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barking dog

Dog Barking

West Lothian residents who are impacted by noise caused by continual barking of a neighbour's dog(s), either inside or outside their homes, have the right to take action in an attempt to resolve the problem.

Please remember that semi-detached houses, terraced properties and flats are seldom designed to be totally sound proof. You may from time to time be able to hear your neighbour's dog(s) barking. 

It is normal and natural for dogs to bark and you cannot expect any neighbour's dog to be silent. However, if the noise is so loud, frequent and prolonged as to interfere with your normal activities as an occupier, it is reasonable to expect the dog owner to take steps to address the barking problem.

How can I resolve the issue myself?

We always suggest that you raise the problem with your neighbour in normal conversation. Explain how the barking affects you and ask your neighbour if he/she would attempt to tackle the problem. Often dog owners will not realise that their dog is causing a disturbance. This way, it can be brought to their attention and addressed informally, without the dog owner feeling they have been complained about to the authorities.

What if I am unable to speak to the dog owner?

We recognise that this is not always possible, because it may be difficult to approach the dog owner directly. We recommend that you put your concerns down in writing to your neighbour in polite terms, again pointing out that the barking is causing annoyance and requesting that he/she takes action to solve the problem.

How much time should I give the dog owner to resolve the issue before taking it further?

You should allow adequate time for your neighbour to consider your request and take appropriate action. You should allow at least 2 weeks before starting to see an improvement. Copies of correspondence should be kept for future reference.

Report an Unresolved Dog Barking Issue

Please note officers are having to focus on higher priority demands and cannot provide a full response to investigate concerns of this nature at this time. We will pursue the concern informally on all occasions by sending letters. However, further involvement will be dependent on the nature of the concern and other workload priorities. We have outlined below the general approach we will take. This approach is being taken as we recognise that there is an option for individuals to pursue their own action under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 as detailed below. 

 

If the dog's owner is unable to resolve the problem and you wish to contact us for help, you will be asked for the following information:

  • Your name and address and contact number or email address. (Your details will not be given to the person complained about initially without your permission). Although we will record the concern, we will not deal with concerns where you don't give your name and address. You should also be aware that if the concern is either dealt with by formal notice or it ends in court action, it will not be possible to maintain confidentiality.
  • The address where noise is coming from. (Names and contact phone numbers are very helpful to us if they are available).We cannot deal with complaints where only the block of houses/flats are known. We require the full address of where the noise is coming from. You should be absolutely sure you are providing the correct
  • When and for how long noise occurs.
  • The way the noise affects you.
  • Anything you have done to try and deal with the problem (e.g. talking to the dog owner regarding the problem).

Please note that the law does not allow us to take into account particular sensitivities (e.g. light sleeper), or things which don't effect the majority of the public (e.g. shift worker). In order to judge whether barking is causing a problem we must take into account what is unacceptable to the average person. It is also worth noting that exaggeration of the frequency or duration of barking will undermine the credibility of your case at a later date.

It is also important that reporting a barking dog problem is not the result of hostility between two neighbours, a neighbourhood dispute or dislike of a neighbour. Barking nuisance should be considered in isolation from all other matters and making a request to the council should not be used as a form of retaliation against a neighbour.

How will we deal with it?

Please note officers are having to focus on higher priority demands and cannot provide a full response to investigate concerns of this nature at this time. We will pursue the initial concern informally on all occasions by sending letters. However, further involvement will be dependent on the nature of the concern and other workload priorities. We have outlined below the general approach we will take. This approach is being taken as we recognise that there is an option for individuals to pursue their own action under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 as detailed below. 

Whilst we will consider all cases reported to us, sufficient evidence needs to be gathered to demonstrate a statutory nuisance exists in relation to dog barking. This can be a long process and only a very small number of cases will present with enough evidence that an abatement notice can be served. We are also aware that the serving of an abatement notice will not immediately alter the behaviour of the dog and therefore wherever possible we will direct owners to training advice to help reduce problem barking. 

Please note we will only deal with concerns where we have received appropriate information. As mentioned above we will need your details and the correct details of the address where the barking is taking place.

Stage 1: Where we have the correct information we will send a letter to the dog owner. This letter will advise the dog owner that a concern of barking has been made to us, and they should take steps to ensure the barking does not present a nuisance.

You will also receive a letter advising that our investigation will be limited, that the dog owner has been written to, the options for taking your own action, and the next steps to take if the letter to the dog owner does not resolve the barking concern.

