We receive numerous domestic noise complaints each year, and noise from barking dogs is one of the most common.
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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 local authorities can take action to stop it. If you are affected by this type of noise you can make a complaint to the council who will investigate. Please see our noise nuisance page for how to make a complaint.
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. Dogs will not usually bark when their owners are present. The owners may, therefore, be unaware of the problem until someone complains.
Dogs can sometimes resort to destructive behaviour, continuous barking, or howling when there is no one around to stop them.
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 regard their owners as their substitute family. Some dogs may become very distressed if left alone for long periods.
Barking obviously has its advantages, when drawing attention to intruders, for example. However, if the barking is prolonged, this can become extremely tiresome and irritating to owners, neighbours, and anyone else within earshot.
What can you 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.
17 Smith Square
or is downloadable as pdf files from www.gov.uk
For information on animal behaviour and training, contact:
Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC)
PO Box 46
or visit www.apbc.org.uk/
For further advice or information contact us by:
Letter or in person at:
Environmental Health Team
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council
Telephone: 01256 844844