behaviour.
Have a chat first
Neighbours can help each other to solve barking problems by communicating with each other their concerns and needs. Neighbours can assist in identifying the reasons for excessive barking by noting what is happening in the area when the dog is barking. A neighbour may be in the position to offer to exercise a dog when its owner is unable due to work commitments, illness or other reasons.
In most cases the answers and solutions can be found between neighbours and should be sought prior to lodging a complaint with the Council.
Lodging a complaint with council
Complainants must attempt to resolve the complaint with the dog owner by using the methods outlined earlier: talk with the neighbour/owner of the nuisance dog. If that does not work, then there is a process to be followed before Council can act effectively to deal with the nuisance.
The procedure for lodging a nuisance noise complaint is as follows:
- Identify the correct address of the offending dog.
- Complete the “Barking Dog Complaint” Form.
- Keep a diary of the dog’s barking habits for a period of one (1) week noting the date, time and duration of barking, and the reason, if known, as well as the effect the dog’s barking is having on you.
- Forward the completed Barking Dog Complaint form and 14-day diary.
- Continue to keep a diary of the dog’s barking habits for a further month. This will monitor whether the problem continues or improves as a result of any action taken.
Actions to be taken by Council
Council will, upon receipt of your complaint:
- Appoint a Regulatory Officer to investigate your complaint.
- Study the diary for barking patterns to determine the reason for the dog’s barking.
- Identify whether other residents are being affected by the dog’s barking.
- Advise the dog owner of the complaint, discuss possible solutions and inform them of their responsibilities, the offences and penalties.
The Council can issue any or all of the following:
- Verbal warning to dog owner.
- Written letter of warning.
- Issue an Order to abate all nuisance noise immediately.
Should the dog owner fail to comply with the notice to abate the nuisance, Council may issue an infringement notice against the owner. If the noise complaint persists after an infringement notice has been issued, Council may proceed with legal action against the dog owner in the Local Rates Court and seek a Court Order.
Please note that an infringement notice or legal action will not be taken against the dog owner unless the complainant is prepared to give testimony in the Local Court.
If you wish to proceed with a complaint about a barking dog, please download the Complaint Form and ‘Bark Diary’ here: