Barking and other natural sounds like whimpering and howling are how our four legged friends communicate. When the noises are excessive there is generally a reason, but more importantly there are also a number of solutions.
Complaints about nuisance dog barking are common and the Town of Cambridge encourages neighbours to approach each other directly before making a formal complaint.
Often the dog owner is not even aware that their dog is barking as it usually occurs when no one is home.
The Town understands it can be a little daunting knocking on a strangers door so you can fill out the Town's Bark Card, which you can fill in and anonymously deposit into your neighbours letterbox.
Once the owner is aware they can make changes that may greatly reduce, or even stop the barking. Information you provide like time of the day, conditions may just be key to identifying why the dog is barking in the first place.
Why Dogs Bark
Dogs bark as a way to communicate however in some circumstances where it becomes regular or continuous for extended periods of time, there may be reasons behind the nuisance barking.
The following list provides some of the main reasons for dog barking:
- Lack of exercise
- Hungry or thirsty
- Lack of companionship
- Medical condition
- Behavioural problems
- Inadequate shelter from weather conditions.
Dogs also bark to alert their owners of trouble or intruders. What a dog considers to be an intruder can often differ greatly from that of a human. Excessive barking at normal movement, or noises from adjoining properties, is unacceptable.
Steps to Take Before Lodging a Formal Complaint
Often the dog owners are not aware that a problem exists. We encourage neighbours to communicate issues directly as this often leads to a swift resolution and minimises any potential resentment.
By noting down times and patterns and collaborating with the dog owners you are helping them to take the first steps in resolving the barking.
If you feel uncomfortable speaking directly to your neighbour then we encourage you to consider using the Bark Card. By filling the Bark Card in, tearing it off and delivering into your neighbour's letterbox, you are giving them some gentle advice that an issue exists and allowing an opportunity to address it and avoid any formal involvement from Town of Cambridge Rangers.
Lodging a complaint
If you find that the gentle method has not yielded results or simply don't feel comfortable then you can contact the Town of Cambridge and a Ranger will investigate.
The following process must be followed to ensure a Ranger can effectively and legally conduct an investigation into the matter.
- Check for the address where the noise is coming from. A description of the dog where possible is also helpful.
- A Form 7(PDF, 19KB) must be completed and submitted prior to any investigations. This is a requirement of the Dog Act 1976 to formalise the complaint and can be found on our website.
- Keep accurate diaries of all barking from that property for at least two weeks stating the times, length and type of noise the dog is making. These must be submitted back to the Town as they will help us identify patterns and better understand the nature of the nuisance.
- The Rangers will conduct an independent investigation into the barking. Your submitted diary can greatly assist with these enquiries too.
- If the Ranger finds the barking is excessive then we will work with the owners to identify strategies and solutions to reduce the barking to a more reasonable level.
- If the Ranger finds the noise to be excessive and the dog owner has not been found to make a reasonable effort to reduce or cease the nuisance, then a Ranger may issue an Abatement Notice which the dog owner must comply with or penalties may apply.
An Example of a Barking Diary
This will need to be completed as accurately as possible as it may be required to be presented before a magistrate as evidence and will assist Rangers in their investigation.
Failure to complete the diary may result in the investigation being discontinued and no further action being taken by the Town of Cambridge.
Tips for Dog Owners
If you have received a letter of complaint from the Town of Cambridge you should understand that the person(s) who lodged the complaint may not have felt comfortable to approach you directly.
We recommend that first you try to establish when the dog is barking. There is a number of ways you can achieve this:
- Pretend to go out and quietly return to house to see how your dog reacts to you leaving. Anxiety and boredom are common causes of barking. Repeat this activity for best results.
- Ask a neighbour to keep a record of when the noise occurs. This is a great way of identifying patterns and getting to know your neighbours.
- Record the activity. You can use cameras or even download a dog barking app on to your phone.
If you do discover that your dog is making noise then below are some tips that may help[ reduce or even stop the behaviour:
- Restrict dog's vision of public areas. Cover gaps in fences so dog can't see outside the property.
- Ensure dog is adequately confined to rear of property.
- Regular walks and exercise
- Toys / Puzzles
- Adequate food / water
- Shelter. You may even consider bringing your pet indoors.
- You can also visit your local vet for more information / advice.
The Town recommends completing a Bark Card and placing in the dog owner's letterbox. Often they are not even aware the noise is happening.
Call the Ranger Services team on 9347 6000 and a brochure will be posted to you with a tear-off Bark Card or download the Bark Card below and print at home.
Bark Card(PDF, 268KB)