THE TOUGH CUSTOMER- Barking dogs: There ought to be a law

The incessant barking of a neighbor's dog presents an unenviable choice. On the one hand, you can complain, but– besides risking an ongoing disagreement– one risks appearing mean to innocent puppies.

Several outraged comments posted to a recent Hook "Gimme Shelter" column ["Barking dog blues: Talk before taking legal action," December 6] on this topic, written by Albemarle County's animal control unit supervisor Sgt. Peter Mainzer, demonstrate the intensity of feeling surrounding the issue. There's even a nascent web site devoted to the subject,

A situation involving Dr. John Hong (yes, that Dr. John Hong, our own "Dr. Hook") who lives in Albemarle County, recently came to our attention. According to an early January letter Hong wrote to Officer Kim Maddox of the Albemarle Police Department's animal control unit, Hong's neighbor "leaves his dogs unattended when he travels. On October 5-7 when my parents came to visit, his dogs howled and barked all day and night so none of us could sleep."

Hong spoke to his neighbor, who promised not to leave the three dogs outside again. Hong claims, however, that his neighbor "didn't keep his word and 12/22 – 12/25 his dogs howled and barked from 9pm to 7am every night."

Another of Hong's neighbors, Jason Hall, confirms the dogs had been left outside and barked all night "maybe five times" recently.

It's unclear whether the dogs pose any threat beyond disturbs sleep and the peaceful enjoyment of home. Hong claims they're dangerous, but Maddox wrote Hong that there is no court order confirming that. However, according to Hall, the dogs killed a cat several years ago and recently "chewed up"– but didn't kill– a small dog in the neighborhood. Although Hall acknowledges that the small dog was off leash and partially responsible for that scrape, he describes the barking dogs as "super aggressive." 

But the issue here is the dogs' barking and its intrusion on the peace that Hong ought to enjoy in his own home. Hong's biggest hurdle, however, is that, according to Officer Maddox, no county law restricts barking dogs.

After receiving Hong's complaint, Maddox did call the neighbor, whom she describes as "very nice," and told Hong the neighbor would contact Hong directly to discuss the matter. Hong says that never happened.

So he took the next step, which was to ask the Animal Control Unit to set up mediation with the neighbor to address the issue, for which Hong was willing to pay. This is Hong's second biggest hurdle. The neighbor refused to participate, and no party can be forced into mediation, according to Maddox.

For his part, Hong's neighbor says he understands Hong's feelings, claims he has taken steps to prevent the barking from recurring, including disconnecting the doggie door at his house to keep the dogs inside and kenneling the dogs when he leaves town.

The neighbor also believes the question of his willingness to participate in mediation, which he calls a good idea, has been misinterpreted. "I don't know how [Officer Maddox] could have misconstrued me," he says.

Be that as it may, believing that other efforts have failed, Hong eventually turned to his attorney. And although Hong has not yet filed suit, Hong's neighbor said he has heard from Hong's lawyer. 

Unlike Albemarle, the City of Charlottesville has a specific law against barking and howling dogs, according to Lisa Miller in the City Attorney's office. A conviction can result in a fine of up to $250, and three convictions in one year can result in a court order to remove the dog.

Officials concede this is a frequent problem, but designing an effective law in Albemarle County, parts of which are densely populated and parts of which are rural, could pose complications. Ideally, Hong and his neighbor will solve their problem amicably, but the lack of a legal framework seems to suggest trouble in the future.

Got a consumer situation? Call the Hook newsroom at 295-8700x405 or email the Tough Customer directly.



Bark Action Group is the result of perpetuating dog barking issues, Those that enforce the laws say that they have to be balanced and be fair to the dog owner. The sad fact is that the balance is tipped so far in favour of the dog owner, that people are forgetting the suffering of the poor barking victim. I ask quite realisticly, how long is a victim of dog barking expected to have the peace in their own home returned to them. Sleep deprivation and disturbances to normal home activities continues whilst whilst dog owners and animal control officers try and get their act together.

Far too often, the poor victim has to resort to repeating their report of a dog barking issue to the animal control authority. This can result in years and years of insane and unlawful dog barking hell for victims. The victim often gets labelled as malicious, vexatious and vindictive. Assumptions of other neighbourhood dispute issues are bandied about by animal control. This is the point where animal control has lost control.

