What recourse do victims of nuisance dog barking have?

This Forum is a continuation of a previous which originated from a blog entry by .

Barking dogs and other forms of aural assault gravely degrade the quality of life of many in our community, including my own. In my own view, as a victim of nuisance dog barking, even the attitude displayed by other anti-noise activists in the previous forum has been unhelpful to me. That attitude is one of hostility of to dog owners and sometimes even to dogs and only seeking remedy by the enforcement of laws against dog barking or legal action, whilst opposing any measures on the part of the broader community to help dog owners who are sympathetic to our plight. When I suggested that there be council-subsidised programs to provide care for dogs during the day, or to train them against barking, a response on the forum was that we should not be expected to subsidise the needs of dog owners. That was only likely to guarantee that far fewer dog owners would be sympathetic leaving only coercion in some form as the only path along which to proceed. If people disturbed by dog barking are a clear majority of society, then our fight to remedy this situation would be relatively straightforward, but it seems to me that the majority of our society are either perpetrators of dog barking and other forms of aural assault or are indifferent to it. However, When I asked my nearest neighbour what he thought of the barking of two different pairs of dogs nearby through most of the day and through many evenings, he told me that it didn't bother him at all. If we are a minority , then the fight becomes harder. As one person who trains dogs and owners to prevent barking and other nuisance behaviour put to me earlier tonight, complaining to the Council about neighours' dogs could put us in a situation where we could find ourselves hated by most of those around us. I am not saying therefore that we should not make complaints, but before we do, it might be more prudent to give the offenders every opportunity to rectify the problem and even offer to help, perhaps by offering to let the dogs play in your yard while they are out as someone put to me. (In my own case that is not practical as my yard is not enclosed by a fence.) Perhaps, if they refuse to do anything, then at that point a complaint could be made to the council, but that course could still cause us to become unpopular. However, at least we would then be able say to people around us that we first tried our hardest to find other remedies. Another avenue which I would like to explore is, after taking every reasonable effort to get the problem fixed, to take direct reprisals against either the owner or their dogs. As an example, is it possible to direct load noise only audible to dogs in their direction every time they bark? Is it possible that that that would eventually deter them from nuisance barking? Also, if my own peace is utterly destroyed during the day, they why should the dog owners themselves be any more entitled to enjoy peace in the evenings? I imagine a good many could be made understand your point of view if you were to subject them to your own preferred music played loudly through loud speakers pointed in their direction. It does seem that playing music loudly all day long within my own house does sometimes make me less bothered by dog barking, although I can't yet absolutely vouch for it., However it is at a cost of not being able to hear my phone ring or people knocking on my front door. In any case, I believe I still should be entitled to work in peace rather than being subjected to noise, even if it is noise of my own choosing. I put these ideas not necessarily if they are good ideas, but rather in order to start a discussion that would help me and others find ways to rectify this problem. One final word: I want people who participate in this discussion to genuinely seek solutions that would allow for the reasonable needs of all sides of the debate to be met. If we just adopt the mindset that the other side are wrong and have no legitimate rights, then I don't see that this discussion can lead anywhere.

-comment" id="moved-comment">About the posted comment "nuisance dogs and their owners": A bug in the older version of the content management system causes some links, including links to comments from the right hand side of candobetter.net not to always work. When the comment "nuisance dogs and their owners" was posted to this article, it was posted to the second comment page. Links to the second comment page don't work because of the bug. To get around this, I have (i) the comment as a miscellaneous () comment, (ii) disabled the posting of new comments to this article, and (iii) deleted the originally posted comment. Further comments are welcome including on the ( . - James Sinnamon


Have dog-free suburbs. If you want to move in there you must sign an agreement that you will not have dogs.
Quiet Tasmania's picture

That's a good idea - provided of course that it's enforced. It is inevitable that more and more stressed citizens will demand peaceful living circumstances, particularly at night. Adequate sleep is absolutely essential to human health. One of the most efficient ways to secure peaceful circumstances in our manic dog-obsessed society (part of which now wants dogs in shops and waiters to wait on dogs in restaurants) is through, like you say, dog-free suburbs. Of the three international petitions I have online and ready for your signatures is the one titled "Dog-free Communities." These online petitions may be accessed via where you may click the Signature tab at the bottom of each petition to read the comments of others before signing the petitions and leaving your own comments. Comments may be viewed by hovering your mouse over the "View" tab. These petitions provide a simple, unofficial method wherein you may demonstrate your support for a particular idea. Peter Bright Hobart Tasmania

I truly understand that logic and reason should be safely invoked on the matter of externally generated noise when that noise is forced inside neighbouring premises. Logic and reason should ideally be based on the premise that where there are laws against something, the laws are usually for a good reason and that the person responsible will react well to any polite request for domestic quiet. But does it really matter how hard I am punched on the arm, or whether or not the force, time, location and reason for the punch could or should be my responsibility to negotiate ? The punch on the arm, however slight, is a physical and psychological assault. The same standard, under law, has to apply for acoustic assault that is delivered into the sanctity of someone else's living and sleeping quarters. I doubt if there is going to be any safe way that those who want to live inside their homes minus acoustic assault can (nervously) negotiate with offenders who didn't demonstrate sufficient social conscience to disallow their own trans-boundary noise in the first instance. If they know that their dog is barking, then a law abiding and considerate citizen would ensure that they attended to it immediately, or at the very least, from the moment they are notified. Too often offenders when notified, become haughtily resistant, making all manner of excuses. There seems to be some kind of nasty human personality traits developed in recent decades that make it almost impossible to approach the owners of dogs. We we are seeing more and more that innocent people who think they are doing the right thing in courageously and personally asking for quiet, are being rewarded with physical or verbal assault. There are increasing numbers of complaintants who are rewarded for their courtesy in taking the direct approach --- they are further assaulted, or murdered. Just recently a lethal stabbing happend in Australia when someone asked for a dog to be quiet. On the suggestion of allowing other people's dogs to play in our backyards: I think this idea is fraught with danger. Even if my opinion is not agreeable to others, I invoke the natural right to express it, and though I strongly disagree with the writer of this opinion, I also strongly defend his/her right to provide it. In no way, given the immense grief that barking dog owners have given me and my family, would I feel sufficiently magnanimous to take responsibility for the socialising of anyone else's dog in our backyard. As well, the potential damages/financial liabilities on owners who let their dogs play on someone else's premises could be horrendous. The owner of a dog that delivers a dose of roundworm to an unspecting or visiting infant, causing major vital organ damage,or bites, or just pushes over a tiny tot who is then further harmed, could likely find him/herself the subject of a costly legal claim. Anyone who would like to keep a dog has every right to do so. There are many lonely people whose only conversation is with a dog, and some might even enjoy the sound of their dog barking. But they must be warned, and they must understand and conform with the legal requirement from the outset, that every aspect of their dog's behaviour belongs inside their own premises. For us, we only want to choose whether or not we have a dog barking inside our homes. Nothing more, nothing less.

