Dogs bark for a variety of reasons and it is important to find out why and then try to resolve the issue in a friendly manner wherever possible.
An owner must ensure that noise from animals owned by them does not unreasonably interfere with the comfort and peace of another person, however, 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
The Domestic Animals Act 1994 states that a dog or cat is to be regarded as a nuisance for the purposes of this section — "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".
Research has been conducted to quantify what levels of barking could be described as a nuisance. The results of this research have been trialled in magistrates court and have been accepted:
**Barking is considered excessive when it exceeds;
** Published in the AIAM Annual Conference on Urban Animal Management 2008 from research conducted by Peter Madden & Associates, Acoustic Engineers
- 240 barks per day between the hours of 7am and 9pm, or
- 35 barks per night between the hours of 9pm and 7am, or
- regularly exceeds 30 barks per hour during the day or
- 4 barks per hour during the night.
Reporting barking issues
In the first instance, try talking to the owner directly. If this doesn't resolve the issue, you can contact Council to lodge a complaint. You must know the address where the dog lives before contacting Council.
A Council Officer will then contact the owner of the dog and let them know a complaint has been received about their dog and discuss ways of addressing the alleged issue.
We ask that you monitor the barking for a few more days to give the owner an opportunity to put some of the suggestions into practice. The council officer will contact you again to see if the situation has improved or not. In many cases, this is all that is required to solve the problem.
If the barking does not stop after Council has contacted the owner, you may be asked to fill out a victim noise nuisance statement to enable council officers to take the matter further. This statement must be signed and witnessed by a Council Authorised Officer or a person authorised to witness affidavits.
If the dog owner denies there is a nuisance being caused, the investigating officer will require further evidence. This may include contacting other neighbours affected by the noise and having noise diaries filled out, or even recording the level of noise from inside your house.
Once a statement is received the investigating council officer has a range of tools at his or her disposal to address the issue. This may include:
- Issuing barking diaries to the complainant to ascertain and monitor the level of nuisance caused
- Issuing a notice to comply to the dog owner to eliminate the nuisance within a specified time
- Issuing an infringement notice against the owner
- Legal action against the dog owner in the Magistrates Court and seeking a court ordered Nuisance Abatement Notice
The investigating officer will contact you and discuss these options with you, however in order for any kind of enforcement action to be taken against the owner, a minimum standard of evidence must be obtained to prove the allegations and you must be prepared to give evidence in court, should it be required.