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Barking Dogs

Barking dogs can be annoying to neighbours, though sometimes the owner is unaware that the barking is causing a nuisance.

Resolving barking dog nuisances

Some of the recommended ways to resolve this issue include:

Direct resolution

  • If you encounter a barking dog from a neighbouring property, the first step could be to discuss the issue with your neighbour. Sometimes the issue of barking dogs can be resolved by speaking to the dog owner first, without the need to involve Council. Once a person is made aware that an issue is causing a nuisance to their neighbours, most of the time, they will take steps to fix the problem. Council strongly encourages the community to discuss these issues with their neighbours.
  • Council has developed a letterbox drop style of form which you may wish to use to communicate the issue of the barking dog to your neighbour. Simply print out the Barking Dogs Neighbour Handout (PDF, 769 kb) fill in your details if you wish (this is optional) and place it in your neighbour's letterbox.
  • The Queensland Government Department of Justice and Attorney-General have information about barking dogs in the neighbourhood which provides advice on how to approach your neighbour to discuss a concern and tips on setting up mediation.

Mediation services

  • If neighbourhood disputes can not be resolved you may wish to take advantage of free governments mediation services - contact the Dispute Resolution Branch on (07) 3239 6007 or 1800 017 288 (toll free), or enquire by post to: Dispute Resolution Branch, GPO Box 149, Brisbane QLD 4001.
  • For more information on this service please visit the Queensland Government Department of Justice and Attorney-General website.

Council action

  • Should you wish to make a request for a Council Officer to investigate a barking dog, please click here to report it online via MyIpswich or contact Council on (07) 3810 6666 with necessary information including details of the nuisance, location, breed of dog (if known), etc.
  • Upon making the request, you will receive a Noise Nuisance Questionnaire and be required to fill in this form for 10 consecutive days. On completion, the form must be returned for further investigation by Council. Once the questionnaire has been returned Council will undertake a doorknock investigation.
  • Council will ensure your details are kept confidential at all times. Anonymous requests regarding noise will not be accepted.
  • A dog that barks excessively can be annoying to your family and neighbours. If the dog's barking causes a nuisance, then its owner may be liable to a fine or court action. It is in the interest of the owner and the community to train dogs so their barking is not excessive.

Reasons for excessive barking

All dogs bark - it's natural. However, dogs need to learn when it is appropriate to bark and when it is not. If your dog is barking because of a behavioural issue it may be because they are:

  • Seeking attention
  • Medical Reasons
  • Lonely
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Protecting their territory
  • Responding to Movement
  • Bored
  • Fear
  • Anxious
  • Their environment

There are many organisations that provide professional advice on training your dog. We have outlined some tips below which may help but Council advises you to contact the RSPCA, check local guides or the Internet to obtain professional advice.

Training your dog not to bark

  • Dogs will react to the lessons they are taught and the environment around them.
  • If a dog is seeking attention by barking, any attention (good or bad) will meet its needs.
  • In many cases, scolding your dog for barking is not an appropriate lesson. Scolding sometimes teaches the dog that the more it barks, the more attention it will receive.
  • Training a dog not to bark requires lessons the dog understands and possibly a change in the dog's environment.
  • Repeat the lessons so that good behaviour is reinforced and rewarded. Establishing effective control and leadership with your dog should encourage the correct behaviour.
  • When you are not home:
    • Dogs often bark because of a combination of social isolation and boredom. You can spend time with your dog when you are at home which will usually relieve the problem, but when you're not, a solution can be to make your dog happy, relaxed and comfortable in its yard or 'den'.
    • You must make the dog happy about being confined to this area while you are out, but balance this with extra exercise when you return home.
    • If you are keeping your dog in its yard you may need to modify its environment so that it is kept away from 'sights and sounds' that make it bark.
    • Make sure the dog has shelter or somewhere comfortable to get out of the weather (heat, rain etc). Place the dog's water bowl inside its den or yard and nowhere else - so that even when you are at home, it has to go there voluntarily for a drink. Lock the dog in its yard for 15 minutes whenever you feed it. The dog then will associate being confined with the happiness and contentment of being fed. Leave the dog in its yard for 15 minutes, then release and praise it.
    • When you leave for work, lock the dog in the yard and give it food to make it happy. A large bone will help do this and keep the dog occupied for some time. The dog will remain quiet because it is happy.

