Occasional barking is not usually an issue for most people, for example when someone comes to the front door, but persistent noise from dog barking can be particularly upsetting and annoying. Very often dog owners will not appreciate how bad a problem is as the noise can often occur when they are away from the property. Having an obedient and well trained dog will always be the responsibility of the owner. If they are unable to train a dog appropriately or keep it from barking, ultimately, they run the risk of having that dog removed.
Once a statutory nuisance is established a notice may be served and, if broken, the person responsible may be prosecuted (max £5000 fine). In Scotland The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, Section 49 permits a Justice of the Peace to deal with anyone who keeps a creature which is giving reasonable cause for annoyance. It involves the person aggrieved making a compliant to their local Court. After hearing evidence from both parties they may order owners to take action to reduce the noise.
The anti-social behaviour legislation may also provide a solution to the problem where the barking is persistent and unreasonable where statutory nuisance powers are unable to be invoked.
Some local authorities have dog wardens who can offer advice to dog owners. If you are concerned that a dog is being mistreated or neglected (and that that act results in cruelty to the animal) you should contact your environmental health department and RSPCA for advice – they may be able to act in partnership to resolve the issue. Some Councils also have animal or dog wardens who may be able to provide useful advice to you and/or the dog owner.
Collecting evidence of Dog Barking
Collecting evidence on dog barking is normally a relatively easy process for you and the local authority. The first few stages of the investigation can therefore be completed fairly quickly if it is happening regularly enough. Initially, you might have to collect some evidence yourself so that your case gets prioritised by the investigating officer.
We’ve mentioned on other pages about the importance of collecting evidence – usually in the form of a diary sheet. The same principle applies to most forms of noise nuisance, including barking dogs. You will initially be involved in recording occurrences when you are disturbed by the noise, entering detail as to how long it is continuing and how it is affecting you. This enables you to paint a picture of the intrusion and initiate an intervention by the enforcement authority.
There is also one other inclusion you might wish to add in order to provide more detail on the severity of the situation; that is, the number of barks. It might sound silly but this sort of information provides third parties with a clearer picture of the situation. Simply use a five bar gate tally system and record the barks over a 5 minute period. Your short diary entry might look a bit like this example we read:
21/7/14. 6.30am-7am. Barked intermittently. Woke me up. I got up and saw the owner had just left the house. In one 5 minute period I counted 90 barks. This was typical of the first 15 minutes – then it gradually decreased. Although tired I couldn’t get back to sleep. It was too noisy to watch the TV.
Make sure you also mark your tallies on the diary or a single piece of paper alongside the time and date. This can then also be forwarded to the enforcement authority with your diary – it will illustrate your method and demonstrate your openness. The same method can be used for other sporadic and repetitive noise sources and some types of anti-social behaviour, for example shouting or moaning.
If the disturbance is happening regularly and every day for significant periods, just a couple of weeks diary should be necessary to initiate a response from the authorities. It is important that they witness the noise so that enforcement action may be taken.