I share most of the feelings expressed above, having also been the victim of accoustic assault by barking dogs on a number of occasions throughout my life. However, whilst, of course, my overwhelming sympathy lies with those who wish to end the destruction of the quality of life caused by barking dogs and their often selfish, inconsiderate owners, we still need to bear, at the very back of our minds, the fact that our demands upon dog owners of good will, may cause them problems too. Appropriate solutions may involve the victim of accoustic assault helping in some way. Personally if my yard was fenced, I would choose to allow a neighbours dog to roam in it when I am home and the neighbour is away, although I can understand why some might not be so willing on health grounds. I also see no reason why an owner of an offending dog should not be willing to allow a neighbour he/she trusts to come into his/her yard in order to appropriately discipline an offending dog in order to stop the dog barking. If we are going to assert our rights against accoustic assault, as well as assertively standing up for ourselves, we also need to demonstrate some capacity to accomodate the reasonable needs or well-meaning dog owners.

I have also published this comment, with some variations here Those who find particular sounds unbearable, where other people don't seem to understand, should find out about the condition of hyperacusis at this . The website was created through the contributions of clinicians and patients from all over the world, who joined together to establish an extensive source of information to help patients recover from hyperacusis. It was by fully reading this site that I came to some understanding and tolerance of the level of complaint about dogs barking on this forum. The following site has a massive amount of helpful information, including case histories, a self-help treatment option, and specialist referral services. The self-help treatment option (using a cd with 'pink noise') is very low cost (instead of USD $3-4,000) and there are several accounts on-line of how it helped people to easily accomodate common sounds which they previously found intolerable. Even if you are not a sufferer, the syndrome is a very interesting one to read about. In fact all of us, as we grow older, may be at risk of symptoms of the 'recruitment' syndrome described below, although most people will not experience it in a devastating way. Of particular interest was the page, which gives information about four kinds of hyperacusis, which I reproduce below.
"4 Types of Sound Sensitivity" "1. HYPERACUSIS: These individuals have a collapsed tolerance to normal environmental sound. The term commonly used to describe this condition is 'hyperacusis'. Hyperacusis can come on gradually or occur suddenly where the patient finds themself in a state of crisis. Patients who have a collapsed tolerance to sound need to have their Loudness Discomfort Levels (LDL's) established by a hearing healthcare professional. Normal LDL's are in the 85-90+ decibel range. Patients with hyperacusis would have LDL's well below that level. The common treatment for hyperacusis is listening to broadband pink noise though sound generators (special hearing aids) which must be ordered through a specially trained doctor or audiologist who administers Hyperacusis (Tinnitus) Retraining Therapy. The therapy often costs $3000-$4000 (depending on the clinician) and typically is not covered by insurance. There are two basic ways to deliver broadband pink noise to your ears. The best way starts with a clinician who is trained to diagnose the seriousness of your condition, explain to you the dynamics of hyperacusis, test your ears in gentle ways to determine your loudness discomfort levels (LDL), fit you with special hearing aids called noise (sound) generators that deliver broadband pink noise to your ears, monitor your progress and provide directive counseling until you recover. Treatment usually lasts 6 months. Clinicians who administer this kind of treatment were trained by Dr. Pawel Jastreboff (Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia). They are experts in treating hyperacusis and tinnitus patients. Their protocol is called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (also know as TRT) and it has significantly helped tinnitus and hyperacusis patients recover. To learn more about TRT you might consider reading Dr. Jastreboff's book "Tinnitus Retraining Therapy." A list of TRT clinicians can be seen by visiting this website: The second way one can deliver broadband pink noise to their ears would be to purchase the broadband pink noise CD from the network. Instead of listening to broadband pink noise through special noise generators (TRT), a similar sound can be delivered to the ear by listening to a pink noise CD. With this method pink noise is delivered to the ears through a compact CD player (i.e. walkman). If you use a compact CD player it is very important that you use open air headphones. More detail is explained in the guideline that comes with this networks pink noise CD. Pink noise can also be downloaded from the pink noise CD to an ipod. The only caution here would be that the pink noise be converted to a WAV or AIFF format. 2. RECRUITMENT: There are many more individuals who have recruitment. Recruitment is the a rapid growth of perceived loudness for sounds in the pitch region of a person who has hearing loss. This phenomenon occurs because at some decibel level, the normal hair cells adjacent to the damaged hair cells (corresponding to the frequency of a hearing loss) are "recruited." At the decibel level at which these normal hair cells "kick in," perceived loudness shoots up rapidly, causing discomfort. In other words, at one point the person cannot hear the sound because they have hearing loss (in that frequency), then when the sound reaches a certain loudness and/or frequency the person is blown away. Once they finally hear the sound, it is perceived as far too loud. Recruitment is a common phenomenon in cultures where the majority of their lives have been saturated with too much noise – like our Western culture. Common treatment is the same as it is for hyperacusis unless the persons hearing loss is so pronounced that listening to broadband pink noise would be of no benefit to them. 3. HYPERACUTE HEARING: Then there are individuals who are sound sensitive at birth but it is only specific to certain frequencies heard at loud levels (typically above 70 decibels). It may seem like we are splitting hairs here but remember – the key words with hyperacute hearing are – sound sensitive to specific frequencies heard at loud levels. These frequencies are typically labeled 'problem' frequencies. Autistic children are good examples of this. They can tolerate some sound at normal or even loud volumes but some frequencies are intolerable. Commonly autistic children, children who are marginally autistic, or non-autistic individuals who have hyperacute hearing are treated with auditory integration therapy (AIT). AIT takes regular music and filters out the problem frequencies through a special machine called an audiokinetron. Somehow this therapy seems to 'retune' their ears and normalizes their hearing tolerances. The music is listened to at decibel levels which can peak up to 90 decibels. This creates a problem for the hyperacusis patient. The therapy is too loud and only worsens the condition of the hyperacusis patient whose Loudness Discomfort Levels have been compromised. Hyperacusis and recruitment share part of a common pathway but in some ways we are very different and our retraining therapies run very much a different path. Phonophobia often develops with an individual who has a significant collapsed tolerance to sound. They not only fear the sound of the environment they are experiencing in real time (right now) they worry about the sound that future events of the day or in the near future will produce. Phonophobia can take over ones life and make one feel they need to isolate themselves to survive. This is a recipe for disaster. It is critical that we keep our ears active to rebuild our tolerances to sound. That is why broadband pink noise is so crucial to bringing us back to the mainstream of life. 4. MISOPHONIA: (dislike of sound) has often been thought to be hyperacusis. This is not true. Let us be clear here. A hyperacusis patient can have a strong fear of sound (phonophobia) or a specific dislike of specific soft sounds (misophonia) but neither one of these symptoms stand alone as hyperacusis. Hyperacusis is a collapsed tolerance to normal environmental sounds. They hyperacusis patient may or may not have phonophobia and/or misophonia. If the hyperacusis patient IS also dealing with phonophonia and/or misophonia then their clinician needs to address these issues is addition to treating the patient for hyperacusis. It is also important to note that a person can have phonophobia and/or misophonia and not have hyperacusis at all. Sound confusing. Let's talk... We will discuss forms of misophonia. They are not a separate catagory of sound sensitivity because the issues we are about to talk do not involve loud sounds. Some individuals are not sensitive to loud sounds (in other words they have normal loudness discomfort levels - LDL's) but they are unable to tolerate the sound of people eating or chewing. Oddly enough they have no problem tolerating the sound of their own eating. These individuals have a difficult time eating with their family and friends and some insist on eating all by themselves. They become irritated or enraged at meals and sometimes. This is not hyperacusis. The patients primary goal would be to neutralize or refocus the dislike they have of these specific sounds. Most of these individuals live very normal lives with the only exception of being unable to tolerate all the dynamics of other people eating. Often these individuals have been unsuccessful finding any information about this condition. To the best of our knowledge no articles have been written in any qualified medical journal and no studies or research has been done about this. Patients seeking treatment from their clinician may have to copy the information from this website to help their doctor understand what is taking place here. Treatment for these patients comes from clinicians who have a specific protocol for misophonia. Search the network message board using the word 'misophonia' to learn more about this problem and protocols suggested. Usually these individuals are sensitive to particular sounds which are not loud in volume. For example, some individuals have a hearing sensitivity to certain consonants (i.e. s, t, p, c). Once again, although this is a sound sensitivity issue, this is not hyperacusis. It is misophonia. Misophonia is a symptom which is misunderstood. The word 'misophonia' was invented by Dr. Pawel Jastreboff to help clear some of the misunderstanding. Aside from a misophonia protocol it is not clear whether broadband pink noise helps the patient improve their dislike of sound. Some individuals with misophonia have been diagnosed with an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and have sought treatment from a psychotherapist."
Copyright to the author. Please contact sheila [AT] candobetter org or if you wish to make substantial reproduction or republish.