Mediation is a hopeless and useless avenue of approach to the situation. It is neither compulsory, not are the outcomes binding by law. Whee the laws clearly state that barking dogs must be controlled, mediation is not required. You have in every barking case, an offender and a victim. You have a law and a person clearly intent on breaking that law. It is time animal control took these views on board. Stop harboring law breakers and enforce the law!

I declare, that if a dog barking situation continues for more than two weeks, it has continued on for too long. I declare that dog barking can be controlled in two days. I declare that our communities are built primarily for the habitation of the human species and dogs and other pets are of secondary concern. Being the primary species in our communities, it is essential that all tax paying, rate paying, hard working and voting citizen has a right to peace in their own homes, and dog barking is far from a healthy thing to be subjected to, not is it an absolute need in our communities.

Put the balance of law enforcement right and stop delaying on the enforcement of laws on dog barking issues.

Matthew Ridgeway
Bark Action Group
PO Box 194
Hampton Park
Victoria 3976

Bark Action Group will continue to exist as a web site, but, it has been found that the barking and dog attack issues are far to common and both need adressing. Victims OF Domestic Animal Attacks and Noise has been created to cover the wider areas of the negative impact animals have in our communities. (VODAAN) You can visit the VODAAAN web site at

Quiet Tasmania is an Australian website set up to help those adversely affected by Noise, particularly barking.

You can enter this comprehensive website here at

and you can access proposed new dog laws here at

Peter Bright

There is verifiable science to show that the functional driving capability of humans who are awake for a 17-hour period - and need to drive - are doing so with the equivalent deficits of 0.05 blood alcohol content. Take this further. Rise at 5.30 am, retire at 10.30. Neighbour's dog interrupts your sleep with a few unwanted, intrusive woofs every hour or so. By the time you need to drive next day, you have achieved the scientific road capability of a motorist with a blood alcohol content of double the above! So any police officer who ignores a request for the quietening - ongoing - of a barking dog - is directly contributing to crash statistics. Adequate is not only a human right, it is a functional necessity.

Further to my contribution above, the last sentence should read: "Adequate sleep...". In addition, interruptions from invasive noise at certain times of the circadian rhythm completely destroy the value of human sleep. Those who permit their dogs to deliver barking sound into the premises of their neighbours, will one day find themselves culpable for resultant occupational health and road accidents. Then there is the human right for children to sleep, study, play and communicate with their parents - free of the distracting sound generated by barking dogs (or any other unwanted community noises). Neighbours will say "dogs bark, that is their nature." Well - a civil society decrees certain standards on humans' natural behaviours. Toileting is a natural process for humans, but we do not offend the senses of others by imposing it on others. There are some behaviours that our society must control. Barking dogs is gathering momentum as high on that list. If dog owners do not get the growing message, they will bring about their own demise as new research brings about long-awaited change - just as second-hand cigarette smoke is no longer accepted, so will be the case with second-hand, force-fed noise from barking dogs.

Bark Action Group is at the point of the spear in the battle to get lout dog owners to act responsibly. Dogs owned by non responsible people kill scores and put hundreds of thousands of people in the hospital via savage dog attacks. They torment millions of quiet decent people with toxic levels of dog noise pollution damaging their health and in some cases- driving them out of their homes.. Animal control is not effective. In to many cases they are an enabling agency for bad dog ownership.

We need real laws that require dog owners to accept responsibility for the actions of their charges. Tolerance for toxic levels of dog noise pollution is directly linked to the epidemic of dog attacks in the western world.

If you doubt this- I suggest you google news search "dog attacks" and take a good look at the carnage created by lout dog owners.

I am sorry that Dr Hong has been subjected to this. I do not know what type of doctor he is. But I would not want my medical provider to be tormented by crass dog owners and toxic dog noise pollution sleep deprivation on the days that he was treating me. Would you?

I get woken up more often by loud car exhausts and subwoofers than four legged woofers.

People sleep through trains, planes and automobiles and once you "know" the tone of the dog thats barking your mind will cut it out the same way... if you let it... If you have a moral issue about it then your mind will instead "focus" on the sound. Sort of like people who sleep through firetrucks and thunderstorms but would awaken in an instant if they heard the tumblers turn super quietly in the house locks at three am.

