Wealden District Council

Noisy Dogs

Why does my dog bark?

Dogs bark - it comes naturally to them. However, constant barking, whining or howling can be annoying for neighbours. Often you can be the last to know if the problem occurs when you are out.

There are many reasons why your dog may bark:

  • Loneliness
  • Boredom or frustration
  • Seeking attention
  • Defending its territory or
  • Medical problems

How do I stop my dog barking?

Training is important so that your dog does not bark at just anything. A well trained dog should be able to tell the difference between intruders and people allowed into the house. Good training combined with affection and companionship should mean that your dog will not develop bad habits. Start young and start as you mean to go on.

Some dogs don't want to be left alone. Get your dog used to the idea that you are away for different periods of time at different times of the day. That way he might not be concerned each time you leave. Don't make a fuss of your dog before you leave.

Try putting your dog on his own in another room - at first for a few minutes, then gradually build up the time you leave your dog alone. Do not return to your dog until he has been quiet for a while - when you return, praise him.

Some dogs bark because they want to join in with activities going on outside. If this is a problem, try leaving your dog in a room with the curtains closed so that he cannot see outside.

Some dogs will only settle if they can hear a human voice. Leaving a radio on low volume might help. But make sure the radio is not too loud - you don't want to receive complaints about that!

Try not to leave your dog for long periods. If you have to, see if there is someone who can look in during that time, take him for a walk etc.

If you have to leave your dog for long periods:

  • Feed and exercise him before you go out and leave him some fresh water
  • Make sure his bed or basket is comfortable and leave him his favourite toys
  • Check that the room is not hot or too cold and that there is adequate ventilation and
  • If you're not coming back until after dark - leave a light on.

If you keep your dog outside, think carefully about where to put his kennel and where he can run. Try not to put it near your neighbour's fence or where your dog will be tempted to bark.

If nothing works, ask your vet. Sometimes a dog will bark because he's ill - anxiety is often a cause of barking.

Getting a second dog for company probably won´t help - think about it carefully, it could add to your problems not lessen them.

I am disturbed by noise from barking dogs - what can be done about it?

Where possible have a friendly word with the dog owner concerned, it may well be that they are completely unaware of the disturbance being caused.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a way of dealing with neighbour disputes which enables those involved to reach a compromise that both parties are satisfied with. The mediators will arrange a meeting to find out what the problem is about and discuss the options available. This service is free and can avoid you having to go to Court. Mediation can assist with disputes concerning noise, pets, fences, parking, building works, abusive behaviour, etc.

What can Wealden District Council do about noise from barking dogs?

We will write and advise the dog owner that a complaint has been received concerning noise from his pet. The letter seeks to raise awareness of the problem and asks the dog owner to take steps to minimise disturbance. Your details as the person complaining are not passed on without your consent.

At the same time, you will be asked to complete a diary of disturbances to enable the officer dealing to determine whether the barking is unreasonable. If the noise remains at an unacceptable level, supported by diary sheets and witnessed by an officer from the Environmental Health Service, a formal Notice will be served on the owner. The Notice imposes a legal obligation on the dog owner to stop his dog causing a statutory nuisance by barking.

Failure to comply with a Notice is a criminal offence which carries a maximum fine of £5,000 upon conviction.

If the case did get to Court, you would be required to give evidence in support of your complaint.

How do I take my own action to stop noise from barking dogs?

  • For a number of reasons it may be difficult for the Council to help you. In this case, you may wish to consider taking your own action under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. You may wish to consider speaking to a solicitor before taking this action.
  • As an alternative to taking your own action, you can take civil action in the courts seeking an injunction to restrain the defendant from continuing the nuisance and seeking damages for loss. In order for such an action to be successful, you will have to demonstrate that the noise causes particular or special loss over and above the ordinary inconvenience suffered by the public at large or that you have an interest in land affected by the noise.

In deciding whether a particular noise amounts to an actionable nuisance, the Court has to take account of the rights of both parties. There is therefore no absolute standard. It is always a question of degree whether the noise is sufficiently serious to constitute a nuisance having regard to such matters as the neighbourhood and the time when the noise occurs. Each case is therefore decided on the individual circumstances of the allegations.

Civil action of this nature can be very expensive and anybody considering taking such action would be well advised to seek the advice of a solicitor on the case itself and the likelihood of obtaining Legal Aid for the proceedings.

If you are successful, the Court may award you costs although this is done at the Court's discretion. Even if you are awarded costs, the action may still prove to be very expensive.

Should you require further guidance on taking your own action you are advised to contact a solicitor.

Contact Rother and Wealden Environmental Health Service