Advice for Owners
A barking dog can be a noise nuisance. It may be the problem only occurs when the house is unoccupied and so it is not known about until a complaint is made.
Almost all dogs bark occasionally for a few moments, for example when being let out after a period indoors, when people approach the front door or occasionally when people walk past the house or garden. However, dogs which howl or bark frequently and loudly for longer periods can be much more of an annoyance to neighbours, especially if it happens early in the morning or at night.
The majority of noise complaints are about dogs which bark when left alone, due to boredom. This can happen when left both indoors and in the garden.
Why Dogs Bark
Dogs are pack animals and need the security of a family group. Pet dogs regard their owners as a substitute family and can soon become distressed when left alone.
There are many reasons why your dog may bark:
- boredom or frustration
- attention seeking
- territory defending
- medical problems
Training is important so that your dog does not bark unnecessarily. A well trained dog should be able to tell between people allowed into the house and intruders. Good training combined with affection and companionship should mean that your dog will not develop bad habits. Start young and start as you mean to go on.
Steps that you can take
Old dogs can be taught new tricks. You may also get advice from your vet. Sometimes a dog will bark because he is ill. Anxiety is often the cause of barking. Regular veterinary health checks are advisable.
In all Cases
- stay calm and don’t punish your dog
- get your dog used to the idea that you are away for different periods of time at different times of the day. That way he might not be so concerned each time you leave the house
- don’t make a fuss of your dog when you leave him
- feed and exercise him before you go out, and leave him some fresh water
- try not to leave your dog for long periods. If you have to, see if there is someone who could visit, take your dog for a walk, or let him out into the garden
- make sure his bed or basket is comfortable, and leave him his favourite toys
- if your dog is inside check that the room is not too hot or too cold and that there is adequate ventilation and if you aren’t coming back until after dark, leave a light on
- leave an old item of clothing with your dog which smells of you
Inside the House
- try putting your dog on his own in another room for a few minutes, and gradually build up the time you leave your dog alone. Do not return to your dog until he is quiet for a period. When you return, praise him
- some dogs will bark because they want to join in what’s going on outside. If this is the problem, try leaving your dog so that he cannot see outside.
- some dogs will settle only if they can hear a human voice. Leaving a radio on at low volume might help, but make sure the radio is not too loud. You don’t want to have complaints about that!
Outside the House
- think carefully about where you put his kennel and where he can run
- try not to put it near your neighbour’s fence, where he can see the road, or anywhere else where your dog will be tempted to bark
- ensure the garden is completely secure to prevent your dog from straying locally and causing problems to neighbours.
What if your dog has been complained about?
Contact by Neighbours
If the noise your dog is making is upsetting your neighbours, you should try talking things over with them. Stay calm, and try to see it from their point of view. Perhaps they’re working shifts, or they have a baby or small children. They might also be worried about whether the dog is . Find out when your dog is barking and for how long.
When you’re at home, make a note of when and why your dog is barking.
Keep a note of what steps you are taking, and regularly review if they are working.
Co-operate with neighbours as far as is reasonable, and follow this advice to control the problem so as to avoid formal action by the Council.
Contact by Council
Remember if you have a dog and it is causing a nuisance, YOU have a legal obligation to control the problem. Excessive barking can be considered a nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
It is generally a very good idea to take part actively in Mediation (free of charge within Dudley) if offered by the Council.
The Council is required to investigate complaints of noise nuisance which includes excessive barking (or howling or whining) of dogs that occurs on a regular basis. The Council can serve an Abatement Notice that legally requires the owner of the dog to take action to stop the barking. If a person fails to comply with a Notice, the Courts may impose a fine of up to £5000.
For more information and advice about why your dog barks and what you can do about it:
Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC)
PO Box 46, Worcester WR8 9YS Tel: 01386 751151 Web: www.apbc.org.uk
The following links also provide very helpful information