There is no doubt that deflection of the adverse health effects of neighbourhood noise pollution through the promotion of hyperacusis as causal within the complainant population constitutes an implied excuse for uncontrolled barking dogs. Or at least an excuse for those who think its just fine to impose their acoustic preferences on the environment around them. Hyperacusis is an organic dysfunction, while invasive neighbourhood noise is a disruptive psychological imposition. When quiet enjoyment of the family home is denied through what is known as "impulse" sound, or any other high or low frequency disturbance, and when the World Health Organisation authoritatively and strongly warns governments at all levels to act to protect their populations NOW, then attributing distress to a well-researched condition such as hyperacusis shows yet another level of irresponsibility. (How long will the average person tolerate his own dripping tap, the one that disrupts his concentration and prevents sleep? Not very long!) I undertook a survey to establish the incidence of noise complaints within a targeted community. The survey was in some part devised to determine whether or not hyperacusis, or over-sensitivity to noise, or organic hearing dysfunction could be attributed to the hundreds of thousands of complaints about noise lodged each year with Australian authorities. One of the questions contained in the survey: "Is any other individual living in your household disturbed/distressed by the noise?" 98% of respondents replied "Yes". So the propensity to focus on the receptors of this noise pollution as contributing to their own problem, seems medically unwise, and statistically unsupportable.
Quiet Tasmania's picture

Councils everywhere are hamstrung by their state's barking control legislation's use of imprecise terminology. Here's part of Tasmania's Dog Control Act 2000 ... Dogs creating nuisance Section 46: (2) The occupier of any premises must not permit a dog to be, become or create a nuisance on those premises. Penalty: Fine not exceeding 5 penalty units. (A "penalty unit" is currently $120.) (3) A dog is a nuisance if – (a) it behaves in a manner that is injurious or dangerous to the health of any person; or (b) it creates a noise, by barking or otherwise, that persistently occurs or continues to such an extent that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in any premises or public place. At first glance this all looks very reasonable, however if you are an Animal Management Officer (AMO) or anyone else lumbered with enforcement tasks, then it's so unreasonable as to be virtually unworkable. For example, where's the definition of "injurious" and where's that for "health"? Similarly, where are the definitions of "continues" and "to such an extent" and "unreasonably" and "peace" and "comfort" and "convenience"? These subjective terms impose such legal minefields on councils that it's no wonder many of them have entered denial mode and won't come out. This leaves innumerable barking victims with no legal recourse for relief so it's no wonder that some tormented persons prefer to kill the dog rather than move out. Some states have attempted to resolve the above dilemmas by time-slotting - that is, a dog may bark for six daytime minutes per hour or three night-time minutes per hour before its owner commits an offence. There are several serious problems that render this concept impractical. For one thing, dog's can't tell the time. For another, who is going to stand outside the premises alleged to contain a barking dog and record the woofing with a stopwatch? For another, who's going to believe his tally anyway? In the last few years a new device, developed in Australia, has been trialled by some councils. This electronic device logs each bark as a function of time - the time being perhaps 7-10 days. At the end of this period the collar, which can't be removed by the dog's owner, is taken off by the council which fitted it and its data is downloaded for examination. The Onkaparinga council in South Australia was one of the first councils to trial this device and its management expresses some satisfaction with the results obtained - when owners consented to its use. The Knox City Council in Victoria is currently proposing to not only fit the collar, but to do so whether the dog's owner likes it or not. Interested persons are invited to visit and assess the matter for themselves. There are currently provisions for commenting both on the Quiet Tasmania News website and that of the Knox Leader. Peter Bright Tasmania