Just food for thought.

Dogs bark for a reason just as babies cry for a reason. Figure it out and you might be able to stop it. But when you live in the country where dogs are allowed to run free and can bark at your door whenever they like you get a white-noise machine. My 2 year old can nap through any barking with that on in his room. Just something to think about.

To Living with Nature: Yes, babies certainly cry for a reason, and oftentimes the reason is that they are under duress from unnecessarily stressful neighbourhood noise. I feel sure that most people would not want, for example, the sound of someone else's baby crying inside their bedroom. Similarly, many people do not want someone else's dog barking inside their bedroom, especially when sleep is desperately needed. Sometimes it is more than one dog at a time, or a chain of barking as one dog stirs up an entire neighbourhood. There is no known device ("white noise machine") that replaces the right to quiet inside one's own home and a recipient of unwanted barking should never be put to the expense of remedying someone else's noise. The boundary line of my property is where my neighbour's lifestyle ends, and mine begins, and vice versa. It is not "normal" for dogs to bark. Veterinarians will confirm that in earlier times, dogs did not bark at all. They learned the habit of barking through modern confinement against their pack-roaming nature. If you are subjecting your 2-year old to barking noise, and protecting the owner of the offending animal by temporarily remedying unlawful behaviour with something as questionably efficient as a "white noise machine", then what would you do if your neighbours began to deliver into your home amplified music, interfering with your adult sleep, enjoyment of reading, television, radio or family communications? A white noise machine won't stop that racket. Would you justify delivery of that kind of discomfort into your home by responding that "people play very loud music"?

To: Chuck Wagon. I see your reasoning, but that reasoning is usually proffered by persons who either defend the rights of dog-owners to keep untrained animals, and ignores the rights of home-dwellers to enjoy their personal space. We all have an area of personal space that we do not want violated without invitation. This is the case with barking dogs. If you doubt the dangers being discussed here, take a good look at the World Health Organisation's research and their warnings. If you are dying of a brain tumour, or caring for someone in the last stages of their life, when relaxation and sleep are necessary as nature dictates, then a white noise machine would be as useful as an ashtray on a motor bike. There are laws against this for important health reasons.

Barking Dog Supporters:

If a barking dog supporter can answer one question, perhaps I can better understand why dog owners should be allowed to create noise pollution.
The question is, if you introduce a disturbance to an area and allow it to bark in the early morning hours and leave this noise unchecked, why do you feel it is your right to impose your noise pollution on others and intrude within their house and disturb their sleep?
Hopefully there will be some intelligent response so I can better understand the mindset. Thanks!

Living with Nature:
You obviously are naive to think a 2 year olds brain is developed enough to know a bark from a fart. Unless your 2 year old goes to work, has daily life stresses, has a busy schedule or is a light sleeper I'd say your point is mute. When your 2 year old has exams and stresses of a real life, report back to us how it's sleep is going and your white-noise.

Chucky: What if there are multiple dogs with different barks? Does your brain need to say that is Spot or that is Rex? You have no clue do you? Something tells me at 3:00 AM a dog is not barking for 2 hours at your house.

The real solution is for the owner to investigate why their alarm (dog barking) is sounding just like you would do if your car alarm goes off.

This is not about being anti-dog, just anti-noise pollution.

Again, I must stress, our communities are built primarily for HUMAN habitation. The rights to peace in our own homes over dog barking should be the priority. As a previously in my family, we had three dogs, and if barking began, we would get off our backsides, investigate and control. This should be a knee jerk reaction for every dog owner. Controlling your dog is a dog owners responsibility and is a requirement by law generally.

Failure to control dog barking is a sign of animal neglect. I would be concerned as to the mental and physical health of any dog that barks to the point it creates a disturbance in any neighbourhood. It is cruel to expect your neighbours to tolerate your dogs barking. It is also rude and far from polite community living.

There is no excuse for dog barking to be excessive to the point it creates a disturbance in the neighbourhood. Barking dog owners need to evaluate their values and expectations, as your lifestyle choices should NEVER cause disruptions in your own community. To increase the liveability in your area, for goodness sake, dog owner whose dogs bark, please get active and learn to respond to the barking and control it immediately. I did, my brothers and sister did as well as my parents. How hard can it be to control your dogs barking? Not very hard, I know, I have been there!

