Nuisance Barking Guidelines
The truth is, all dogs bark! However, some dogs bark to an extent that it becomes a real nuisance. The result is often a reduction in the quality of life within the suburbs and neighbourhood tensions.
Your first attempt to solve the problem should be to talk with your neighbour. There is a good chance they are not even aware that their dog is a problem in the first place. By providing your neighbour with this information you have just made the first step in solving the problem in the most friendly way, and giving them the chance to fix the situation. In many of the nuisance barking complaints investigated by Council, dog owners have stated, "I wish they had only come and talked to us." In addition, requesting Council involvement in the first instance often gets the task of solving the problem off on the wrong foot. At the end of the day we all need to live together and in most instances this is the preferred and best-tested method of solving the issue.
Of course, if for some reason you simply cannot approach your neighbour or if the approach does not work, there are a number of possible options including, for example:
* using the Community Justice Centre for help in working it out together (telephone 1800 000 473)
* in extremely serious situations, taking civil action against the owner.
* making a formal complaint to Council.
In each case, Council can provide some advice and assistance to you and the dog owner on how to proceed. However, if you decide at any point that you want Council to take action, you will need to go though the process outlined below, completing the formal complaint form and three-day diary as a first step.
Council will then send out an information kit to the owner about the problem including specific diary excerpts (without including your name), ideas to reduce any problem barking, an offer of support in doing so, and information about nuisance barking penalties.
Convincing the owner to change their pet's habits, or in some cases helping them to do so even when they want to is not always easy, and the more information we have the more chance we have of helping. In addition, if a matter is to proceed to Court, very strong evidence is needed. Therefore Council can only act with the full cooperation of the person making a complaint.
On first contact, Council will send you out a complete barking kit with general instructions on the process including what you will need to do to continue with a complaint.
Confirmation of Complaint
When the signed complaint form and the three-day diary of the barking are received, we assess if we can act on the barking.
If so, we immediately send a Quit Barking Kit to the owner providing information on:
* Council's process
* ways of addressing barking, including encouragement to seek Council help if needed.
We will offer assistance to the owner, and include the place where the dog is kept in our regular patrols. In the meantime, if you want to continue the process you will need to keep a diary over a set 14
Continuation of Problem
After the 14 day diary is completed, you may wish to call to us to let us know how things are going, submitting your 14 day diary if you want to continue the process. If we have enough material to act on, we will immediately send a Notice Without Prejudice to the owner.
If we are not already working with the owner, we will seek an interview and will continue to offer assistance to them in dealing with the issue. If we have other evidence and the owner does not seem to be dealing with the barking, we may follow up the Notice with an Infringement.
If not, you will need to keep a diary for a new 14 day period, but this time we will also contact people nearby, seeking diaries from them.
Where neighbours also provide evidence of nuisance barking, and where there are no indications that the situation will be imminently resolved, and where you still want Council action, we may issue an infringement or take other action under our by-laws.
In general, if neighbour diaries are not obtained, we will only act if there is other evidence to assist us to build a case.