Barking is one way dogs communicate and can mean anything from playfulness to danger. Complaints about barking dogs are one of the most common calls made to Council's Rangers. Many dog owners are not aware that, while they are not at home, their dog may be nuisance barking and disturbing the neighbours. According to the Companion Animals Act 1998, a dog is a nuisance if the dog:
"makes a noise, by barking or otherwise, that 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".
There are a number of common reasons why dogs bark. Some dogs bark because they are:
Chronic or excessive barking is a sign that something is wrong and can be a nuisance to others in the community. Sometimes stopping a dog from barking can be as simple as taking care of their basic needs.
Owners of dogs have responsibilities under the Companion Animals Act 1998 and the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, to ensure their dogs do not exhibit nuisance behaviour or emit offensive noise.
1. Clearly identify the location of the barking dog. Remember noise can travel in different directions and it is easy to mistake which dog is the problem. To ensure its correct identity, you should be able to visually see the dog, not just hear it.
2. Approach the dog owner as soon as the barking becomes a nuisance. It is important to remember that some dog owners find it extremely difficult to believe their dog is barking when they are not home. You should tell the owner:
- the dates, times and duration of the dog barking,
- the reason you believe causing the dog to bark, if known,
- where the dog is barking (e.g. the front or back of the house),
- the effect the barking is having on your life, and
- any other relevant information to assist the dog owner in dealing with the problem.
3. You should remember that, while the dog barking may be disrupting your life, the dog owner will need time to deal with the problem. Your support and information will greatly assist the dog owner to solve the problem.