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What is nuisance barking?

There is a difference between a dog's normal barking and nuisance barking. 

Nuisance barking:

  • is persistent 
  • unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in any other premises.

Barking can be annoying at times, but this may not be enough to prove the dog is a nuisance.

You can find the full definition in the Domestic Animals Act 1994 on the Victorian Government Legislation website.

Talk to the dog owner first

A dog owner may not be aware that their dog's barking is annoying to people in the area. It's possible that the dog is only barking when the owner is not at home.

In most cases, approaching the dog owner in a friendly way and sharing your concerns with them can fix the issue. You can also help work out what may be causing the dog to bark excessively. For example, there may be activities happening in the area when the dog barks. 

If you aren’t able to speak to the dog owner or don’t feel comfortable approaching them directly, you can write to them. Use our 'Sample note for contacting a dog owner' below or write your own letter with details about the days and times of the barking.

Remember that it may take some time for the owner to correct the dog’s barking. They may be trying to re-train their dog to help the issue. It’s important to keep an open conversation with your neighbour about their progress.

Download the Sample note for contacting a dog owner

When to try mediation

If you haven’t been able to fix the problem by talking to the dog owner, you can try mediation.  

You can find out about a free and confidential mediation service for people to deal with disputes or conflict on the Dispute Settlement of Victoria website. 

When to report the barking to us

If you haven’t been able to fix the problem by talking to the dog owner or through mediation, then we can get involved. 

Before you contact us, you need to record 7 days of the dog's behaviour in the 7-day barking dog diary. Then you can complete our online form. You need to attach your barking dog diary with this form. We can't take any action until we receive a completed diary.

Report a barking dog form

If you want to report additional concerns with the same dog, you can submit another Report a barking dog form with the additional details or incident. You can also email this information to us at [email protected] or call us on (03) 9278 4444.

Download the 7-day barking dog diary template

How we will investigate your report

One of our Animal Management Officers will contact you to:

  • confirm the information you provided in the Report a barking dog online form
  • talk about the effects the nuisance is having on you
  • ask for more information to better understand if there is a nuisance
  • ask you to complete a more detailed 14-day barking dog diary (they will provide this to you).

We will then send you a letter to let you know we have written to the dog’s owner to:

  • tell them about the complaint
  • give them 21 days to reduce the barking. 

If the issue isn’t fixed within 21 days, the Animal Management Officer will take a formal impact statement from you. They will also decide if they need to give the dog owner a Notice to Comply. 

We may go out on location to verify that barking is in line with your description and door knock, or survey the area to find out if anyone else is affected by the barking.

When to take legal action

Legal action through the Domestic Animals Act 1994 can be a long process. It is not automatic and will depend on assessment of each case. You will have to give evidence and be a willing witness in court.

You must keep detailed diaries over a period of time and complete a detailed impact statement. Your evidence may be cross-examined in court.

Possible court outcomes can include:

  • fines
  • good behaviour bonds
  • criminal conviction in serious cases
  • an order requiring the owner to carry out certain actions or avoid carrying out certain actions. For example:
    • restricting the times of day the dog is allowed outside
    • requiring the dog to go to training and exercised regularly 
    • order the dog to be removed from the property in serious cases.

More information

For more information, call us on (03) 9278 4444 or email [email protected].

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