Just as humans communicate with each other by speaking, laughing and other means of expression, barking is one way that dogs communicate. While barking is natural, when a dog barks excessively it can be very annoying for neighbours. So what can you do if you have issues with your neighbours barking dog?
Talk to the owner
The first step in resolving a barking dog issue is to speak to the owner of the dog directly. In many instances a dog owner may not be aware of their dog’s behaviour, particularly if barking tends to occur when they are not at home, or the impact it is having on you. Most dog owners are happy to work with their neighbours to solve the problem.
If you are not comfortable speaking to the dog’s owner directly about the issue, Council has developed a template letter which you can print, fill in and provide anonymously to the owner.
If you are the owner of dog with barking issues, information to assist you in establishing why your dog is barking and what you can do to try to stop this behaviour is available in the EPA Barking Dog Brochure.
Contact a Community Justice Centre
If the problem persists after you have spoken to the dog’s owner and given them a reasonable period of time to try to stop their dog from barking excessively, you may contact a Community Justice Centre (CJC).
CJCs provide independent services specialising in settling differences between neighbours through mediation. During mediation you will meet with the dog’s owner and a CJC representative to try to solve the problem. This process will not cost you any money and has a high success rate.
If the problem persists after mediation with the dog’s owner, you may contact Council. In order for Council to be able to take action, you must provide evidence that the barking is sufficiently persistent and ongoing to constitute nuisance under the Companion Animals Act 1998. Please note that isolated/one-off incidents are not considered to be nuisance under the Act and therefore Council cannot take action in these circumstances.
You can provide the required evidence by keeping a Barking Dog Diary for a period of 14 days. Instructions for completing the Barking Dog Diary are provided on page one of the diary. Please ensure you follow these instructions carefully as diaries that are completed incorrectly will not meet Council’s standard of evidence requirements.
When you have completed the Barking Dog Diary, make sure you complete the declaration on the last page of the diary and a Barking Dog Complaint Form. You must provide the completed complaint form and diary to Council within seven days of date of the last entry recorded in the diary.
If, after reviewing the evidence provided, Council officers believe your neighbour’s dog is causing nuisance by barking excessively, Council will commence formal regulatory action to resolve the problem with the dog’s owner. This will involve two steps:
1. Probation period
Council will contact the dog’s owner to discuss the issue and formally request their cooperation to ensure that they are complying with their obligations under the Companion Animals Act. The dog’s owner will be given a reasonable period of time to try to stop their dog from barking excessively.
Council will actively monitor the dog’s behaviour during this period to establish if the nuisance is continuing. As Council officers cannot monitor a dog all the time, you and/or your neighbours may also be requested to keep another Barking Dog Diary during this period to assist Council to establish if the nuisance is continuing.
2. Compliance period
If Council’s monitoring efforts and/or additional barking dog diaries provided by you and/or your neighbours demonstrate a continuing nuisance, Council will send the dog’s owner a Notice of Intention to Issue a Nuisance Dog Order. The dog’s owner will have seven days to object to the proposed order. If no objection is received, Council will proceed to issue the Nuisance Dog Order which will remain in effect for six months. This Order is a Council direction and must be complied with.
Again, Council will actively monitor the dog’s behaviour during this period to ensure compliance with the Nuisance Dog Order. You may also be requested to keep another Barking Dog Diary during this period to assist Council to establish if the dog’s owner is complying with the Order.
If a verifiable breach of the Nuisance Dog Order occurs during the compliance period, Council will issue the dog’s owner with a penalty notice. Dog owners are liable for a fine of up to $880 for the first offence and $1650 for the second and each subsequent offence.
If three or more verifiable breaches of the Nuisance Dog Order occur, Council may commence Court proceedings to obtain a Court Order requiring the dog’s owner to stop their dog from barking excessively.
If at any stage during the above process Council is unable to obtain necessary evidence that a dog is continuing to cause nuisance by excessively barking, no further action will be taken.
Seek a noise abatement order
You may also take action independently of Council by seeking a Noise Abatement Order from the local court.