How Long Can A Dog Bark Legally In Australia's States & Territories
Do you have a neighbour's dog that is causing a raucous? Or maybe you’re the owner of a dog that is getting noise complaints?
It’s time you knew what the law really says about dogs barking.
How long can a dog bark legally in Australia? That’s the question I’ll try to answer today.
We’ll discuss how excessive barking is defined in Australia, what the laws are, state by state, and how to gently stop your dog from disturbing the neighbourhood.
Ready to learn about barking laws? Let’s dive in!
What Is Excessive Barking in Australia?
Let’s start with definitions! We all know that dogs are going to bark no matter what. That’s what dogs do. But there is a point at which barking disrupts the peace of those around you.
In theory, excessive barking can be any measure of barking that upsets your neighbours. Unfortunately, that can be unrealistically little for some neighbours who are just not dog people.
So it’s good to know what the actual law says about barking and whether the neighbours have a right to complain about your dog.
What is the law on dog barking in Australia?
Excessive barking comes under noise restriction laws but annoyingly has a broad legal definition.
On a country level, the most common law on dog barking comes from The Dog Act of 1976.
“[A dog is creating a nuisance if] it creates a noise, by barking or otherwise, which persistently occurs or continues to a degree or extent not normally habitual in dogs and has a disturbing effect on the state of reasonable physical, mental, or social well-being of a person”. (1)
Let’s break that down.
“It creates a noise, by barking or otherwise…”
So this legislation applies to other dog noises like yelping, scratching, howling, etc.
“...which persistently occurs or continues to a degree or extent not normally habitual in dogs…”
The amount of noise has to be outside the realms of “normal” dog behaviour. So if your neighbour complains because your dog barks twice a day, they have no legs to stand on. Your dog is within their communication rights.
“...and has a disturbing effect on the state of reasonable physical, mental, or social well-being of a person.”
This is arguably the most crucial part. If your dog is a wild yappy mess but your neighbour quite enjoys their talkative nature, you have nothing to worry about. It’s only when a person is mentally, physically, or socially impacted by your pup’s noise that it becomes a legal offence.
But I’m sure you’ve noticed something missing. The length of time that is considered “normal” for dogs to bark.
It’s a tricky subject but let’s take a look at what the states say.
How Long Can A Dog Bark Legally In Australia By State
I won’t lie to you. There are no country-wide or state-wide laws on how long a dog can legally bark in Australia.
The state councils vary widely when it comes to dog barking laws. Most are painfully vague, not putting any firm parameters on what nuisance barking is.
And can you blame them? It’s pretty tricky to quantify what “normal” barking is. In some cases, even the councils within states disagree.
Though I’ve done the research and gathered as much information as I can, it’s vital you check with your local council for the latest information.
Most council authorities will review your situation on a case-by-case basis.
Barking dog laws NSW
There is no state-wide law that mentions how long a dog can bark in New South Wales.
The NSW Companion Animals Act 1988 states that a dog is eligible for a nuisance order if it:
“makes a noise, by barking or otherwise, that persistently occurs or continues to such a degree or extent that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in any other premises” - NSW Companion Animals Act 1988 (2)
Barking dog laws QLD
There is no state-wide law that specifies how long a dog can legally bark in Queensland. However, some local councils have by-minute parameters.
Logan City Council states that excessive barking is barking that lasts:
“for 6 minutes in an hour between 7.00am and 10.00pm on any day, or for 3 minutes in half an hour between 10.00pm and 7.00am on any day, or if an authorised person reasonably considers that the duration, time and intensity of the barking is excessive.” (3)
Barking dog laws VIC
No state laws specify how long a dog can legally bark in Victoria.
However, the Environment Protection Authority Victoria states that it is illegal to make unreasonable levels of noise between the following times:
“Monday to Friday before 7 am and after 8 pm. Weekends and public holidays before 9 am and after 8 pm.” (4)
Barking dog laws WA
There is no state-wide law that dictates how long a dog can legally bark in Western Australia. However, if we look at the local council legislation, there are more defined parameters.
