Barking dogs

 Small dog barking

Dogs that bark excessively can be a source of great irritation for neighbours.

This page will give you information that may help if you have a problem with your neighbour’s dog, or if you own dog is barking too much.

My neighbour's dog is barking excessively

Try talking to the dog's owner clearly and politely about the problem first.

They may not even be aware of the problem if the dog is only barking when they are out. You may be able to help them identify why the dog is barking.

Assist them by giving them this information. If they are unapproachable or you are not comfortable approaching them, try placing the 'Dear Neighbour' letter contained in this information.

The Dispute Settlement Centre provides free advice to help neighbours sort out problems such as barking dogs, phone 1300 372 888.

If all communication and approaches with your neighbour has failed, you can lodge a complaint with your local council.

Council may ask you to keep a diary for a few weeks, to record how often the dog is barking. This is so they can determine whether the barking is causing an unreasonable disturbance. You may also have to get support for your complaint from another neighbour who is affected by the barking dog.

Council may then issue a warning to the dog's owner, or a formal Notice to Comply to stop the barking. If this is not complied with, council can issue an infringement notice. If the problem still persists, council may proceed with legal action and seek a Court Order.

Do you have a dog that barks?

Barking is a natural behaviour for dogs; it is one way they communicate. But excessive barking is often a sign that something is 'wrong'. The first step in solving the problem is to determine why your dog is barking.

Common reasons why your dog may bark:

  • Boredom — due to lack of physical or mental stimulation, exercise or company.
  • Separation anxiety - being anxious when separated from family members.
  • Seeking attention.
  • Protecting territory — in response to people or other animals within or approaching its territories, it could be any passerby in the area surrounding its home.
  • Fear — due to (thunder, fireworks, or other loud noises).
  • Medical conditions — in response to pain or a painful condition due to illness or injury.
  • Physical needs — (hungry or thirsty).

How to solve the problem

The first step it is to determine the type of bark your dog is expressing. The following questions can help you to decide on why your dog is barking.

  • When and where does the barking occur?
  • Who or what is the target of the barking?
  • What things (objects, sounds, animals or people) trigger the barking?

Depending on why your dog is barking, you may need to:

  • Take your dog to veterinarian if it is sick or injured. Be reminded that always rule out medical reasons before any attempts to modify dog’s behaviour.
  • Take the dog on more frequent walks (once or twice daily) and include it on family outings, so it can explore the outside world more.
  • Provide the dog with toys puzzles and play tricks with it to enhance mental stimulation and reduce boredom.
  • If your dog has separation anxiety, counterconditioning might reduce or resolve the problem. Counterconditioning is a treatment process that changes an animal’s fearful, anxious or aggressive reaction to a pleasant, relaxed one instead. Talk to your vet, animal behaviouralist or trainer to get more information.
  • Remove or avoid the cause of fear, e.g. reduce volume of television. If the source of fear is unavoidable, counterconditioning might help desensitising the cause of fear.
  • If the dog is barking at passers-by or other animals, block its view of movement outside the property with solid fencing, shade cloth or hedging. Alternatively, if the source of provocation is a human (eg children teasing the dog), try to discuss the problem with them.

Training your dog

If you need help with dog training, ask your local council, vet or shelter for advice. They may be able to suggest an obedience club, a dog trainer or an animal behaviour specialist. Or search 'Dog Training' online or in the yellow pages.

It is important to remember that training takes time and persistence, and that you should never hit your dog.

Seek professional advice from a dog trainer or behaviourist.

Page last updated: 06 Jul 2020