Barking is a necessary method of communication for dogs. Excessive barking however is usually caused by an animal that is socially deprived, distressed or suffering, poorly trained, is provoked, or has a boring or sedentary lifestyle.
Cases where a dog is barking because of neglect or cruelty should be referred immediately to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). For more information in relation to issues associated with cruelty or neglect please refer to their website.
Advice for Owners
The most important step that can help prevent barking is to identify why the dog is barking. In cases where dogs bark because of lack of exercise, poor health or diet, boredom, or social deprivation these issues must be addressed. It is important to prevent a dog from excessive barking before it forms a pattern of habitual barking.
The following suggestions will help prevent a dog from developing barking habits:
- Choose the right breed of dog for your lifestyle. Large dogs or working breeds in small backyards are prone to boredom and lack of exercise, which may lead to barking and other problems.
- Provide adequate space for your pet to move freely within your enclosed backyard.
- Dogs should not be chained to a fixed point. If chaining is necessary then put the animal on a running chain.
- Keep your dog in an enclosed area in the backyard or inside the house during the night and inclement weather.
- Provide your dog with a balanced and varied diet, and access to water at all times.
- Provide regular and adequate exercise according to the breed‘s requirements.
- Examine your dog regularly for minor ailments and injuries, and take them to your local veterinarian for regular checkups.
- Take your dog to obedience training as this provides your animal with interesting challenges.
- Spend time with your dog. Dogs are pack animals and need social interaction with their owners and if possible other dogs.
For animals that habitually bark the following prevention methods may be attempted:
Professional dog behaviorists can provide specialist training and instruction to discourage habitual barking. Contact Royal NSW Canine Council or Australian Veterinarian Association.
Anti Barking Collars
These can be useful in preventing your dog from excessive barking, however to be effective they should be used in conjunction with other methods of barking abatement. Anti-barking collars will not prevent a dog from habitual barking if the cause of the barking is not identified and remedied.
Anti-barking collars are generally available from vets and pet shops.
This option is not recommended as it involves the surgical removal of the animals’ vocal chords and permanently hinders the dog from communicating (barking) but does not render the animal silent. Debarking of dogs is illegal in NSW unless the provisions of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1986 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 are followed. A veterinarian will only perform this procedure in extreme cases where no other method other than euthanasia is available. Contact the Australian Veterinarian Association.
Barking Dogs and the Law
See the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, 1997.
Section 21 of the Companion Animals Act makes provisions for a dog to be declared a nuisance if the animal 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. If an authorised officer from Council is satisfied that a dog is a nuisance, an order can be issued requiring the owner of the dog to prevent the dog‘s behavior that is causing the nuisance. The order remains in force for a period of 6 months after it is issued.
Reporting Noise from Barking Dogs
If you are experiencing offensive noise being caused by your neighbours’ dog, there are a number of things you can do. Before contacting Council you should attempt to bring your complaint to the attention of the dog owner. They may not even know that their dog is barking and causing you a problem.
If this approach fails to resolve the issue, you should contact your local Community Justice Centre. These are independent government funded centers that can provide help to resolve disputes through an arbitration service.
To notify Council of a dog/s causing a noise nuisance due to continuous barking please contact Council‘s Compliance Team on 9978 4081, and the support team will lodge a customer request.
To assist the Ranger with this request the officer will require your details, the address where the dog is usually kept, a description of the dog, and the times when you have seen (to identify) the dog barking.
In some cases a log book will be provided to you to record the barking dog behaviours over a period of time to assist with the investigation.