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 was conducted in 2008 to quantify what levels of barking could be described as a nuisance:
**Barking can be considered excessive if it exceeds;
- 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.
We refer to these figures as a guide only and many extenuating factors can affect the problem such as the layout of the property, the acoustics of the area, where the dog is kept, other background noise and the time of day etc.
Council officers will investigate each report and use a variety of tools to determine if the noise is causing a unreasonable interference with the comfort or convenience of another person. These tools include informing the dog owner of the report and providing suggestions as to how to alleviate the issue. Officers may also collect noise diaries from the person making the report and other surrounding neighbours that may be affected, and collect sworn statements and sound recordings.
Compliance notices and infringement notices may be issued and court action may also be taken if enough supporting evidence is obtained to support the allegations and the owner has failed to reduce the barking levels.
In the majority of cases, informing the owner of the problem and making some suggestions has led to a rapid and peaceful solution. Exercise and training has shown to be extremely beneficial in reducing a dog's anxiety and therefore reducing the barking levels.
** Published in the AIAM Annual Conference on Urban Animal Management 2008 from research conducted by Peter Madden and Associates, Acoustic Engineers
You can lodge a report with Council's Customer Service, you must know where the dog lives and you must provide your personnel details. These details will never be passed on to the dog owner without your consent.
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. In many cases, this is all that is required to solve the problem. The investigating officer will then contact you again after around 7 days to ascertain if the situation has improved or not.
Report a problem
If the barking does not stop after the investigating officer 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 the investigating officer or a person authorised to witness affidavits. You will also be given barking diaries to record the times, duration and frequency of the barking to document the level continuing level of nuisance being caused.
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, or even recording the noise level from inside your house.
Once a minimum standard of evidence is obtained indicating that a substantial nuisance is being caused, the investigating council officer has a range of tools at his or her disposal to address the issue. This may include:
- Issuing a notice to comply to the dog owner to eliminate the nuisance within seven days
- Issuing further noise diaries to document the barking levels after the Notice to Comply has come into effect
- Issuing an infringement notice against the owner
- Legal action against the dog owner in the Magistrates Court to seek a Nuisance Abatement Order
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 and you must be prepared to give evidence in court, should the dog owner choose to challenge the allegations you are making.