The City of Cockburn council defines nuisance barking as:
“Barking more than six minutes in an hour between 6am and 10pm on any day. Barking more than three minutes in any 30-minute period between 10pm and 6am on any day. Barking more than 240 times between 6am and 10pm, and more than 32 barks between 10pm and 6am on any day.” (5)
Barking dog laws SA
There is no state-wide rule for how long a dog can bark in Southern Australia. However, local city council laws can give us a clue as to how they measure excessive barking.
Campbelltown City Council states that excessive barking is:
“240 barks per day between the hours of 7.00am and 9.00pm,
or 35 barks per night between the hours of 9.00pm and 7.00am,
or regularly exceeds 30 barks per hour during the day
or 4 barks per hour during the night." - Campbelltown City Council (6)
Barking dog laws ACT
There are no state-wide laws that say how long a dog can legally bark in Australian Capital Territory.
However, nuisance caused by excessive noise is legislated under the Domestic Animals Act 2000:
Barking dog laws NT
There is no state-wide rule for how long a dog can bark in Northern Territory. It’s best to check your local council to see if they have any guidelines.
Darwin City Council states that nuisance barking is:
Barking dog laws TAS
There is no specific state-wide law on how long a dog can legally bark in Tasmania.
The Dog Control Act 2000 states:
“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.”- Dog Control Act 2000 (9)
How Can You Report A Dog For Nuisance Barking?
Though each council may have a slightly different process, most will suggest the following procedure:
Speak to the dog owner
To start the process, the dog owner must be aware that the neighbour has an issue. Most councils won’t investigate if this first conversation hasn’t happened.
Why? Well, most neighbours resolve their issues just by communicating with each other.
Next, most councils will point you towards a government mediation service like the Communities Justice Centre in NSW (don’t worry – there are equivalent services across the country). These meditation services will come in to ease communication between the dog owner and neighbour to reach an amicable solution. If things aren’t improving, the neighbour has a right to escalate to a full noise complaint.
Contact the local council
The neighbour can contact the local council for a written statement. Some councils will require a barking diary to prove that the barking is outside of normal dog behaviour.
If the case is legitimate, a council officer will visit the dog owner’s home and issue a warning. They may inspect the space to ensure no dog abuse is happening.
The dog owner can appeal a proposed nuisance order within 7 days of the warning.
Nuisance orders and fines
Most councils will start with a nuisance order. If the dog owner breaks the terms of the nuisance order, they could be fined. The fines vary from $200-$2000+ depending on the council. Repeat offenders will get higher fines.
What Are The Consequences Of Breaking Dog Barking Laws In Australia?
The most common consequence for flouting a nuisance order is a fine. First offence fines are generally between $200-$500. But the maximum penalty can be as high as $60,000 depending on the council.
How Do You Stop Excessive Barking? 7 Quick Tips
So, your neighbours are complaining about your chatty dog. Or maybe you’ve received a nuisance order. What can you do to stop your dog from excessively barking?
Here are 7 quick tips:
Keep your dog entertained
Boredom is the most common reason dogs bark for no reason. If you keep your dog well-exercised and entertained at home, this should reduce their mad barking habit.
Need ideas for how you can your dog mentally stimulated? Check out this video:
Try anti-bark collars
Anti-bark collars are collars specifically designed to deter your dog from nuisance barking. Some are super sophisticated with barking sensors and several types of deterrents.
Related: The Best Dog Barking Collars Australia.
The most common deterrents are citronella sprays, vibration, and high-pitched sound.
Want to know more? Check out our review article all about the best anti-bark collars in Australia.
Don’t bark back (yelling or scolding)
It’s tempting to yell at your dog when they start a barking frenzy. But often, your cries will have the opposite effect. Your dog will think you’re joining in the merry chorus and bark even more!
That’s not to say you should never correct your dog for barking excessively. It’s just that raising your voice is often not the answer.
Teach your dog to be quiet on command
This one takes patience but it is possible. You can train your dog to recognise a word as a trigger to stay quiet. Many use the word “quiet” or “enough” as the training word.
If you say the word repeatedly while your dog is barking and reward them when they stop, you reinforce the link between the word and the action.
Again, this one takes time to develop but could save your (and your neighbour’s) sanity.