Albermarle Officials and elected representatives need to review their stand on dog barking. Clearly it is a negligent and irresponsible dog owner that creates dog barking disturbances in your communities. It is time that these disturbances were tidied up in a responsible timely fashion. If the barking issue persists for more than two weeks, it has persisted for too long and must be addressed. I believe that barking issues can be tidied up by the dog owner in two days. It probably is not a hard task anyway, so dog owners give it a go OK. Yes, dogs bark, that is what they do, and knowing this, dog owners should be responsive and controlling. Using the excuse of natural behaviour is lame. A dog will naturally obey a responsible dog owner on dog barking events.

Matthew Ridgeway
PO Box 194
Hampton Park
Victoria 3976

If you are a dog lover and your dog is bothering other peole who need to sleep to work- you need a reality check. WTH makes you think you have the right to torment others with your idiotic dogs racket?.

Why do you think you have the right to inflict your noisy dog loving life style on quiet decent people who want to be able to rest and relax in their own homes?

You have every right to have a dog you DO NOT have a right to torture quiet people with dog noise, subject them to physical risk with your dog or subject them to envirionmental pollution with your dog.

Have a dog if you are capable of training it and stopping it from bothering others.

If not- best you get a gold fish instead of a untrained dog as a pet.

Many dog owners are using their dogs as weapons to destroy communities with noise pollution and even to cause physical harm. In light of this fact dog ownership needs to be controlled and regulated. No one should have the right to own a dog. Indeed most people should not own a dog since dogs require so much time and attention to properly care for. Dog owners who use their dogs as weapons or simply can not or will not control their animals should be subject to fines, confiscation of their dog(s), and a permanent injunction from ever owning any animal again. These people should not be allowed to continue to abuse and destroy the community and the dogs. Those who wish to continue the status quo hate both people and dogs.

After the horrrific dog murder of innocent grandmother Lilian Stiles the great state of Texas put laws in place that give realistic punishment to those who kill and maim with their dogs.

The cause of this was the fact that the unresponsible owner of the pack of dogs that pulled Ms Stiles down and killed her on her own property was not punished at all.

Right now in Texas there are dog owners who are headed to jail because their savage uncontrolled animals have attacked and put children in the hospital- after disfiguring them for life.

This is the first time that realistic laws have been put in place that make dog owners accept responsibility for the misery that they create by not controlling their dogs.

If you can't stop your dogs from spewing noise that creates a problem for the unlucky people who live next to you you probably can't control them at all and should not be allowed to own them.

The whole nation should put the same realistic Texan realistic and fair dog laws on the books and stop dogs from being used as weapons.

.177 HMR

Sounds tempting and perhaps if the BOS see a few cases where people are driven to act they will understand the need for a nuisance dog barking ordinance.
Wasn't there a case of dogs being poisoned a few years ago? Hmmmm...I wonder if those dogs would be alive today IF the BOS would have done the right thing and updated the noise ordinance.

BTW-are you for hire? :)

Clearly, there is a problem, and those that like the sound of dogs barking, find out if you can buy a dog barking CD. Then you can put your headphones on and enjoy. The fact is, dog barking is an unpleasent sound, and I do not wish to hear it in my own home thank you very much. My home is for me. My home is not a theatre for dog noise. Regardless of the volume, frequency and tone, I am not interested in dog barking.

So dog owners, if it is your choice to listen to dog barking, do it in a way that does not affect me, or anyone else for that matter. I feel this is a fair and reasonable view on this topic.

If I had a noisy elephant or and intermittent Harley Davidson I am sure you dog owners would complaint to tthe hilt about it.

Stop the one sided views on this BOS and get with reality.

Stop dog barking now.

Matthew Ridgeway
PO Box 194
Hampton Park
Victoria 3976

Stop the trains, the planes the automobiles, the trash trucks, thunderstorms and school buses.

I need my sleep.

Great new dog control website above- just found it
Hard hitting realistic infomation- they have a b-board for news sharing news about bad dog non responsible owner issues as well.

Check it out and send it to others who are being bothered by noisy dog jerks!

Great stuff!

