Noise complaints

Noise from dog barking

It’s normal and natural for dogs to bark. But when barking happens frequently or goes on for a long time, it can be annoying and upsetting for your neighbours. If you are out most of the time or you are just used to the noise, you might not realise just how bad it is. This page is designed to help you work with your neighbours to sort out any problems caused by your dog barking without having to involve the authorities. It will also help you understand why your dog barks, and tell you about some practical steps you can take to stop or cut down the barking. Research into noise complaints show that problems are most likely to be solved when people discuss things calmly and work out a solution between them. If you can’t do this, the council may have to get involved and you could face some serious penalties.

Understanding the problem

If the noise your dog is making 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 are working shifts, or have got small children. Also, consider that your neighbour might be concerned about the dog or that you might not know how serious the problem is if your dog is barking more when you are not at home. Ask your neighbours to tell you exactly when your dog is barking, and for how long. If you are out a lot ask them to note down the times when the barking happens. If you are in, make a note yourself. Think about using a web cam or video camera to find out what your dog is doing when you are not there. Consider a ‘set-up’ - when you pretend to go out but then wait outside the door to see what your dog does. If it starts barking and howling go back in and tell it firmly to be quiet. Punishing your dog will only make things worse.

First Steps

There are some simple steps you can take straight away to 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 in the 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 such as 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 your dog’s barking and you’re in a flat or a semi, try to keep it 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.
Problem  Solution
Your dog is clingy, and howls or whines when left alone. A vet, animal behaviourist or dog warden may be able to tell you how to help your dog get used to being on its own.
Your dog is frightened. It might look scared (ears back, 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. 
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. 
Your dog is barking to get attention. Look at your dog then look away to show you are not going to respond. Don’t give it any attention or anything else while it is 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. 
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 are leaving without taking the lead the dog will know that it’s not going with you. Keep your neighbours informed about what you are doing to stop the barking.

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. 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 are at home - dogs are pack animals and they need company.

  • Don’t punish your dog. It might mistake it for attention and it could also make it more anxious.
  • Don’t use mechanical devices such as anti-bark collars - it could make the dog even more anxious.
  • Don’t get a second dog unless you are sure it’s going to make your dog feel more secure, not less.

If the barking continues

If Slough Borough Council receives complaints about the noise your dog is making it will investigate the complaint. The council may seek to resolve the problem by mediating between you and the complainants. Where it does not do so or where the mediation is unsuccessful and the council is satisfied that the noise mounts to a statutory nuisance, it will serve you with an abatement notice requiring the noise to be reduced to an acceptable level.

If you fail to comply with an abatement notice you could face prosecution and, if convicted, a fine of up to £5,000 (and possibly further daily fines of up to £500 for each day on which the offence continues after conviction). For further information please contact the Neighbourhood Enforcement Team on 01753 875255.