No James, the collars are fraught with potential legal dangers. Any vexatious dog-owner can readily modify his/her dog's barking behaviour for the duration of the monitoring period. In order to avoid rebuke, or a fine, the owner of a dog wearing the bark-counting device can choose to keep the suspect dog inside, or leave it with a friend where possibly less populated environmental conditions ensure it will not bark. Then what do we have? Documentation that provides the dog-owner with legal evidence that the dog was not barking, and that the person who complained likely made a false statement! Once again, the person who has been unwillingly drawn into this unhealthy situation is subjected to even more complications. The emotional, legal and environmental position of the person on the wrong end of the barking is further degraded. Fitting such a collar to a dog is a clear signal to any uncooperative dog-owner that habitual barking will be recorded. What better way to warn someone that he/she should keep the dog quiet --- at least for the time it takes to prove the dog was not barking as reported? Not only that, but as yet there are no professional human health studies that recommend how much barking disturbs sleep, interferes with family communications and constitutes psychological deficit. Dr Craig Mixon (Californian psychologist) has written extensively on The Harm Done, but no-one has yet announced how many barks per hour will cause sleep arousals (with consequent drowsy driving). I wouldn't want my pilot, ambulance officer or school bus driver to be a victim of bark-induced sleep deprivation. Yet this is occurring everywhere, it is not restricted to poorer socio-economic areas. I live in Toorak, Melbourne, and also spent years in Ascot, Queensland, both areas where one would not expect irresponsible dog ownership. But right across Australia, in every nook and cranny, at every level, the statistics are showing rising complaint numbers on an environmental pollution that you would more likely associate with socially under-privileged, under-informed groups. It must be just another sign that the Australia we once had is not the Australia that our valiant Diggers honoured with their lives. The title of this website is "We Can Do Better". And a good part of doing better is to do the right thing for neighbours. Just be nice. That's all.

My wife puts a loud radio at our property edge when the neighbor's dogs are barking. After the neighbor takes the dogs inside, she turns the radio off. The wife is trying to 'train the trainer' or lack thereof.
Quiet Tasmania's picture

Trading noise for noise sometimes works well, but it can also backfire. Some inconsiderate dog owners are so dense that trying to reason with them proves futile. In these instances something else is required, but unfortunately that "something else" (such as reciprocal noise) can be in breach of other laws. The mindset of many unintelligent dog owners is so illogical that if a distressed person retaliates with a noise rebuke (such as trading one noise for another as a free and unsolicited aid to learning) they become incensed and call the police. I recall over twenty years ago being tormented by the loud barking of two large black dogs next door. Of course I politely told the owner about the noise but his riposte was the common "All dogs bark!" so I knew another method of getting through to him was required. I chose Noise for Noise. Just on my side of the paling fence between us was a gum tree. I climbed it half way to a point where I could nail a car horn ($5 from the wrecker's yard) and aimed it downwards towards his barking dogs. Then I connected it to my car battery with heavy-duty automotive cable running down the side of the tree and secured to it. When I became too distressed with the din invading all parts of my home I'd go outside, lift the car's bonnet and tap the wire onto the positive terminal of the battery. I'd make the circuit intermittently so that if a dog went "WOOF!" my horn went "HONK!" Similarly if the dogs went "WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! my horn went "HONK! HONK! HONK!" This is what I call trading noise for noise. The owner was outraged. He called the police. Two police constables came out and said to me "You can't do that!" whereupon I quietly convinced them that I actually could. They repeated "You can't do that! It's Disturbing the Peace!" whereupon I asked them politely "What peace?" They then threatened to arrest me if I did it again but as they did so, Mr Next-door's two big dogs started their engines up and the terrible din was startling. I said "There! Now you've heard for yourself what we have to put up with!" The two officers, now somewhat freaked out at having heard the alleged offence with their own ears, immediately left my front porch and entered my neighbour's premises. Maybe 20 minutes passed. When they came back they said "We have spoken to the owner and you'll be pleased to know he's getting rid of the dogs in two days!" Quite surprisingly, he actually did, and peace reigned for several months. Then the oaf obtained two more large black dogs and the procedure repeated - but this time the police did NOT come out. You see, I had delivered a four-page letter to the town's police station outlining the problem and the distress it was causing, and informing them that if the owner repeated his offences I would double my responses to TWO honks per woof - and that's exactly what I did. It seems the police eventually felt that they'd better just leave the matter to my neighbour and I to sort out between ourselves. He fumed that his phone calls to the police were clearly futile. At some point I realised that aiming my very loud horn at the dogs was not fair to the dogs - themselves victims (as is so often the case) of owner stupidity. I recognised that their extreme barking was not their fault but their owner's, so I climbed the tree again and this time aimed the horn directly at my neighbour's bedroom. This now proved altogether too much for him, particularly when, after one long din-for-din session, his wife told me that she'd just spent two hours trying to get their baby off to sleep - and then HORN! I did not know about the baby. She was a reasonable person, and fair. Her husband was neither. This neighbour became resentful because he could not induce the police into condoning his lawbreaking - or to defend his self-perceived right to practice it at will. He came down my driveway to remonstrate with me. I forget what he said, but I recall his parting curse: "I hope your house burns down!" Tough luck mate - it was never my house, and over twenty years later it's still there. He and his family moved out, and the dogs with them. The above story, all true, shows what can happen when an aggrieved person trades noise for noise. There can be trouble but there can also be success. In this unique instance, very satisfying relief had been achieved by putting my horn up a forking gum tree. But there's more. Before this donkey moved out he had a visitor. It later became apparent that this visitor had been regaled with stories of my outrageous behaviour. There was a loud knock on my front door. A somewhat inebriated man stood there. He had my horn in one hand and in the other hand was the horn's connecting cable trailing across my front yard and along my drive and into next-door's driveway. He demanded to know, while standing beside his car parked in his friend's driveway and minding his own business, how suddenly, from out of the sky, came this object. It had landed on his windscreen and cracked it. He pretended to great shock and affront. At first I did not know what to make of all this, then the truth of the matter dawned upon me. What this moron had done, on behalf of his gutless dog-owning friend, was to put his arms across the top of the paling fence to grab hold of the power cable, and then jerked it with such strength that the horn and its mountings were wrenched from the tree trunk. This was evident from the damaged horn terminals, too. I appraised him of my conclusion and he denied he'd done anything of the sort. Before departing, this liar declared "I don't care who did it, but I'm going to get a new windscreen out of it!" My poor horn. It had given such sterling service for peace - but there it was, terminally wounded. It never worked again. Even in death it represented the best $5 investment for peace that I'd ever made. Peter Bright

