Barking dogs

We receive numerous domestic noise complaints each year and noise from barking dogs is one of the most common.

How to report a barking dog

Under nuisance legislation, noise nuisance that might be caused by excessive and unreasonable amounts of dog barking, howling or whining can be considered a statutory nuisance and we can take action to stop it.

Report a noise nuisance

Anyone allowing their dog(s) to bark regularly and for prolonged periods, risks being served with a noise abatement notice. If the problem continues beyond that, the person responsible may be prosecuted and could received an unlimited fine.

Private individuals can also take action under the Act, by complaint to a Magistrates' Court.

Dogs at home

Complaints about barking often arise because dogs are left at home alone for most of the day. The owners may be unaware of the problem until someone complains.

It is better not to keep a dog at home, unless there is someone there to look after it. Dogs, by nature, are very sociable animals and some may become very distressed if left alone for long periods.

If barking is prolonged, this can become extremely tiresome and irritating to owners, neighbours, and anyone else within earshot.

What dog owners can do

Dogs get used to a routine. Provided they have been well-exercised before you go out, they will sleep until you come back. If you or a friend cannot exercise them regularly you may wish to employ a dog walker.

Dog psychologists have developed occupational toys for dogs, which they claim can keep bored dogs amused while their owners are absent. It may be better to keep a dog if it is only left alone for short periods.

If you have to leave your dog outside, make sure the kennel is not near a neighbour's fence, or another place where it will be tempted to bark for example next to a street where people are passing.

It is also thought that leaving a radio on during the day will keep a dog occupied, particularly a station with more talking than music. Remember to put the volume at a reasonable level, otherwise you may solve one nuisance but create another!

Talk to your vet. Sometimes a dog will bark because he is ill or anxious. Your vet will check for any problems, or may refer you to an animal behaviourist who can suggest ways to improve your dog's behaviour.

As a last resort, anti-bark collars are an alternative solution. The collar is activated by the barking and releases a spray of lemon mist in front of the dog's nose. This is harmless to dogs and humans, but is sufficient to distract the dog and stop it barking. These devices can quickly train a dog to stop barking. You should consult your vet beforehand as some collar are considered unsuitable by the RSPCA.

Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety which means that they cannot bear to be parted from their owners, and often exhibit problem behaviour such as barking and howling when left alone. Please read the below 'Alone at Home leaflet' which gives advice on how to deal with separation anxiety in dogs.

The 'Barking dogs' leaflet below provides information and advice on how to be a responsible dog owner, and how to avoid difficulties with dogs barking excessively, and causing a disturbance to your neighbours.

Further information

'Is your dog barking too much? guidance document' and 'Constant barking can be avoided guidance document' are available from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) at:

Nobel House
17 Smith Square

The pdf files are also available to download from the GOV.UK website

For information on animal behaviour and training, contact:

Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC)
PO Box 46

or visit the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) website

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For further advice or information:

Send a message to the Environmental Health team

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