Matt Ridgeway,
If you happen to live next door to an airport, you're pretty screwed. I'll give you that. As for the cars, trains, and trucks, none of them linger directly outside of my bedroom window. They simply pass by. Oh yeah, and they tend to be during the day while I'm at work. For those who work nights and/or strange shifts? Been there and done that and it is a slight disadvantage.

You still can't escape the fact that the owners who won't do anything about THEIR dogs are huge jerk faces in addition to noise pollutants and assailants against EVERYONE ELSE'S peace, and the authorities do NOTHING about it!

Nuisance, a common law tort, can be used to bring a lawsuit here in Texas. There are other tort laws available with which to attack back. If you wait for the bureaucracy to help, you'll die of old age, listening to dogs bark all night, every night.

I have a dog next door that barks a lot.

I have only seen the dog once. The owners had him/her in a muzzle putting him/her into their vehicle.

My dog only barks when someone comes to the door. She is in the house unless we are outside with her. She watches every move we make and makes us laugh constantly. She is part of our family. She wouldn't let anyone into our household she didn't trust.

The dog next door is left outside 24/7.

It is so simple. Don't use a beautiful animal for security if you don't want to have them also as a famiy member.

To my neighbor upstairs:

My dog barks at night for two reasons. Someone at my door, invited or otherwise, and when your son and his friends tromp all over the floor and up and down the stairs at 3 or 4 in the morning.

You woke him up first. I approve of his reaction. I'd do it too, but my bark sucks.

To the other neighbors, if my dog woke you up where the upstairs neighbor didn't, then I'm sorry, but we do have the right to complain same as you do for being woke up. Point is, noise disturbance is a community problem, and you can't fairly blame the immediate source without seeking out the root disturbance.

To Matthew:

I do respect your right to quiet, yet I defend my dog's job of alerting me to things.

You owe it to responsible dog owners to evaluate fairly each incident. Sometimes a noisy dog is doing the right thing, and I'm sure if a dog alerted you to a prowler going from yard to yard, and let you prevent him from coming into -your- house simply by turning on the lights, you'd develop a hint of appreciation for them.

Let me try to explain why "canis lupus familiaris" is deserving of at least a little slack, and your ire is more properly directed at irresponsible owners only.

The clearest fossil evidence shows dogs in the company of humans as far as 15K years ago. Think of what we were then: little more than smooth skinned upright apes, wearing animal skin loincloths to protect our balls from being bitten off by pack predators. Our tools would have been rocks lashed to sticks with more animal skin, and either banging rocks together or rubbing sticks to start fires.

Enter the ice age. Food gets scarce, and predators get bolder and smarter if they want to survive. Increased threat of becoming prey plus outright competition for limited resources creates a powerful pressure to adapt.

Animals had been eating scraps from us and other animals alike for millions of years, but now the pressure is turned up. Very simply, the animal that shows up first and stays the longest is the best fed.

It turned out that the grey wolf was the one that learned to approach us in peace, while we were still there, to get the best scraps. Our food was enticing already, being cooked, and humans were cooperating to take down prey larger than ourselves.

Those early dogs that actually chose to make their dens in ours got the most benefit of human abilities, and those humans most willing to welcome the dogs got the most benefit of a legitimate apex predator protecting them at night.

Bottom line, homo sapiens may well have failed to achieve dominance without our canine allies. They have been central parts of our families, not at all secondary, for at least fifteen thousand years.

Anti social behaviour
Are you often kept awake by noisy neighbours, alarms or dogs barking? Is your neighbourhood regularly vandalised?
Find out who to report anti social behaviour to
Noise nuisance
Councils have powers to act upon complaints regarding noise. A noise nuisance can be anything from loud music or barking dogs, to construction noise, people shouting, alarms and much more.
What is anti- social behaviour?
Anti-social behaviour (ASB) covers a wide range of behaviour that affects people in a negative way.
Built environment
Information on street lighting, CCTV, roadside car sales and fly posting.
Graffiti is seen as criminal damage in the eyes of the law, and carries a maximum custodial sentence of 10 years for people over 18 years old. This page includes information on how to report graffiti in your area.
Environmental crime
Criminal damage can take many forms, but put in simple terms, is the unlawful destruction or defacement of property. This section includes Information on fly tipping, rubbish and litter and dog fouling.

Nuisance Neighbours and Anti Social Behaviour

What's it all about?