Stage 2: If the letter to the dog owner does not resolve the situation within 14 days of the letter being received, then you should complete and return to us a barking diary. This will be outlined in the letter you receive at stage 1.

 A copy of the pdf icon barking diary [19kb] for completion is found on this page of our website.

We will review the information contained within the diary. We will consider whether the barking incidents recorded are likely to require further action or investigation by our service. We will only follow up information which would indicate that a potential statutory nuisance exists.

If the information provided does not indicate a potential statutory nuisance we will write to you and advise you to consider taking your own action if the matter is still presenting a concern to you. We will take no further action.

If you do not complete and return a barking diary we will take no further action.

Stage 3: If the dog barking diary contains appropriate information to suggest the barking is a potential statutory nuisance we will write to the dog owner again and advise them to take appropriate action to control the barking and prevent further legal action being taken. You will receive a letter advising you that this has been done.

If this does not resolve the barking within 14 days you should contact us again. If no further contact is made we will assume the matter is resolved and we will take no further action. We will write to the dog owner to advise that no further action is being taken.

If concerns continue within the 14 day period we will move to stage 4.

Stage 4: Depending on the time of the barking officers will try and visit at the times indicated in the barking diary to establish if the dog barking is occurring as indicated, and if it could be considered a statutory nuisance.

If the noise is a concern out with normal office hours then we will consider installing noise monitoring equipment in your home for a maximum of 7 days, or advise you to contact the Council's Neighbourhood Response Team who will try to witness the barking and report back to us.

If no barking is witnessed during 3 site visits, or no barking is recorded over the 7 day period on noise monitoring equipment, or if the barking is not considered to be a statutory nuisance we will take no further action.

We will write to the dog owner to advise we are no longer investigating the concerns, and you will also receive a letter advising you of this.

Stage 5: If evidence is established that the barking is a statutory nuisance we will serve a legal notice on the owner of the dog to take steps to control the barking and prevent it from being a nuisance. This does not mean the dog should never bark, just not in such a way as to be a statutory nuisance.

Any breach of notice conditions could result in a report to the Procurator Fiscal, or a fixed penalty fine being issued against the dog owner.

Formal Action

Please note officers are having to focus on higher priority demands and cannot provide a full response to investigate concerns of this nature at this time. We will pursue the concern informally on all occasions by sending letters. However, further involvement will be dependent on the nature of the concern and other workload priorities. We have outlined below the general approach we will take. This approach is being taken as we recognise that there is an option for individuals to pursue their own action under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 as detailed below. 

Local Authorities have powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to take action against statutory noise nuisance; however, it is important to understand that:

  • Not all noises that cause annoyance will constitute a statutory nuisance
  • Some types of noise are not covered by the Act: and in deciding whether statutory nuisance exists, the nature, volume, frequency of occurrence and how often and when the noise occurs all need to be taken into account (occasional or sporadic barking is unlikely to be a statutory nuisance). 

In some cases the investigating officer may be sympathetic to the effect the noise is having on you, but cannot take the matter forward as a statutory nuisance and formal action would not be appropriate. For more information, on the background to this law, see Statutory Nuisance. In cases where the council does not view there to be a statutory nuisance, you have a right to take your own action through the courts.

Private action under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982

An individual, but not a local authority, can consider taking formal action under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.  The relevant section of the Act is Civic Government (Scotland) Act Section 49 of which Subsections (2) and (3) state:-

2. A District Court may, if satisfied that any creature kept in the vicinity of any place where a person resides is giving that person, while in that place, reasonable cause for annoyance, make an Order requiring that person keeping the creature to take, within such period as may be specified in the Order, such steps (short of destruction of the creature) to prevent the continuance of the annoyance as may be so specified.

3. An Application to a District Court for an order under subsection (2) above may be made by any person.

You must appear in Court on that day with any witness you may have.  It will be up to you to convince the Court that what you say is true.  Alternatively, you may employ the services of a solicitor to undertake this on your behalf. For more information of if you wish to proceed you should contact the JP Court at the address below. There may be a fee associated with making these applications. 

Livingston Justice of the Peace Court
Sheriff Court House
The Civic Centre
Howden South Road
Livingston EH54 6FF
Tel: 01506 402400 or email livingston@scotcourts.gov.uk

It is also possible to take private action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. See Statutory Nuisance​ for more information.