Barking Dogs

Winchester City Council receives many complaints about excessive dog barking that is causing a disturbance. Dogs usually bark because their owners are out and have left them at home alone. They will not usually bark whilst their owner is there, so the owner is usually unaware of the problem. If left on their own for longer periods, some dogs may resort to destructive behaviour and continuous barking or howling.

It is generally better not to keep a dog at home unless there is someone there to look after it, but it is appreciated that people have to work. Dogs are very sociable animals and become distressed if frequently left on their own. However, dogs do get used to a routine and if they have been well exercised before you have to go out for a short period, they may well sleep until you come back.

Dog psychologists have developed occupational toys for dogs, which they claim can keep a bored dog amused. It is also thought that leaving the radio on a station with plenty of talking (at a reasonable volume) keeps a dog occupied. More recent developments include an anti-bark collar which is worn around the dog's neck and releases a spray of lemon mist in front of the dog's nose when it barks. This is harmless to the dog and humans although it distracts the dog and prevents it from barking. It must be stressed that the use of any of these devices must be used correctly and with the advice of a professional.

Dog owners may behave unreasonably, for instance by allowing their dogs to bark all day or night. If the nuisance persists the Council's Environmental Health department may become involved. The Environmental Health service has a duty to investigate complaints about barking dogs. Where the noise proves to cause a statutory nuisance to a neighbour under The Environmental Protection Act 1990, a Notice may be served on the person responsible for the dog or on the owner/occupier of the premises where the nuisance arises. Failure to comply with a Notice requiring the abatement of the noise can result in fines of up to £5000. Alternatively an individual may take private action against a neighbour.

Therefore, we ask dog owners to be considerate to their neighbours and ensure that their dogs do not bark excessively and cause a noise nuisance. Dog training can assist and there are local puppy training courses running in Winchester's District.

If you feel that your dog may be causing a problem with noise and you need advice on possible solutions then contact the Animal Welfare Officer (eh@winchester.gov.uk marked FAO Animal Welfare Officer).