Barking dogs

Dogs are a part of our community and for many people, they are a source of companionship and enjoyment. 

Barking is a natural behaviour for dogs, however persistent excessive barking, whining or howling can be a nuisance.

If you are concerned about the level and duration of a dog’s barking, we encourage you to take steps to work with the dog owner and/or our rangers to identify the cause of the barking and find a solution. 

Nuisance barking will be resolved when the underlying cause of the barking is addressed by the dog’s owner.

We understand it takes time to change a dog’s behaviour and will work with the dog owner and neighbours to resolve the issue. 

My dog is barking

Identify why your dog is barking

Barking is a natural communication behaviour for dogs but excessive barking, whining or howling can be a nuisance to your neighbours.

Nuisance barking will only be resolved once the cause of the dog's barking has been addressed. A dog's persistent barking is a learnt behaviour and a result of an issue; therefore, it is very important to find out why your dog barks.

Check out our barking dog behaviour guide for helpful tips and suggestions.

Step 1.Ask your neighbours

If you are concerned about the level of noise your dog is making, we suggest speaking with your neighbour(s) who may be affected.

We provide neighbour-friendly postcards to put in their letterbox(es) asking for their feedback.

Download the postcard below or call us on 8384 0666 for a hard copy.

'Dear Neighbour' postcard(PDF, 211KB)

Please remember that changing a learnt behaviour takes time and the amount of time will vary depending on your dog.

Step 2.I need help

If you are unable to resolve your dog's barking behaviour, we suggest you contact your local vet or dog behaviourist.

If you would like to discuss the issue with a community ranger please phone 8384 0666 or email us at mail@onkaparinga.sa.gov.au.

Step 3.I have been served with a Control (Barking Dog) Order

You will be directed to engage a dog behaviourist and will be required to complete mandated training.

Step 4.If barking continues after an Order is in place

Further evidence will be gathered of the breach, including how often, how long and what impact it's having on neighbours.

If you fail to meet the requirements of the Order:

  • an expiation notice may be issued and/or
  • prosecution may be initiated through the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) which can lead to strict controls being imposed on the dog, and/or temporary or permanent removal of the dog.

Step 5.Resolution

The issue is resolved once persistent barking has been addressed and the barking no longer persistently interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of a person.

Once the barking issue is resolved an acknowledgement letter will be sent to the owner and neighbours, and the report will be closed.

If nuisance barking recommences we will re-open the report starting at the relevant stage.

Behaviour guide

Report a barking dog

Step 1.Speak with the owner

Many times, dog owners are not aware that their dog is barking. A friendly approach may help the owner address their dog's barking quickly and avoid unnecessary dispute.

If you are uncomfortable approaching the dog owner in person, you can download our 'Dear Neighbour' postcard below or call us on 8384 0666 for a hard copy.

'Dear Neighbour' postcard(PDF, 215KB)

Please remember that changing a dog's learnt behaviour takes time and the amount of time will vary depending on the dog.

Step 2.Contact council

If contact with the dog owner is unsuccessful or the owner has been unable or unwilling to address their dog's behaviour, you can contact our Community Rangers on 8384 0666 to discuss your concerns and make a report.

Step 3.Gather information

On receipt of a report about a dog that is causing a barking nuisance we gather information to understand the dog’s behaviour, why the dog is barking, how often, when and for how long. 

This may involve:

  • meeting the customer and assessing the situation from their property
  • recording the dog barking
  • speaking with or visiting other neighbours to gather additional information.

Estimated time: about 7 days.

Step 4.Dog owner notified

The dog owner is notified of the report and provided with suggestions to resolve their dog’s barking based on the most likely cause.  Resources are provided to support behaviour change or confirm the cause and extent of the barking. 

Step 5.Monitor behaviour change

We will seek weekly feedback from you and share this with the dog owner. 

For example:

  • Has the barking reduced, stayed the same or got worse? 
  • What is the dog owner doing that is and is not working?

The monitoring stage may be extended to allow for continuous improvement of the dog’s behaviour to be recognised.

Estimated time: 3-5 weeks

Step 6.No improvement - evidence required for a Control (Barking Dog) Order

If the dog owner is unable or unwilling to address their dog’s nuisance behaviour and there is evidence of persistent nuisance, we may Order the owner to take all reasonable steps to prevent nuisance barking including engaging a behaviourist and undertaking a training course.

If we proceed to an Order, supporting evidence will be required to prove persistent unreasonable barking and its impact on neighbours.

This evidence can be in the form of:

  • a diary with date, time and duration of barking recorded
  • audio or video recordings
  • an impact statement; or
  • a combination of all three.

Before a Control (Barking Dog) Order is served, we must give the dog owner prior notice and consider any information they provide. 

Timeframe: 2-4 weeks

Step 7.Control (Barking Dog) Order served

When a dog owner has been served an Order and been directed to engage a dog behaviourist, we will check that this action has been taken.

Timeframe: Engaging a behaviourist and completing mandated training may take between 1-2 months.

Step 8.Barking continues after an Order is in place

If unreasonable barking continues after an Order has been served, further evidence will be gathered of the breach, including how often, how long and what impact it's having on neighbours.

Again, this evidence can be in the form of:

  • a diary with date, time and duration of barking recorded,
  • audio or video recordings.

The evidence is best documented in a statement that can be tabled in court. Guidance on documenting the barking and its impact can be taken from our example impact statement(DOCX, 22KB)

If the dog owner fails to meet the requirements of the Control (Barking Dog) Order:

  • an expiation notice may be issued for breaching the Order; and/or
  • prosecution may be initiated through the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) which can lead to strict controls being imposed on the dog, and/or temporary or permanent removal of the dog.

Estimated time: Briefing a matter before the court for prosecution or court ordered directions may take 12-18 months. 

Step 9.Resolution

The issue is resolved once persistent barking has been addressed and the barking no longer persistently interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of a person.

Once the barking issue is resolved an acknowledgement letter will be sent to the owner and neighbours, and the report will be closed.

If nuisance barking recommences we will re-open the report starting at the relevant stage.


Alternative remedies

The Dog and Cat Management Act provides for civil action against a dog owner.  Any person can take civil action; however this course of action can only be initiated by the complainant and not the City of Onkaparinga.

Mediation can help to resolve conflict and disputes at an early stage, with a view to avoiding the expense and stress of drawn-out legal proceedings. Contact Uniting Communities Mediation Service on 8342 1800 or visit www.unitingcommunities.org/mediation

To report a barking dog, please contact us on 8384 0666 or email mail@onkaparinga.sa.gov.au