ACT News


What to do when a neighbour's dog won't stop barking

It's a loud problem that can leave Canberrans in canine-populated communities ready to tear their hair out – the incessant barking of a neighbour's dog.

But rather than feed a noisy, four-legged pet poison-laced meatballs – and face hair loss – a friendly chat or a written submission to Domestic Animal Services is a disgruntled resident's best pathway to peace.

There were 137 complaints of barking canines across Canberra in the 2013-2014 financial year. Three resulted in formal notices, while a small number of owners were hit with $150 fines.

But the vast majority of complaints were resolved without formal action.

Approaching the dog's owner in person or in writing was ideal, a Territory and Municipal Services spokesman said.

Submitting an "animal nuisance complaint" was the next step if communication was unsuccessful or not an option – but be prepared to put pen to paper.


If the noise continues after a fortnight, disgruntled residents must complete a "dog bark diary" covering at least four consecutive days.

Only then could rangers investigate further and potentially issue an animal nuisance notice or fine, the spokesman said. 

"DAS prefers to assist the offending dog's owner to resolve the issue by providing support to identify and address the cause of the dog's barking," he said.

Marilyn Read knows what it's like to be on the noisy side of the fence. She approached a behaviourist vet and a trainer to quieten her four-year-old Maltese-cross poodle, Oscar.

Oscar thought his barking was deterring walkers and other canines from coming too close to his park-side backyard – it also set off four-year-old toy poodle, Murphy.

But Ms Read was not aware of the problem until a friendly neighbour informed her of Oscar's noisy behaviour while she was out.

She has since covered the fence and rewards Oscar for cutting his barking short and returning to the house when called.

"Apparently [the barking] is nowhere near as bad as it used to be," she said.

Ms Read said the poison meatball incident in Gungahlin sparked renewed concern for the safety of her pets and motivated her to continue Oscar's training.

Geraldine Wickham has come up against yapping dogs of all shapes and sizes, including Oscar, during a decade of training canines in the capital.

While training was essential, she said one of the most important steps was fostering an amicable line of communication.

"I think dog owners are a bit like parents in a way; they can be very defensive about their 'children' [but] most owners would want to know [if they were barking] so they can do something about it," she said.

Owners could also take the heat off a disgruntled neighbour's angry note or verbal concern with a friendly thank-you letter and a box of chocolates.

RSPCA ACT education office Kelly Walton agreed a friendly chat could do wonders.

She said investigating the reasons behind incessant barking, such as a lack of exercise, loneliness or boredom, was also important.

However, something more serious like anxiety would require specialist help from a vet or behaviourist.


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