It is known that about one in 25 people are sociopaths - see Martha Stouts's recent book "The Sociopath Next Door". In Australia, there are also millions of them - see "Touched by the Devil" by Andy Shea. These people like to cause pain and even death (e.g. serial killers) because, for one reason, it shows they have power and control over others. They have no conscience, feel no guilt or shame, and have no pity or empathy for others. You find the lower-level psychopaths in white-collor jobs by the thousands, according to Andy Shea. One easy way, if your are a psychopath (sociopath) to exert control over others and get away with it is to keep a dog or two, which barks/attacks. You will never be called to account. Good fun. If your victim dares to complain to either you or the Council, you can abuse him with impunity with more barking and other forms of reprisals because you have been "provoked". 72% of all Australians keep a dog, and one-third of those housholds keep at least one barking dog. That means there are about one in every four dwellings with barking dogs. I believe the pet industry has a lot of do with it. Look at ads on T.V. Every second ad contains a dog!! It used to be a girl in a bikini. She has been replaced by a dog/dogs. You can't appeal to the reasoning power of sociopaths - they don't have any empathy for you, and by begging them to give you relief you are simply playing into their hands because they enjoy seeing you suffer. The only solution is to treat barking dog owners the same way we treat most other vicious criminals. Audrey
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The owners of dogs which inflict distress by barking are certainly committing much more than a nuisance, and if the victims of this invasive noise can stop a moment to consider what is happening to them they will quickly admit they do indeed feel assaulted by the din. There are solid reasons for the criminalisation of barking and this article from shows why ... Extract from the QUEENSLAND CRIMINAL CODE Act No 37 0f 1995 Division 2—Assault generally What is an “assault” 113 (1) A person assaults anyone if, without the other person’s consent— (a) the person applies force to the other person; or (b) the person— (i) by a bodily act or gesture, attempts or threatens to apply force to the other person; and (ii) is able, or appears to be able, to apply the force. (2) A person applies force to anyone if the person, directly or indirectly— (a) strikes, touches or moves the other person; or (b) applies heat, light, electrical or other energy, gas or odour to the other person to a degree that causes the other person injury or (c) applies force in any other way to the other person. ---o0o--- We ordinarily regard assault in purely physical terms such as defined in (2) (a) but (2) (b) offers cause for us to consider barking as an assault and to require the enforcement authorities to process it that way. Heat and light are electromagnetic radiations capable of transferring energy through space. The energy content is measurable. The most common example of this energy transference is sunshine and it is sufficiently forceful enough to propel spaceships. There is no physical contact whatever between the sun, as the source of this energy, and humans as its recipients. In a comparable manner but using an entirely different transmission medium, our earthly atmosphere is the conductive mechanism for the transmission of cyclic air pressure variations which, when audible, we call sound. This energy is also measurable and has forceful potential. Once again, there is no physical contact between the source of sound and the recipient. In both cases when there is a recipient, energy is transmitted from one place to another by sinusoidal vibrations. The energy has no effect until it arrives somewhere and is absorbed and converted. With heat and light the vibrations are purely electromagnetic and with sound they are purely atmospheric. In both cases the physics behind this transmission of energy are comparable. In section (2) (b) both heat and light, with no physical contact whatsoever, are defined as potentially assaultive. It follows that sound must be treated the same way. Noise is defined as any unwanted sound. All noise is therefore potentially assaultive according to these Division 2 definitions. Reinforcing this deduction we have in (2) (b) is the usage of the phrase “ .. other energy .. ” where sound is also forceful, and when it is received, as per s 113 (1) without the recipient's consent, constitutes assault. Consolidating the definition of noise as potentially assaultive is the terminology of s113 (2) (c) which effectively outlaws the intentional application of unwanted force using any method at all. Summary: Unwanted noise is assaultive. Barking, when it disturbs or distresses a person, is unwanted noise. Barking is therefore assaultive. ---o0o--- Late note, 25 Nov 09: A lawyer at Tasmania's Legal Aid Commission, having consulted with her colleagues, declared that those committing barking offences ARE committing crimes. I'm not sure, but it seems that if an enforcement agency can bring a prosecution against an offender then the matter is a criminal matter. The guidance of those who know the legal facts would be welcome ... Peter Bright

Peter, I wholeheartedly agree with all you have said. We are plagued with a yapping dog (pomeranian) owned by the tenants of the house next door. We are property owners but it seems these inconsiderate tenants have more rights that we. They (a household of 4 adults and a 3 year old of their daughter) just yell at the dog to SHUT UP. It is corralled underneath the house day in and day out. It is never exercised but is fed and watered. The 3 year old is also untrained in that she screams until she gets what she wants. Therefore our problem is two-fold. We are being audio assaulted from 2 angles. I constantly contact the property manager at the real estate office but very little is done. We live in Queensland so don't know if the laws on noise are the same as your state. Anyone have any suggestions. We are at our wit's end.

