Lifestyle - Dog Barking Law

Dog Barking Law

A lot of people will put up with some barking since they understand that it is completely natural for a dog to bark and he or she could be warning their owners that something is out of the ordinary or potentially dangerous, such as an intruder trying to enter the garden or back door. Most owners do know what their dogs bark is attempting to tell them, there is a frightened bark and there is a happy bark and lots in between. It is, after all, a dog’s only real way of communication. However neighbours are not always delighted at a dog’s chit-chat and this can cause major problems.

Incessant and Nuisance Barking

Problems arise when a dog is either barking incessantly and / or the constant barking is causing a nuisance at inappropriate times of the day. This will usually be at night where the dog may be kept in an outside kennel and is keeping you awake, or perhaps you have young children and they can’t get to sleep. So what do you do?

Basically you have 3 possible course of action:

  • Direct contact with the neighbour to find a solution
  • Report the matter to your local Environmental Health Department
  • Court action

1. Contact the Neighbour

If a dog is constantly barking in your street and is causing a nuisance, there are laws to address this issue. However, few people take pleasure in upsetting their neighbours wherever possible and most would wish to take a ‘diplomatic’ approach to the problem first without resorting to legal action.

The ways in which you could try to get a resolution to the problem might vary. It could all depend on how you feel about directly confronting a neighbour by knocking on their door and speaking to them about it. Others might feel that the neighbour in question might not be reasonable and that they could be hostile towards them. If you choose to speak directly to your neighbour, the best way to go about it would be to go round and see them and say that you’re just checking that everything is OK.

Your approach might be along the lines of;

“I just popped round because your dog’s been barking for the last 2 hours and I thought there might be something wrong?”

In taking that approach, you’re avoiding direct confrontation which could irk a neighbour and cause them to become hostile towards you, while still getting your point across. On the other hand, if you’ve been down that road before and the problem persists, you might decide you want to tell the neighbour that you’re having difficulty getting to sleep as a direct result of the dog barking. If you're not confident to do this, try popping an informal note through their door.

Why does barking drive us mad?

Constant exposure to the sound of barking really can induce extreme physical and psychological distress.The reason for this lies in your autonomic nervous system (ANS), which controls core body functions such as your heart rate and breathing.

When you hear a sudden, sharp noise, the sound waves are transmitted to the brain, which interprets them as a potential threat. The brain then sends signals to the ANS, and we start to feel tense — leading, typically, to an increased heart rate and higher blood pressure.

If a dog barks once or twice, there is no harm done. Our heart rate and blood pressure return to normal. But if the noise is continual, every time that dog barks, your ANS repeatedly fires up, and this starts to have an impact on your endocrine system, which is the collection of glands that release hormones throughout your body.

Your brain tells the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, which is the hormone that prepares your body either to take flight or fight in the face of any threat.In addition, the pituitary gland can release the hormone called corticotropin, which in turn causes the adrenal cortex to release corticosteroids, which make your body more sensitive to the effects of all that adrenaline.

By now, instead of lying back and wondering how many sausages you are going to burn on the barbecue, you are a cocktail of hormones that is causing you not only to feel anxious, but also immensely angry.

2. If that Doesn’t Work? Contact your Environmental Health Department

If you need to take things further, don’t call the police or RSPCA, unless you have an otherwise valid reason to do so. Instead, get in touch with the Environment Health Department of your local authority.

They will investigate the matter and deal with it. Sometimes, even the owner of the dog might not be aware of the problem. For example, a dog might just persistently bark when the owner leaves the house and the dog cannot cope with being left on its own.

Initially, an environmental health officer will try to advise the dog owner of ways of overcoming the problem. The owner, for example, might be highly embarrassed about the problem themselves, yet have no idea how to resolve it, and the officer will be able to suggest methods for training the dog not to bark in an incessant manner. The officer will ask you to write a diary with dates and times that the barking is occurring.

3. Legal Action: Environmental Protection Act 1990

However, if this doesn’t work, then it can lead to a Statutory Notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 being served upon the owner. This is a legal procedure which gives the owner around 21 days in which to resolve the issue. The Environmental Health Officer will do this on your behalf. If the problem hasn’t been resolved after that point, the owner can incur financial penalties and, as a last resort, the Act does have a provision whereby it can take away the dog from the owner.

Which breeds are the worst?

Dogs rated the worst offenders are Yorkshire Terriers, Cairn Terriers, Border Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, West Highland Terriers, Fox Terriers and Beagles, whereas those less likely to yap away all day are retrievers, collies, Old English sheepdogs and Great Danes.

The smaller the dog, the more likely it is to bark continually. Bigger dogs may bark more loudly — up to 120 decibels (the equivalent of a rock concert or jet engine) in the case of a Great Dane at full blast — but it is the high pitch and relentless nature of barking by smaller breeds that do the real damage.

Why Do Dogs Bark?

  • To express their needs (being bossy).
  • Some dogs are bred to bark (some terriers and hounds).
  • They are staking out their territory.
  • To alert other members of their pack (that’s you and your family) of impending danger.
  • When playing, just through sheer excitement.
  • Barking at other animals. Depending on where you are in the world, it could be squirrels or any other small animal.
  • If they are isolated.
  • Some dogs bark excessively when separated from their pack (you and your family).
  • If they are trapped behind some type of barrier like a fence or window.
  • Just for fun
  • To express dominance (puppies normally test you out at some stage with a display of dominance barking).
  • They bark because their owners have inadvertently rewarded excessive barking in the past (this is crucial to understand).
  • Through boredom or a lack of physical and mental stimulation.
  • May feel stressed or uncomfortable for some reason. Things like feeling threatened or if they don’t have an appropriate place to sleep can cause excessive barking problems.
  • Dogs that haven’t been properly socialized often become nuisance barkers.
  • May be looking for a response or some attention from their pack.

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The Sprocker Spaniel Club - Lifestyle - Dog Barking Law