Redirect their behaviour
Redirection is always one of the best gentle dog training techniques. Distraction is so effective. The key is to redirect your dog’s energy before a trigger can get hold of them.
So let’s say your dog barks incessantly at the postie and then can’t seem to stop. If your postie arrives at roughly the same time every day, engage your dog in a dog puzzle or interactive treat dispenser before they come. Your dog will (hopefully) be well and truly distracted and not even notice the postie arrive.
Treats and games are the best for this. Chew toys also work if your pup is an avid chewer. But I find more interactive exciting games like snuffle mats and squeaky toys are more effective at stealing a dog’s attention.
Remove barking triggers
Often the most effective salve against nuisance barking is to go straight to the source. What is your dog barking at? Are they barking at passers-by in front of the house? If so, try obstructing their view. Is there a specific sound or item that triggers your dog, like the vacuum cleaner? Maybe that’s a good time for your partner to take the dog for a walk so they don’t get distressed.
Of course, you can’t course-correct every trigger. But if you can remove the source of the barking, you’ll find that your pup’s nattering is much more manageable in future.
Call in the professionals
An expert dog behaviourist or trainer can be a lifesaver when it comes to nuisance barking. They can help you determine why your dog is barking. They can also teach you effective, modern, gentle dog training techniques to encourage your dog to behave!
Curious about why your dog may be barking? In this video, I explain it all:
Final Thoughts: Nuisance Barking Can Get You Into Trouble In Australia!
So how long can a dog bark legally in Australia? It depends on your local council and the council officer’s best judgement. Some local councils have explicit guidelines on what nuisance barking is but many don’t. Each dog nuisance complaint is dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
That said, if you suspect your dog is going over the top, and your neighbours are disturbed, use gentle training techniques to keep your dog calmer and quieter at home.
First, have you spoken to your neighbour? Speaking to them about the issue is the first port of call. Often dog owners are open to hearing your feedback and will do their best to solve the issue. If the problem persists, contact your local council with a written diary of how often the neighbour’s dog is barking. If the council thinks you have a case, they will send a council officer to investigate the problem.
The jury’s out as to whether dogs tire of barking. Many experts say that they don’t, but others disagree. My take is that dogs do get tired of barking for long periods. It can be an effort to bark consistently and some dogs even lose their voices from barking so much. (10)
- “Dog Act 1976”. State of Western Australia. Retrieved April 26, 2023. https://www.legislation.wa.gov.au/legislation/former/swans.nsf/(DownloadFiles)/Dog+Act+1976.pdf/$file/Dog+Act+1976.pdf
- “Companion Animals Act 1988 No 87”. State of New South Wales. Retrieved April 26, 2023. https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1998-087
- “Barking dogs”. Logan City Council. Retrieved April 26, 2023. https://www.logan.qld.gov.au/pets-and-animals/barking-dogs
- “Residential noise and the law”. Environment Protection Authority Victoria. Retrieved April 26, 2023. https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/environmental-information/noise/residential-noise/residential-noise-law#prohibited-times-for-noise
- “Barking Dogs”. City of Cockburn Council. Retrieved April 26, 2023. https://www.cockburn.wa.gov.au/Health-Safety-and-Rangers/Dogs-and-Cats/Barking-Dogs
- “Barking dogs”. Campbelltown City Council. Retrieved April 26, 2023. https://www.campbelltown.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0027/236961/Barking-Dog-Information-Pack.pdf
- “Animal Nuisance”. ACT Government Services. Retrieved April 26, 2023. https://www.cityservices.act.gov.au/pets-and-wildlife/domestic-animals/animal-nuisance
- “Nuisance Barking”. Darwin City Council. Retrieved April 26, 2023. https://www.darwin.nt.gov.au/live/pets-wildlife/dog-cat-management/nuisance-barking
- “Dog Control Act 2000”. State of Tasmania. Retrieved April 26, 2023. https://www.legislation.tas.gov.au/view/whole/html/inforce/current/act-2000-102
- Kaufmann, A. August 6, 2022. “Do dogs get tired of barking? What dog breeds bark the most? Your pup’s behavior explained”. USA Today. Retrieved April 26, 2023. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/2022/08/06/do-dogs-get-tired-of-barking-explained/10228254002/