Hello Mary, I'm well aware of the problem you mention and with my anti-barking colleagues interstate and overseas I have been battling for effective reforms for nearly a decade. Unfortunately we have found that sensible reforms occur at much the same speed as dead horses win races. The politicians in a democracy side with the majority, and the majority loves its dogs - or so it claims. If owners truly loved their dogs then these incarcerated animals would not emit the distress cry that we call barking. Things are changing slowly nowadays, not because of the growing number of barking complaints but because dog attacks are up. It seems some people don't like having their arms or jaw ripped off as has happened recently, and others don't like being killed by them. We Peace Warriors have two long-term anti-barking activists in Queensland - one in Maryborough and another in Bundaberg. The very capable Maryborough pensioner will certainly want to assist you and I invite you to email me for her address. In the meantime I suggest that you carefully study everything on my informative websites Quiet Tasmania at and Quiet Tasmania News at which have been made available at my own expense in the public interest to help people like you. Queensland's barking laws will be somewhat different from Tasmania's but both will be accessible on the Internet. I'm happy to inform readers that the 'Quiet' movement has begun to take off in the USA, for example at Quiet Arizona where the originator Ms Catherine Sienko acted on my suggestion of 16th December 2008 to start one herself. Note her helpful link back to Quiet Tasmania! Several more US 'Quiet' websites are being constructed as we speak. More and more citizens, just like you Mary, are becoming increasingly distressed - and yet they are finding that the so-called enforcement bodies won't raise a finger to help. It seems they have found that the barking problem is out of control and so rather than issue infringement notices and use the money ($240 a pop) to secure order, as the legislation requires of them, they simply give up and pretend there's no problem. If there's no problem then they don't have to investigate. It's a blatant cop-out. Barking and dog attacks are related. Peter Bright Hobart Tasmania

Peter, I wholeheartedly agree with all you have said. We are plagued with a yapping dog (pomeranian) owned by the tenants of the house next door. We are property owners but it seems these inconsiderate tenants have more rights that we. They (a household of 4 adults and a 3 year old of their daughter) just yell at the dog to SHUT UP. It is corralled underneath the house day in and day out. It is never exercised but is fed and watered. The 3 year old is also untrained in that she screams until she gets what she wants. Therefore our problem is two-fold. We are being audio assaulted from 2 angles. I constantly contact the property manager at the real estate office but very little is done. We live in Queensland so don't know if the laws on noise are the same as your state. Anyone have any suggestions. We are at our wit's end.

I listened to that recording. It's the most grotesque, environmentally hideous assault on a neighbouring domestic soundscape that I've ever heard. Oh, give me the day when someone sues one of these belligerent noise-makers for everything they own. Oh, for a personal damages claim so huge that those who allow (and defend) the rights of dogs to bark would never, ever attempt to force their barking dogs, their self-righteous justifications or their under-informed denials on another decent-living human being. The person who put that sound-track out there would be a candidate for post-traumatic disorder. What a disgraceful indictment on society.

What recourse do victims of nuisance dog barking have? Posted July 18th, 2009 by James Sinnamon... I read the text and felt I wrote it myself in nearly every words... I talked several times to my neighbors about their barking dogs and loud music but at the end felt like I was the nuisance... The Council asked me to keep a record, diary of the barking, then when done told me that they needed at least three complaints from surrounding houses... so, this time recording barking was a pure waste for me... other people I talked to do not wish to be involved in complaints even if telling me they are suffering from the same nuisance as I do...

To Vincent Anonymous, Only deal with local council about nuisance barking dogs if you want to have nothing done, waste your time and get frustrated and annoyed in the process. Civil action is the only way to legally deal with barking dogs. The area of law concerned is 'private nuisance', which is not a crime, but a private dispute. Contact your local solicitor (preferably one with experience and success in this specialty), record all costs and take civil action against the dog owner. Make sure you have first identified the correct dog and verified the correct owner. In Victoria, as a start read: and similar approaches would be available in other Australian states. If you win, the dog owner must pay your legal costs and probably a fine and be legally required to keep the dog silent. Also if you win, publise the outcome as a deterrent to other selfish and neglectful dog owners. But if you lose, you pay the dog owners legal costs. The case could cost $8000 and be drawn out by immoral dodgy solicitors of the dog owners, but this is the legal option. There are illegal options, like 1080, but outside the scope of this website. But beware, some dog owners are like their dogs. One recent criminal case in Sydney resulted in the complaining neighbour, Joseph Durrant, being stabbed to death by the dog owners in June 2007. Katrina Megan Whitmore is currently serving 10 years and her brother Frederick Reyon Whitmore is serving 4 years each for murder. :) Hope this helps. Tiger Quoll Snowy River 3885 Australia

Wow, thank you all for just writing a few words, I don't feel alone anymore... I learnt the hard way that I should have shut my mouth. ...
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Forcing anyone into court is risky. For the ordinary citizen, courtrooms are alien places seething with tension and loaded with the potential for hurt. Despite this, I am considering forcing Tasmania's state housing authority there for its refusal to comply with its own Tenancy Agreements prohibiting health damage to its tenants through invasive cigarette smoke. As with councils called upon to deal with a barking complaint, this authority denies everything. A very long-term anti-barking Queensland colleague sent me this message today .. "Re what is or is not allowable in Court. As I have pointed out thousands of times, going to Court is not advisable for the ordinary person no matter what evidence they have. The outcome is never guaranteed, and the plaintiff could be landed with thousands of dollars in court costs, etc. If Council will take a complaint to Court, well and good - but as we know they never will. " Peter Bright