Anti-Social Behaviour can be anything from low level persistent nuisance to serious violence and other criminal behaviour. It includes all behaviour which impacts negatively on people's quality of life in and around their community.

As a tenant, you are responsible for the behaviour of all visitors and other members of the household. Anti-Social Behaviour can be caused by a noisy party, groups of people shouting or graffiti. Even pets and animals can cause a nuisance by continually barking or running around into neighbour's gardens.

If you are experiencing Anti Social or would like advice and assistance, please contact your Neighbourhood Champion. For more details on what is acceptable, please refer to your Tenancy Agreement.

Within this section, you can find information on:

Domestic Violence and Hate Crime
Noisy Neighbours
How do I stop myself becoming a nuisance neighbour?
Out of hours service for Anti Social Behaviour
Other types of Anti Social Behaviour such as drugs and graffiti, harrassment and abuse and fly tipping.

And there more where that came from.Juts shows how many are really suffering,

Nuisance Neighbours and Anti Social Behaviour

What's it all about?

Anti-Social Behaviour can be anything from low level persistent nuisance to serious violence and other criminal behaviour. It includes all behaviour which impacts negatively on people's quality of life in and around their community.

As a tenant, you are responsible for the behaviour of all visitors and other members of the household. Anti-Social Behaviour can be caused by a noisy party, groups of people shouting or graffiti. Even pets and animals can cause a nuisance by continually barking or running around into neighbour's gardens.

If you are experiencing Anti Social or would like advice and assistance, please contact your Neighbourhood Champion. For more details on what is acceptable, please refer to your Tenancy Agreement.

Within this section, you can find information on:

Domestic Violence and Hate Crime
Noisy Neighbours
How do I stop myself becoming a nuisance neighbour?
Out of hours service for Anti Social Behaviour
Other types of Anti Social Behaviour such as drugs and graffiti, harrassment and abuse and fly tipping.

And there more where that came from.Juts shows how many are really suffering,

I note this is rather an old posting. However, perhaps someone will look at it.
Matthew Ridgeway's website is closed as far as I know.
For a comprehensive analysis of the entire dog problem go to It is based in the United States but most of it is relevant to everywhere.
The Pet industry wants more and more dogs in society - bigger profits. They are aided and abetted by all Councils and the Police.
Irresponsible owners of barking dogs are almost always belligerant sociopaths, They get entertainment and pleasure from stressing out their innocent victims, and they don't care a fig for their dogs. They are seldom called to accout, even for attacking dogs.
"Speaking to the dog owner" no matter how politely is fraught with danger. Mediation is ridiculous and goes nowhere. Here you have a perpetrator illegally bullying a victim. The Court system is expensive and judges/magistrates almost always favour the belligerent, lying dog owner. Dog welfare groups are only interested in empire building and never get to the crux of the matter.
Switzerland now has in its law a 10-week mandatory management course for potential dog owners, which they must pay for and then pass a test. The U.K. Government (DEFRA)was thinking of introducing "competence testing" for dog owners last year. I don't know if it was introduced.
This is the way to go - proper screening of potential dog (pet) owners.
Signed: Audrey

Gee, this is an old posting. And thanks for the history lesson, but I really don't care about it. What I care about is civility in our communities. Yeah, since this post, I was forced out of my home at great expence. Thanks to uncaring animal owners. I wonder though, now much barking is needed before the dog owner attends to their dogs barking?

In my new home, I still am surrounded by dogs. Two to my right, three at the back and a couple across the road. They do bark - OCCASIONALY! But I can not understand the level of barking I was forced to endure from ONE DOG in my olg neighbourhood! It took over two years to have this sorted, as well ad neing accused of a criminal activity maliciously by the dogs owner! We had about a years peace until new neighbours moved in at another home and hammered us with loud bird noises. That was it for us, we moved.

No, many dog owners are irresponsible, even in my new neighbourhood, but how come I can live in this neighbourhood in peace and not the last? Clearly because some bullying animal owner that breaks the law gets favoritism from the very authority that is supposed to control the noise issues.

This is the true issue. So if a dog is barking out of control, Animal control is supposed to be there to educate the owner, and ultimately have the noise stopped.

I never quip at trivial things, like I daid, dogs bark around my home now. But ifd it is intolerable, it must stoip!