My next door neighbour recently posted the following comment on his facebook page, “Does anyone know how to shut a friggin barking dog up, the dog at number 5 has been barking all bloody night! What the hell kind of dog owner lets their dog bark all night – PISSED OFF!”
I read his post twice and breathed a sigh of relief that he wasn’t posting about my dogs. I live at number 12 and his complaint was about number 5, thank goodness!
At the time both of my dogs lay on the floor beside me, snoring as boxer dogs do, but fortunately at a decibel level that was only going to keep me and not the neighbour awake.
The comments that followed his post varied from the sensible “perhaps you should go and talk to them” to the extreme “I have a rifle you can borrow mate”.
My neighbour received an outpouring of sympathy from his Facebook friends making me think that this barking dog dilemma was probably playing out in many neighbourhoods across the Sunshine Coast.
So, here is the legal twist. What are my neighbour’s options to sort out this barking dog dilemma in a way that is both legal and likely to avoid World War III erupting in our friendly little street?
The first and probably obvious step is to go and have a chat to the neighbour who owns the dog at number 5 . Their dog may only bark when they are away from home and the owner may not even realise their dog is driving the neighbours crazy.
He could help the neighbour try and solve the problem by suggesting some solutions to the barking problem such as a citronella collar, some dog training classes or a visit to the vet. The Sunshine Coast Regional Council website has some great suggestions for dealing with dog barking, http://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/sitePage.cfm?code=barking-dogs
However, if the neighbour doesn’t take kindly to his friendly approach and the dog continues to keep him up at night he may need to take the next step and contact the local Council Customer Service Centre to make a complaint.
The Council may require evidence of the problem in the form of a ‘barking dog log’. Council will investigate the complaint under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act and at first instance try to work with the dog owner to sort the issue out. The Council will usually give the owner 14 days to solve the problem.
If the dog continues to bark after the 14 days the Council will take their investigations further, interviewing other neighbours about the problem and sometimes using a noise meter to measure the extent of the barking and the nuisance created. If a serious problem exists the dog owner may be issued with a Direction Notice to resolve the noise problem with failure to act resulting in a potential fine of up to $33,000.00.
So, what did my neighbour do about the problem?
He took the sensible approach and the following morning knocked on the neighbour’s door to have a chat about the issue. It turns out that the owners at number 5 were overseas and the friend looking after the dog had been out until midnight the night before.
He didn’t realise the dog was barking while he was out and said that the dog had really been missing its owners. He promised to keep the dog inside until the owners got home and then talk to them about it.
Our friendly little street is quiet again…..for now.