Hello all. I am a victim of severe dog barking. So was another neighbour of mine and many friends at work. The issues of keeping pets are now so clear to me and I know exactly what is needed. NO JOKE! My family was forced out of our home due to years of animal noises and drumming. It started with two years of drumming, thump, thump, thumping right through our home at a very rapid beat. The bass drum could not be heard in the front room until one lay their head on the pillow. You know sound travels further and faster through solid objects. As a shift worker, you try and sleep in the morning while this is going on. Begging pleading, making demands and threats to all I could to have it resolved. It finally stopped. Three months later, that very same neighour introduced us to dog barking. Every minute of every day was punctuated with barks and yaps. nearly another two years of this. At the same time, the neighbour next door to them (we were behind) was having troubles with the way these people conducted themselves in the street with noise and other goings on. We were labelled as malicious, vindictive, whingers and all sorts of things. Told to get a life etc.. Council did very little to stop the issues, same as the Police. Infact, the Police refused to enforce a law that they are nominated as the primary authority to be able to issue a charge of an offence, UNCONDITIONALLY! Yep, we love our pets, and I loved the dogs I new in my family before I got married. I never got pets because I always felt it was not suited to my lifestyle and that I did not want such a burden. I did not want to clean up after them, I did not want to train them, I did not want to deal with noise and smell issues that may come from having a pet in the neighbourhood. I was man enough to view the full list of considerations one should have before buying a pet. I bought a fish tank and never filled it because I had second thoughts of what it entails, having had fish tanks filled with fish in my youth (I was very enthusiastic about African Cichlids - fish back then). The issue is all about consideration with a broad view. The only way for people to consider properly these issues associated with pet ownership is through education. Some people are very panoramic in their views on many isues and may be able to consider these things before they are swayed by impulse. The following are absolutely what is needed to resolve these issues of human suffering in our communities, animal sudering and cruelty as well. !. Do a course of animal care FOR ANY PET! 2. Get a licence to acquire ANY PET! 3. Get permission from the neighbours to obtain any pet that may affect their quality of life. 4. Present these documents to your council, or council may manage this procedure. 5. Prove ou have a proper, child roof enclosure for any pet. 6. Keep, train, maintain the health of any pet your own and contol its noise immediately! 7. Government must consider residential zones that are deemed pet free! 8. Specific laws on dog breed and size must be included in the licensing procedure; a) A person must be informed of how to keep larger, more powerful dogs, which may cause harm to other people and animals. b) A person must be educated on breed needs and suitability to suburban, or country lifestyles. c) A person must learn about their responsibilities on pet ownership and the laws. 9. Compulsory insurance for any pet owner must be introduced so that those attacked by an animal being kept as a pet have access to full compensations needed for complete rehabitation or ongoing health expences. 10. Owners of animals that roam or cause serious injury to be held to account and face gaol terms if found negligent or contributing to the conditions where an injury by an animal resulted. 11. Barking is something that must be stopped AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, as it is known to cause health problems in communities. So these are very basic concepts. In consideration before getting a dog, one must be very aware of barking problems. There is no excuse to cause a disturbance in the neighbourhood, and barking victims know all too well how damaging barking can be. Damages for me because of a barking dog, squawking bird and bad neighbours are ongoing. I was forced out of my home, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars lost to do so. I am forced to travel further to my work, costing me every week around thrity dollars. I was forced out of a municipality that showed no concern for my well being or no effort to enforce the laws. I have not been able to resolve this issue and I am now fighting this issue years after I have moved out of the troubled area. I am angry and I want justice, something that continually evades me to this day. The introduction of laws as I have described may resolve these issues for me, because I know, the very moment I have to deal with another barking dog issue, I will have years of torment on my hands, years more of injustice and may agian have a cost associated with it. There goes my retirement. Oh yeah, money I could put aside for my retirement is now significantly reduced, and we know the direction government is heading with pensions these days. So barking will have affected my life to my dying days. I am only 43 years old, still have many years to work. You may consider a dog to be important to you and a "BENEFIT", but I assure you, many that have had dogs and made the conscious decision to not get a dog again have told me they have been liberated, have much more time for their family and better holidays and have so much more money available than before. Yep, get a dog if you like, but take aboard all the aspects of dog ownership too. And just because no neighbours complain about your dogs barking, does not mean it is not a disturbance. QUiet your dogs anyway, just to show you have consideration and compassion for your neighbours needs too.
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Vincent, your story is typical and it's happening everywhere. It's a standard council trick to require the victim of barking to keep a diary. The illicit purpose, under cover of pretending to need evidence, is to defer its involvement indefinitely. I know a Melbourne man who carefully logged local barking for over a year - only to find his council ignored the lot. This tormented man and his family eventually had to relocate to the countryside. I'm not aware of any state's dog laws that demand the keeping of a diary. If a council demands such evidence let it compile it itself. Keeping a diary yourself exacerbates your distress. Don't do it. The refusal of neighbours to get involved is also standard human behaviour. It's rooted in cowardice and fear of retaliation. Bad dog owners are often bullies and the neighbours know it. You may learn more at and you may apply for membership of the US barkingdogs discussion group at Peter Bright

By the way, my problems with my neighbours are now lasting since around 2 years, with barking dogs (having at one stage six dogs... four fortunately removed by the Council.) and now, occasional Saturdays/Sundays loud music. I talked to my neighbours more than 6/7 times, so one can't say I didn't try to fix the problem on my own... They always promised to fix the nuisance but never did it. Last incident, the police had been called by a neighbour for loud music and probably for swearing (?) and by me as I was threatened (for some reasons that escape me) and called names repeatedly even in the presence of the two policemen, the mother and son were obviously pretty drunk. Names which when repeated to my friends, they advised me never to use them... I was wishfully thinking about getting support from some neighbours in the street who could suffer from barking/loud music nuisances but first it has to be anonymous as people refuse to get involved and second I'm French, often regarded as a migrant who took the land of the real "true blue OZ"... (What are the first inhabitant of the continent then, true brown???) Anyway, not only I feel dumped by the Council with their stupid diary recording of barking (That the man from the pond advised me to fill again for each barking dogs despite telling me he needs at least 3 complaints from 3 different neighbours and after I told him no one around is going to make one) but I feel like an idiot each time I complained, which I stopped as soon as I got the concept... The local policeman told me you are wasting your time... despite having said just before: "You know what's going to happen now you called me, I know them (neighbours) they are sh... givers and won't let you in peace..." I tried twice the mediation but the neighbours refuse it. The police advised me to keep calling when the music is played but are so far away that they need 20m to be on the spot. I even feel ashamed to take their precious time... At a last resource I'm thinking about writing a letter to my neighbours to invite them to a mediation, mentioning nicely and courteously what the problems are... Could someone please help with this letter by giving me some samples, advices about what I should do?

