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Excessive barking is one of the most common dog complaints reported to Councils. Barking is monotonous and repetitive and it is a sound that few people can tolerate for any length of time. Dog owners often have difficulty in believing that their dog barks excessively, because the dog usually barks when they are out and is not barking when they arrive home.

Because most people today buy a dog for protection as well as a companion, it is important that we understand the differences between a good watch dog and a nuisance barker. Allowing your dog to bark at anything it likes is not the correct way to teach it be "A good watch dog".

A dog that barks at anything is not a good watch dog. A dog like this is similar to a car alarm that keeps going off for no reason. People will eventually take no notice when it goes off for a legitimate reason.

A good watch dog will only bark if there is imminent danger (fire etc) or there is someone entering your property.

Dog owners are seldom bothered by their own dog's barking, but it can be very disturbing to others in the neighbourhood. The dog's owners should be approached directly and have the problem explained to them.

How It Can Affect Neighbours

  • Makes it hard to listen to people talking.
  • Makes it hard to enjoy radio or television.
  • Creates stress
  • Disturbs sleep
  • Affects concentration
  • Affects moods and relaxation

How Neighbours Can Help the Dog Owner
If the dog owner is prepared to rectify the problem, a neighbour can assist in the dog's restraining by correcting it over the fence with a firm "No" when barking occurs, and by praising the dog when it is quiet. This can be particularly helpful if the owners are not home during the day.

If a problem persists then a complaint should be made to
The Animal Control Section at your local council offices

All complaints will be investigated. You may be required to assist us by providing accurate details of the times and dates of the barking.

What To Do If A Complaint Is Made About Your Dog

  1. A dog owner who has had a complaint made about their dog's barking should
  2. Check with several neighbours to ascertain when and how often the barking occurs.
  3. Verify that there is a problem by leaving home and returning without the dog noticing at the alleged times. This procedure should be repeated on several occasions to obtain a pattern to the dog's barking.
  4. Keep a record, by doing this it may be possible to match the barking to a regularly occurring event. The neighbour's children may be teasing the dog, or some other activity in the neighbourhood could be triggering the barking.
  5. Check whether the complaint is genuine by discreetly boarding the dog for a few days. During this period the Council should be requested to make enquiries with the complainant to see whether the dog is still alleged to be barking.


Barking is a natural behaviour that may occur more in some breeds or individual dogs than others because of their breeding or temperament. Some are more excitable, whilst others are more likely to react to confinement or isolation by barking.

Prospective owners need to carefully select a dog suitable for their lifestyle and home environment.

Dogs will bark at any noises or movements they can see, hear and smell but are not able to investigate or reach. People or dogs passing by, birds flying overhead, lawn mowers, the telephone ringing, a knock on the door, livestock in adjacent paddocks or the sound of other dogs may trigger a bout of barking.

A well socialised dog that has been given a variety of experiences when young is less likely to overreact to outside distractions.

Dogs are social animals and will actively seek the company of other dogs and people. When left alone in back yards all day they may bark for attention. Most dogs will adapt to being left on their own if conditioned to do so from an early age. Leaving the dog alone for short periods at first and then gradually increasing the time to the maximum period it will regularly spend on its own, will help the dog to adjust.

Owners can also assist by establishing a routine so that the dog receives attention when they are home.

A dog should not be kept near a walkway, hostile neighbours, or where children can tease it. The location of the dog's kennel or run may need to be changed if it is too close to a neighbour or other distractions.

Neighbours who have dogs that growl and bark at each other should restrict each of the dogs access to the fence-line. A high solid fence or confining the dog to the rear of a property can prevent a dog from growling, barking or lunging at passers-by.

A dog will often bark at visitors arriving, whether they are strangers or friends, especially if it is behind a barrier. If a dog is introduced to the visitors, it won't be so vocal when they arrive.

Many dogs are anxious or insecure when their owners are absent and may cope with the stress of separation by barking, digging or chewing.

Plastic or hide bones should be given to the dog before its owner leaves home as these can provide an outlet for the dog's anxiety. Minimal attention should be given to the dog before its owner departs.

Excitable dogs will bark when overstimulated. This frequently occurs during play or when the dog is chasing a ball or birds in the garden.

A major change in an older dog's lifestyle or environment may cause excessive barking. If an owner starts working longer hours, a marriage breaks up, a new baby arrives or a family shifts house, the amount and type of attention the dog receives or its status in the household may change.

Instead of ignoring the dog, the owner should establish a new routine that includes exercise, training and play.

Dogs that are hot, wet, cold or without shelter may bark, as will dogs that are sick or in pain, hungry, thirsty or entangled in their chain. Before leaving home, the owner must ensure that their dog has access to good shelter, bedding, food, water and familiar toys throughout the day.

Dogs that are kept inside should have access to the outside when their owners are absent.

If a dog is taken for a walk, brought into the house or comforted because its barking is too loud and prolonged, then the barking will always be loud and prolonged. The dog soon learns that barking can be rewarding.

If a dog is brought inside the house because of its barking it must be done so on a permanent basis. A part of the house can be sectioned off for its use.


Yelling at or hitting a barking dog achieves nothing except to reward the dog by giving it the attention it was seeking. Whether the attention is good or bad it does not matter to a dog that seeks this.

Physical punishment will increase the likelihood of future barking by making the dog more anxious and may also cause it to bite when threatened in the future.

Get into the habit of rewarding a dog for being quiet by praising him or releasing him. To often we only acknowledge the dog when he barks.

Exercise alone will not stop a dog from barking, but it may provide an active release for its energy. Exercise should be varied, with 15-20 minutes daily spent walking, training and playing with the dog. If the dog is to be left alone all day, it is preferable for the owner to exercise it before leaving work.

Riding a bicycle with the dog running alongside is dangerous. Too often a dog is distracted by another dog and pulls its owner off the bicycle and into traffic, or the dog itself gets injured in the moving wheels.

Another dog may help if a dog is barking because of isolation or anxiety. If not, then the resident dog will probably teach the new dog to bark at all the distractions it presently barks at.

Owners considering a second dog should first borrow a dog from friends, on different occasions, to assess whether company will reduce their dog's barking. Other pets can provide company for the dog. Caged birds can be used, but they must be kept out of the dog's reach.

Curtains should be drawn and the dog's access to windows restricted to prevent it from barking at passers-by.

A "do not disturb", or a "do not ring" sign pinned to the door when the owner is absent will decrease the likelihood of the dog barking when someone knocks or rings.

Some dogs will relax more if the lighting is dimmed.

A radio, TV, video or music can be left playing when the owner is out. This may comfort the dog by muffling any extraneous sounds and creating conditions similar to when its owners are home.

If the continual ringing of a telephone causes the dog to bark, an answer phone can be installed. This will enable the owner to call home at irregular intervals and use their voice to distract the dog from its barking.

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