Dogs bark, it's a natural behaviour and how they communicate! We understand barking can be annoying but have you ever considered why a dog barks?
Many factors can cause a dog to bark, including:
- Boredom, loneliness or a lack of enrichment
- Discomfort from fleas, worms or other irritations
- Sickness or injury
- Unsuitable yards, enclosures or kennel location
- Lack of adequate food, water, exercise or training
- Guarding or protecting property/territory or feeling threatened
- Protecting their owner or their family
- Strange or new noises or fireworks
- Thunderstorms, high altitude planes or wailing sirens
- People passing or children playing nearby
- Some dogs are genetically designed to be more likely to bark (guarding, herding, hunting)
- Reasonable barking such as when a family returns home is acceptable.
Like humans, dogs have two types of verbal communication:
- Intentional - some dogs have learned that barking works to get attention (eventually);
- Reactive - some barking is a symptom of arousal, emotional or health state.
Most barking is designed to make something go away or make something come closer.
Barking tools & useful information
- Why Your Dog Barks (PDF 503 KB)
- Handy Tips To Help Reduce Problem & Nuisance Barking (PDF 223 KB)
- Nuisance Barking: Council's response (PDF 309 KB)
- Friendly barking dog form for neighbours (PDF 231 KB)
Frequently asked questions
What if my dog is a nuisance barker?
There is no quick fix or easy solution to problem barking. Don't hit or yell at the dog as this may cause other behaviour problems. Try to identify the trigger for barking nuisance and use enrichment, exercise and training to reduce unnecessary barking behaviour.
What can I do if I live near a dog that barks excessively?
Dog owners are often not aware of their dog's barking, since it usually happens when the owner is not on the property. Firstly, try approaching the owner and explain the problem to them. It may help to provide the owner with times that the dog barks. If your neighbours are unapproachable or do not agree with your assessment, you can log a request with Council to investigate.
What will Council do when I make a complaint?
Council acts on complaint but also need to be satisfied that a noise nuisance exists. They can do this by asking you to complete barking dog records, talking to other neighbours, observing animal behaviour or using a bark count collar.
Dogs which bark excessively can be a nuisance. Your first step should be to approach the dog's owner and let them know the problem exists (they may be unaware). If you feel uncomfortable talking to the dog owner directly, Council has a friendly barking dog form for neighbours that you can place in their mailbox to make them aware of the nuisance.
A dog barking persistently can be a breach of the law. Owning or keeping a dog is controlled by state legislation - the Animal Management (Cats & Dogs) Act 2008 and Local Law No. 4 (Animal Management) 2002 and Subordinate Local Law 4.1 (Animal Management) 2002. The Act and Local Laws define what Council can do to act on and help resolve barking nuisance.
Briefly, section 2(a) and (b) of Local Law No.4.1 states:
(a) if the barking, howling or whining of the dog is made for more than a total of 6 (consecutive) minutes in any hour from 7am to 10pm on any day; or
(b) the barking, howling or whining of the dog is made for more than a total of 3 (consecutive) minutes in any 30 minute period from 10pm to 7am on any day.
In simple terms, if you feel barking nuisance exceeds these timeframes and breaches the above definition, you are entitled to log a complaint.
Tips & recommendations
Noise and barking complaints should be taken seriously however difficult they may be to investigate and resolve. It can come as quite a shock to an owner to find out their dog is barking and its not uncommon for your first reaction to be emotive. The great news is Council can provide you with tools and information about reducing dog noise problems and may, in exceptional circumstances, refer you to an expert such as a dog behaviourist.
It's not unusual for owners to immediately jump to the conclusion that we will remove their dog; this is not the case. We understand that you love your pet and in most cases, we'll work with you to resolve the issue. It can be really helpful if as an owner you are able to identify the cause (barking trigger) and take immediate action to help improve the situation. We recommend researching the needs of your dogs breed; ensuring sufficient food, water and shelter in your absence, increasing physical activity, the use of enrichment and basic training.
If possible, try to identify when your dog barks including the time, duration, location and any possible movement. This information can be used to work out why your dog barks and develop strategies to use and measure progress. Ask your neighbours to complete Dog Barking Records for a minimum of two weeks. If you're home during the day, you can record your dogs barking activity yourself.
Changing your dog's environment can also reduce their barking. We suggest:
- restricting access to areas where they would usually bark
- using visual barriers
- allow your dog inside the house
- creating 'chill out' zones
- crate training (safe space); and
- exercising your dog in the morning including brain training (lots of sniffing can be calming and tiring).
How to lodge a barking complaint
Before lodging a complaint with Council, as a first measure, try to resolve the problem amicably. Often, the dog owner may not be aware that their pet is causing a problem and may be more than happy to make changes for the benefit of all parties.
If this is unsuccessful, contact Council to lodge a customer request for 'barking nuisance':
Phone: (07) 3412 3412
Mail: P O Box 3226, Logan Central DC QLD 4114
What happens once a barking complaint is lodged?
It sounds simple, doesn't it? Contact Council, log a complaint and hopefully the barking will stop - If only it were that easy. Barking behaviour and the reasons dogs bark can be a complex issue and one that can take time to resolve. The first task for Council is to determine if the complaint is valid. Sometimes the wrong dog is accused, sometimes the complaint is the result of a neighbourhood dispute and sometimes one neighbour is overly sensitive to barking while other neighbours don't notice it. We'll also need your help to identify when and how long the dog barks including getting you to complete a Barking Dog Record for a continual two week period. Why two weeks? Two weeks is a reasonable amount of time to enable us to determine peak periods of nuisance and identify any patterns of behaviour.
Once we've received the records we can start investigating the barking nuisance. It's important to understand that each barking nuisance is unique. To assist you understand our process, please refer to our barking process flow chart.