Dear Vincent, There are some neighbourhood problems that degrade to a level where peace is unlikely. A lawyer experienced in neighbourhood problems once advised "For cases that disintegrate so badly, one of two things will happen. The troublemakers will move, probably for some completely unrelated reason, or the victim will be forced to move." We know that for many hapless recipients of dog (and music) noise, being forced out of home with its associated costs can be unaffordable. However, the fact is many years of unhappiness, family disruption, constant tension and sleep disturbance, can indeed cause psycho/physiological illness, so even with the relocation costs and risks that the same hideous dog noise will occur elsewhere, there's always a chance that moving may be an improvement, even if nearby dogs are not as appropriately managed as they should be. If it's just one idiot dog-owner next door who doesn't exhibit a multitude of unsocial behaviours, and it's limited to dog noise, a small minority of troubled people do work through the issue. Unfortunately, retribution for complaining about dog noise is the rule, and not the exception. If your neighbour's mindset has been to use music as a weapon of retaliation, and the police describe them as sh..givers, I think you have the misfortune to be living beside unchangeable recalcitrants. If I were in your shoes, I would consider all possibilities to remove my family from an unhealthy living environment. However, everyone's circumstances and resistance levels are different, and we all have to do the best we can with the personal resources at our disposal. I'm very sorry about what is happening to you and understand your desperation, having documented hundreds of similar case studies. Thus far there's insufficient research on this noise source, although it can be categorised as "impulse sound". Focused dog barking research will be required in order to convince government, policitians and bureaucrat decision-makers about the serious consequences on the large numbers of families, children, aged, sick, dying, shiftworkers and single home occupants who are forced to endure ongoing misery. The human health costs are under-estimated. Very often recipients of dog noise feel unable to express the depth of their distress and when they attempt to do so, they are not acknowledged, and they are often humiliated. So their suffering is compounded, and some will even begin to doubt that what they are feeling is a normal reaction - it most certainly is. I can only wish that matters will improve, and that you are in a position to somehow seek out and achieve a better way ahead.

Keep hitting the council. If you are in Victoria, Police can issue fines or charges under the law. My best advice is to learn the law. Go to the internet and find the law for your state, then your local law. The state laws are superiour or Local Laws are Sub-ordinate to state laws. If you understand the laws, you have a better chance of getting them enforced. I would keep complaining to the council though. Call them all the time. Visit them and go to council meetings. Make sure you get involved by asking questions about the law in council. Keep complaining. Keep emailing ministers for local government and ministers of primary industry. Keep mailing your neighbours who are not the dog owners and ask them to join you or war will break out in your street in which they may get hurt. Ask them for support or you may subpeona them to court anyway. No one wants to go to court so they may get the message and support you. Just go hammer and tong to get the peace you are entitled to. Just be persistent and never be silenced. NEver believe what council says if they say things like, "we must be fair to the dog owner" for if that is the case, they are not being fair to you. "We have to careful of malicious complainants" and ask them if they consider your complaints as malicious. "We do not want to get involved in neighbourhood disputes", dog barking is not a neighbourhood dispute, it is an unlawful condition being maintained by a dog owner for which you are a victim! "We will not investigate your complaint as we suspect there is another un-related issue" and as such, ask the council to provide proof of such issue and how it relates to dog barking, because this is the biggest joke of all and very misleading. Council officers and managers throw these lines out, and the un-suspecting public buy them, usually. But if they say something, never believe it and ask how that affects your dog barking issue and why are they not stopping the barking. Managers get used to throwing out lines like this and downplaying things. Just do not put up with it and do not relent until they promice to stop the barking. If the barking continues, at this point, do not blame the dog owner, it is councils fault! FIght them!

It is best if the offending dog just simply dissappears. Society has a highly unjustified love of dogs, and barking is just an anti-social side affect of keeping dogs in our communities. The effort to quiet dogs is wasted for victims of barking and the owners are just as useless at controlling their dogs as are councils enforcing poor or even suitable laws. The easiest by far solution is that the offending dog just happens to disappear. I do not know how it happens, I moved house at great expense because of noisy dogs and animals in my neighbourhood. I have known people to move many times because of barking dogs. When will Government get a grip on this issue, I can not tell you. So at this time or until Government enforces quiet of dog in our communities, dissappearing dogs may just be on the increase.

The present Australian of the Year would do better concerning himself with documented accounts from the thousands of Australians who are suffering stress-related illness and sleep disturbance from neighbouring barking dogs, than focusing on the mental health of illegal detainees comfortably housed at taxpayer expense in the Christmas Island Motel. It's disgusting that Australians who pay their rates, pay their taxes, trouble nobody, yet encounter a myriad of unnecessary difficulties in having a dog quietened, are treated like second-class citizens. The only way to get real action from self-serving politicians is to thoroughly embarrass them. Depending on the known personal and financial circumstances of the offending dog owner, a strong lawyer's warning can do wonders, if the complainant is comfortable about being named (and therein lies well understood and serious personal safety danger). Beyond that, it's going to take a hefty civil damages case that empties out one of their bank accounts. The only language understood by socially corrupt, insensitive, brainless, cruel, uncaring, rude and often violent psychopath keepers of barking dogs, would be the sound of dollar notes exiting their wallets.

This contribution has been copied to and my comments added. Please add comments on that page, or else, to , which is linked to from that page. Comments on this page are closed because of a problem with the linking of comments beyond the first page. - Ed. I feel so very sorry for the humans in Tasmania that have to rely on a self serving city council that does not have laws that protect humans from noise pollution. In the United States the owners of those dogs would be fined and or in jail or both. It is recognized world wide that dog barking per the World Health Organization is noise pollution that is hazardous to human health. I would look at a class action law suit against your city and or the owners of the pets to mitigate the noise, seeking damages and restitution for pain, suffering and loss of useful right of your property which includes the right to quiet in your own residence. How dare any of them take your right to quiet for granted. To allow and animal more rights than a human is disgusting.

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