Barking dogs

Dogs are an important part of our community, but dogs that bark excessively can become a nuisance and create friction between neighbours and others using the local environment.

Approaching the dog’s owner in a neighbourly manner and discussing your concerns with them sometimes easily resolves this type of complaint as the owners of the nuisance dog are sometimes not aware of the problem.

Although barking is a natural behaviour for dogs, excessive barking is often a sign that something is ‘wrong’.

Reasons why your dog may be barking could include:

  • The dog may only bark excessively when the owner is not home.
  • The owner may not hear the barking from certain areas in their house.
  • The owner may be a very sound sleeper and not woken when the dog barks.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Disturbances.
  • Not enough human companionship.
  • Movement outside the dog’s property.
  • Hungry or thirsty.
  • Medical condition.
  • Inadequate yard space.
  • Provocation.
  • Boredom.
  • Behaviour problems.
  • Change to family structure.
  • Inadequate shelter from weather conditions.

Steps to prevent nuisance barking: 

  • Dogs can be trained not to nuisance bark. Some owners put their noisy pet in the laundry while they are out, leave an old piece of clothing with the pet that has the owners' scent, or with a radio playing. This is often enough to console the pet while they are away and may muffle any barking that still occurs.
  • Take the dog for frequent walks, once or twice a day. Dogs need to socialise and experience the sounds and smells of walks outside. Take advantage of the Shire’s Leash-Free areas.
  • Ensure that your dog is in good health and has fresh water, a balanced diet, adequate shelter from weather extremes and dog toys.
  • Take your dog to obedience classes and practice what you learn regularly.
  • Block the views of passing pedestrians and other dogs from your property with solid fencing, shade cloth or hedging, or if you feel the provocation might be human, like children teasing the dog, then discuss the problem with them, their parents or their teachers.
  • If you want to be a good neighbour and a responsible dog owner, then please check with your neighbours to see if there are any noise nuisance problems.

If you have a complaint about a barking dog in your neighbourhood:

Try the following steps to attempt to resolve the issue in a neighbourly manner:

Approach the dog’s owner when the problem arises and state your case clearly and politely. He or she may not be aware of the barking situation.

If the dog owner is unapproachable or you are not comfortable approaching them, try placing the “Dear Neighbour” letter contained in the Dealing with a Barking Dog brochure into their letterbox.

Download:  Dealing with a Barking Dog Brochure(PDF, 205KB)

If all communication with your neighbour has failed you can start the procedure for lodging an official complaint for a barking dog with Council by contacting the Environment Protection Unit on 5950 1050 or 1300 850 600

Dog Attacks

The owner is liable for any instance of their dog attacking a person or animal outside their property or trying to reach the front door. Most dog attacks occur in public places or near the property of the attacking dog.

If a dog attacks or bites a person or another animal it may be seized and held while the owner is prosecuted. In serious cases, the Shire or a Court may order the dog to be destroyed. Penalties in Court for an attack by a dangerous dog may be as much as $14,000 plus costs for damages and legal fees. If a dog that is not classed as a dangerous dog attacks or bites a person, the penalty can be more than $4,000.

If a dog aggressively rushes to within three metres of a person or chases any person, the owner may be guilty of an offence with a penalty of more than $400.

Dangerous Dogs & Restricted Breeds

Dogs are declared to be a Dangerous Dog when they have inflicted a serious injury on a person or another animal; when they have been trained to attack; or when they are kept to guard non-residential premises. Dangerous dogs must be specially registered with the Shire.

There are special requirements for keeping a Dangerous Dog that include the dog wearing a distinctive collar and the property having a specially built secure enclosure plus special signage.

A Menacing Dog is a dog that has rushed or chased a person. Menacing dogs are required to be fitted with a muzzle and leash when they are in a public area.

The following dogs are restricted breeds:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier – which is the only restricted breed currently in existence in Australia
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Perro de Presa Canario

Greater controls are placed on the housing, importation, breeding and exercising in public of these animals under the Domestic Animals Act 1994.

For further information and advice please contact Customer Service on: 1300 850 600 or email custserv@mornpen.vic.gov.au