When you are home:

  • Training your dog is the first step to achieving good behaviour. You only get back what you put in.
  • Teach your dog commands, such as come, sit, stay and ....quiet.
  • Through repetition and reward these messages should be easily learnt.
  • Reward should be given when the dog carries out the correct behaviour, do not punish it for bad behaviour - repetition and reward work best.
  • Dogs have acute hearing and shouting commands are not necessary to get the message across.
  • Dogs are pack animals and love to be around you - spending time with your dog is important to establish desired behaviour and will be rewarding for both you and the dog.
  • If the technique you are using does not work for your dog, seek an alternative such as teaching the dog to "speak" on command, and reward the dog when quiet.

Training tips

  • Try and identify the reason your dog is barking
  • Spend time with your dog playing, walking or just hanging out together
  • Be aware of your reaction to your dog barking - are you unintentionally rewarding your dog for bad behaviour?
  • Reward your dog with treats and attention for good behaviour
  • Work with your dog so it knows when it is appropriate to bark (for example - if a stranger is on your property)
  • Repeat the lessons you want your dog to learn so it becomes habit for them.

Training puppies

  • Take your puppy to "puppy school" and teach it from an early age the type of behaviour you expect.
  • Reinforce these lessons at home.
  • Spend time with your pup, give it plenty of exercise and things to play with.
  • Make sure that your puppy has had plenty of social interaction with other pups and people.

Barking dogs FAQs

To assist residents with barking dogs, Council has provided the following answers to some of the questions most frequently asked:

Complainant questions:

Q: The dog constantly barks. Just come out and listen.
A: Council does not have the resources to have an authorised officer physically investigate all barking dogs complaints from the initial stages. Once the fact sheet has been sent to the dog owner they will need time to effect the change. You will be contacted in approximately 2 weeks from the time the request is raised to see if there is any difference in the dogs behaviour. At that time if the dog is still causing a nuisance an authorised council officer will investigate the matter further. This may be done via a number of methods, including doorknocking in the area and listening to the dogs barking.

Q: I am concerned the dog owner will find out I have made the complaint.
A: customers details remain anonymous for all complaints made to Council. If the dog owner approaches you and advises that the Council informed them it was you who complained, they could be trying to get information from you to determine who made the complaint - Council NEVER releases a complainant's details.

Dog owner questions:

Q: Tell me who complained about me.
A: Council will not release details of the complainant unless required by law.

Q: It isn't my dog that barks - it's the neighbour's dog.
A: If this is the case, it will be discovered during further investigation once the Noise Nuisance Questionnaire is returned.

Q: My dog never barks.
A: If this is the case it will be discovered during further investigation once the Noise Nuisance Questionnaire is returned.

Q: My neighbours have it in for me.
A: If the customer believes they are being harassed, they can lodge a complaint with the police. Also, if this is the case it will most likely be discovered during further investigation once the Noise Nuisance Questionnaire is returned.

Q: I've received Council's letter - what do I do now?
A: The customer should monitor their dog more closely when they are at home. To determine if the dog/s is barking when the customer is not at home, they could speak to their neighbours and make enquiries about the barking behaviour. If it appears the dog is causing a nuisance they should take steps to modify the dog's behaviour (for example training).

Q: Will my dog be taken away from me?
A: Extensive investigation and consultation with the customer would occur before this was even a possibility. This would be a last resort taken by Council if it was proven that the dog was a nuisance and no action had been taken to control the dog.