Your dog is a good boy, of course, but not everyone you meet (or live next door to) will agree with you. This is especially the case if your dog decides to bark incessantly, whether at passersby, the mailman, or a change in weather.
When this happens, you may wonder, "Is it illegal for dogs to bark?" But curbing a dog's bark can be a challenging task that requires consistent training, and in the meantime, you don't want to be issued a citation by the authorities for disturbing the peace. Being slapped with a nuisance complaint due to excessive noise is no fun. Learn the local ordinances in your area if you have a dog or plan to adopt one so you're aware and prepared.
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Is dog barking against the law?
Fortunately, the answer to "is dog barking illegal?" is "no" — it's not technically against the law. But what isn't allowed is prolonged noise that disrupts someone else's enjoyment of their home and property. This could mean loud music, a barking dog, or another type of din that creates a difficult living environment. Depending on where you reside, a neighbor can complain about your dog's barking if it occurs at a certain time of the day or if it continues for a lengthy period of time.
For example, in New York City, a noise complaint can be reported to the Department of Environmental Protection if a dog's barking (or the sound from another domestic animal) can be clearly heard to excess from a residential address. If this racket is loud and disruptive during the day for 10 solid minutes or for five minutes at night, you're in violation of the local ordinance in this location, and someone who hears it (and is upset) is within their rights to report it.
How is dog barking investigated?
The way an overly loud dog's bark is investigated varies by location. If your pup is barking his head off, you may be visited by animal control officers at your home, and if your home is viewed as unsafe or neglectful in any way when these people investigate the noise complaint, it's possible that your dog could be removed from your care. In fact, in 44 states, animal control personnel are allowed to take an animal from a home that they deem abusive even before the owner is charged or convicted of any crime.
However, if your dog is found to simply be loud, you could receive a citation, a warning letter, or summons to appear in court. In all of these cases, you have the right to ask questions and comment about your case as well as dispute the potential charges related to the noise complaint.
Tips for curbing a dog's bark
The best way to avoid a visit from animal control is to teach your dog not to bark too much or too loudly. To achieve this goal, learn some smart tips for curbing a dog's tendency to bark:
- Don't yell. As frustrating as excess barking is, yelling at your dog won't fix it, and it might even scare her. Keep calm and keep training with an upbeat, measured tone.
- Offer rewards. Positive reinforcement is the best way to train a dog, which means offering lots of praise and tasty treats when she does what you've been teaching her.
- Teach others too. As you work to curb your dog's barking, be sure to tell others in your circle (spouse, kids, dog walker, dog sitter) that you expect them to follow the same protocol. If you're all on the same page when it comes to reducing the barking, it'll be easier to accomplish.
- Avoid the trigger. Does your pup bark at the pizza delivery person every single time? Does she bark when the garbage is picked up? Make sure she's away from the windows and occupied with something else so this trigger doesn't bring on the noise.
- Tire her out. As the saying goes, a good dog is a tired dog. Make sure you offer plenty of outdoor time to run and play as well as mental stimulation in the form of games and toys. With enough to do during the day, the hope is that your pet will be too tuckered to bark for very long.