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barking dog

Dog Barking

West Lothian residents who are upset 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 recommend 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. 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 without your permission). Although we will record the complaint, we will not usually deal with complaints where the complainant will not give us these details. You should also be aware that if the complaint is either dealt with by formal Notice or it ends in court action,  it is likely the offender will know who you are.
  • 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
  • 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 means we are unable 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. There is an option for individuals to pursue their own action under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 as detailed below. 

Whilst we will undertake investigation of all cases reported to us, sufficient evidence needs to be gathered to demonstrate a statutory nuisance 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 will offer training advice and help to dog owners in order to reduce problem barking. 

Stage 1: Once you have contacted the council, the investigating officer will contact you to discuss the details of the problem. We will then send out a pdf icon barking diary [19kb] in order to gain more information in relation to the problem barking (e.g. times of day, frequency, duration etc). We ask that you return the diary within 14 days.

Stage 2: The dog owner will be visited and advised of the problem, using details from your diary to attempt to identify possible causes for the problem barking. Training and behaviour advice will be offered specific to the individual dog/situation, and the owner will be advised that they have two weeks to implement changes in order to reduce the barking problem.

Stage 3: Two weeks after our visit to the dog owner, we will contact you to see if an improvement has been made. If there has been an improvement, and barking has been reduced to an acceptable level, the case will be closed. 

Stage 4: If no improvement has been made, or the barking is still at a level whereby it causes a nuisance, we will arrange a  suitable time to install noise monitoring equipment at your property. The equipment will usually be left for 7 days and you will play an active roll in the investigation at this point by pressing the "record" button each time a bout of barking begins. This will allow us to gain a fuller picture of the barking problem and assess factors such as frequency, duration, volume etc. 

Stage 5: Authorised officers will attempt to witness the barking with a view to evidencing a statutory nuisance. Visits will be made based on the times given in the diary/ from the recordings in an attempt to witness the dog barking. Out with office hours you will be given a phone number to call to notify officer when barking is occurring. 

Stage 6: If the investigating officer is satisfied that a nuisance exists, a statutory notice can be served on the dog owner. The notice will state the timescale in which the owner must improve the situation. Failure to comply with a notice after this time becomes a criminal offence, and the person responsible can be prosecuted. If no evidence of barking is gathered during witnessing visits, a statutory nuisance cannot be evidenced and therefore the case will be closed.

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. 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.