Barking dogs can be very distressing for both owners and neighbours. As with all noise complaints, the best way to deal with this is through communication.

Dog owners are often unaware that their dog is causing a problem to others and will usually appreciate the opportunity to put things right before anyone else becomes involved.

The advice below could help dog owners to resolve the problem quickly.

Dog barking - advice for dog owners

It can be very upsetting if your dog is barking and disturbing your neighbours. Below is some advice on what you can do to resolve the situation

Talk it over

If the noise your dog is upsetting your neighbours, the first step is to talk things over with them. Stay calm and try to see it from their point of view.

Perhaps they work shifts, or have a baby or small children. Bear in mind that they might be worried about whether the dog is OK and remember, you might not know how serious the problem is if your dog is barking more when you're not at home.

Understand the nature of the problem

Ask your neighbours to tell you exactly when your dog is barking, and for how long. If you're out a lot, ask them to note down the times when the barking happens. If you're in, make a note yourself. Think about using a webcam or video camera to find out what your dog is doing when you're not there, or try a set-up' - pretend you're going out for the day, then wait outside the door to see what your dog does.

What can I do to stop the dog barking?

These simple steps could quickly cut down the amount of noise your dog is making. This will help calm the situation between you and your neighbours, and give you time to work out why your dog is barking.

  • If your dog barks at things outside your yard or garden, don't let it go outside on its own. Keep it away from windows, so it can't see people or other animals.
  • If your dog barks at the same time every day, like when people in the house are going to work or school, try to keep it busy at that time. For example, you could take it for a walk.
  • Try to keep your dog calm. If it barks when it's excited, don't play with it at anti-social times like very late at night.
  • If you live in a flat or a semi try to keep your dog away from any walls you share with your neighbours.
  • Don't leave your dog outside if it's barking to be let in.
  • See if you can get a friend or relative to look after your dog when you go out, or take it with you.
  • Make sure your dog gets some exercise before you go out. A tired dog barks less.
  • Be consistent. Every time your dog is quiet when it would normally have barked, praise it or give it a treat. When it barks, tell it firmly to be quiet. You also need to remember that your dog is part of the family.
  • If it only barks when you leave, bring it inside. Leave some toys or chews, and put the radio on quietly. If your dog is distressed, keep it inside with you whenever you're at home - dogs are pack animals, and they need company.
How to tackle specific problems

Your dog is clingy, and howls or whines when left alone - Speak to a vet, animal behaviourist or dog warden who may be able to tell you how to help your dog get used to being on its own.

Your dog is frightened.

You can tell if a dog is scared by how it acts - they usually put their ears back, and keep their tail low, have trouble settling, or keep trying to hide.

  • If your dog likes hiding, make a den for it. If it's scared of noise, mask it by putting the radio on quietly. If it's frightened of other people or animals,
  • Shut the curtains or doors. Think about talking to a vet, animal behaviourist or dog warden.
  • Your dog guards his territory by barking at people, animals or cars - keep your dog away from the front of the house or flat. Screen your windows. If it starts barking outside, call it in straight away. You could ask a vet, animal behaviourist or dog warden about behaviour therapy.
Your dog is barking to get attention.

Look at your dog, then look away to show you're not going to respond. Don't give it any attention - or anything else - while it's barking.

Try deliberately ignoring it for 20-30 minutes two or three times a day, and get everyone in the house to do the same. Doing this for 15 minutes before you go out can help stop your dog barking when you leave. A vet, animal behaviourist or dog warden may be able to give you more advice.

You went out without taking your dog for a walk, and it's barking through frustration.

Wear different clothes for walking your dog. Leave your dog's lead where it can see it, so if you're leaving without taking the lead the dog will know it's not going with you.

What not to do
  • Don't punish your dog. It might mistake it for attention, and it could also make it more anxious
  • Don't use mechanical devices - like anti-bark collars - if it could make the dog even more anxious.
  • Your dog guards his territory by barking at people, animals or cars.
  • Don't get a second dog unless you're sure it's going to make your dog feel more secure, not less.
What happens if I can't stop my dog from barking?

If you don't take steps to solve the problem, and we receive complaints about the noise, your dog is making, we will begin an investigation, and this may include mediating between you and your neighbours.

If mediation is unsuccessful, and we agree that the noise amounts to a statutory nuisance, we will serve you with an abatement notice. This means you will have to find a way to reduce the noise to an acceptable level.

If you fail to comply with an abatement notice, you could face prosecution and, if convicted, an unlimited fine (and possibly further daily fines for each day on which the offence continues after conviction.

For more information contact

Complain about a barking dog

Fill in our simple online form.

Clock Completing this form takes around 10 minutes

Paperclip We are unable to investigate anonymous complaints. If you make a complaint your details are kept confidential. See our privacy statement

Report it

After you've reported it

  • An officer will be assigned to deal with your complaint
  • They will tell the owner of the dog(s) that a complaint has been made and give them advice about how best to resolve the problem
  • They will write to you to confirm that they have spoken with the owner
  • In most cases this first approach resolves the matter

If the problem continues

Report it again.

  • The officer will now investigate the matter formally
  • They will write to the owners to tell them they have received further complaints and that they are now investigating it formally
  • You will need to gather evidence about the time and frequency of the dog barking and how it affects your use of your property.
  • Fill in a Record of alleged dog barking nuisance and send it to us so we can determine the extent of the problem. Guide to completing the record of alleged dog barking form
  • The officer will review your record sheet to decide the best way to assess the dog(s) barking
  • Normally this is done from inside your property so we can determine how it is affecting you. We may visit or we may install sound monitoring equipment

If the barking is considered a statutory nuisance

We serve an Abatement Notice on the dog owner to stop the nuisance happening again.

We normally give the owner a reasonable period of time to achieve this so the notice will not come into force immediately.

If the barking doesn't stop after the notice has come into force and we witness it, we may consider formal action such as prosecuting the owner of the dog in the Magistrates' Court.

If the barking isn't considered a statutory nuisance

We can provide you with an information pack on how you may take your own action in the Magistrates' Court.