Dog Noise & Barking
Why do dogs howl and bark?
Dogs mainly howl and bark because of some kind of stress.
They may be:
Suffering separation anxiety from their absent owner
Frustrated as the owner went out without taking the dog with them for a walk
Reacting to a noise outside the house and are therefore ‘on guard’
They might be mistreated
What you can do about barking dogs
Things You Can Do
Keep a note of when the dog barks or howls. These records will become very important if the problem goes further.
Talk to the owner. They may not even realise that their dog is making such a noise when they are absent. There are lots of things they can do to try to lessen the barking and control the problem. For example, make sure the dog has lots of things to play with such as chews, toys and a comfy place to sleep.
Keep the dog away from the front door or other places where it would hear things that make it react.
A vet should be consulted if there are separation anxiety issues.
If you suspect that the dog is being mistreated, then contact an animal welfare agency such as the RSPCA in England and Wales or SSPCA in Scotland.
If you feel unable to approach the owner or maybe you’ve already tried and the situation hasn’t improved, then you can contact your Local Council’s Environmental Health Department for advice.
Local Authority Action
In most instances, the Council can mediate between you and the dog’s owner and a successful outcome can be reached. In more difficult cases, the Council can use its powers to investigate the dog’s barking/howling as a Statutory Noise nuisance under Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This law empowers local authorities to deal with noise from fixed premises.
Before action can be taken the Council needs to investigate the noise to be sure that the noise constitutes a ‘statutory’ nuisance.
The Council has to prove that the noise is affecting your health and/or is causing an unreasonable and persistent disturbance to your lifestyle.
They will do this by investigating and monitoring the noise levels over a period of time If the Council agrees that the noise is unacceptable, they will serve a noise abatement notice on the dog owner.
If the owner fails to comply with the notice they face conviction and a fine of up to £5000 plus further fines if they still do not comply.
Taking Private Action
If you do not wish to involve the Council or the Council are unable to take action, you can complain direct to your local Magistrates Court.
You will have to make an appointment for to see a Magistrate and convince them that the noise is a statutory nuisance.
Therefore it is essential that you have kept clear records of the date, time, duration and nature of the noise.
If the Magistrate decides to proceed, a Summons will be served on the dog’s owner and a date set for the case to be heard.
You will have to attend to prove that the dog is causing a nuisance to you personally.
If you are successful the Court will make an Order requiring the person responsible to take steps to prevent a recurrence of the noise nuisance.
If that person contravenes an Order of the Court without reasonable excuse, he can be fined. Therefore, it is important for you to continue your noise record keeping.
You won’t necessarily need a solicitor when taking private action. If you wish to obtain legal advice and do not have a solicitor, the local Citizens Advice Bureau will have list of solicitors that you can consult for up to 30 minutes for a set fee or sometimes free.
If you are successful the Magistrate may award some or all of your costs.
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