It’s normal and natural for dogs to bark, but when it happens frequently or for a long time it can be annoying and upsetting for your neighbours. Often, this problem occurs when the owner is out of the house and does not realise there is a problem.
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, a barking dog can be a "statutory noise nuisance". An owner could be taken to court if nothing is done to stop the nuisance.
Below you will find information which may help to reduce barking and resolve issues with your neighbours.
Talking it over
If your dog barking is upsetting your neighbours, the first step is to talk things over with them. Stay calm and try to see it from their point of view, and bear in mind you might not know how serious the problem is if your dog is barking more when you’re not at home
Training your dog
There are some simple steps you can take straight away to cut down the amount of noise your dog is making. This will help calm the situation between you and your neighbours, and give you time to work out why your dog is barking:
- Keep your dog away from the front of your home, screen your windows or draw the curtains so it can’t see people or other animals
- If your dog barks at the same time every day, try to keep it busy or distracted at that time
- If your dog is barking and you’re in a flat or a semi-detached property, try to keep it away from shared walls
- Don’t leave your dog outside if it is barking to be let inside
- See if a friend or relative can look after your dog when you go out
- Leaving a radio on at low volume may help, and it may also obscure any outside noise
- Try putting your dog on their own in another room for a few minutes, then gradually build up the time you leave your dog alone. Do not return to your dog until he is quiet, and praise him when you return
- Keep your neighbours informed about what you’re doing to stop the barking
- be consistent - every time your dog is quiet when it would normally have barked, praise it or give it a treat (when it barks, tell it firmly to be quiet)
- if your dog is distressed, keep it inside with you whenever you’re at home - dogs are pack animals, and they need company
- sometimes a dog will bark because he is ill or anxious. Seek the advice of a vet, dog trainer or animal behaviourist whose expertise may help you to improve your dog's behaviour
What not to do
- don’t punish your dog - it might mistake it for attention, and it could also make it more anxious.
- don’t get a second dog unless you have carefully considered that you have the space and can afford to do so, and bear in mind that it may not resolve the problem
If you have to leave your dog for long periods
- Feed and exercise him before you go out and leave him fresh water to drink.
- Make sure his bed or basket is comfortable and not in a draught or direct sunlight.
- Leave him some of his favourite toys to play with.
- Make sure that the room is not hot or too cold and that there is adequate ventilation.
- If you are not returning until after dark, either leave a light on or use a night light that comes on automatically when it gets dark.
If the problem isn’t resolved
If you don’t take steps to solve the problem and we conclude that the noise created amounts to a statutory nuisance, a noise abatement notice can be served requiring the noise to be reduced to an acceptable level.
If you fail to comply with an abatement notice, you could face prosecution and a fine of up to £5,000 (and possibly further fines of up to £500 for each day on which the offence continues after conviction).