Barking dogs driving you mad?

The sensible thing to do is to chat to your neighbour, over a cup of tea, and explain that the dog is preventing your baby from sleeping (or whatever) and ask him or her to do the neighbourly thing. One solution (if the neighbour works all day and the dog is bored or afraid) is to fit a cold air spray bark collar. All vets sell these devices and they are not at all cruel. Perhaps the dog needs to see an animal behaviourist? He or she will see why the dog barks excessively (lack of exercise, lack of stimulation, separation anxiety, protecting territory, etc.) and recommend a solution.

If that does not help or if the neighbour is indifferent or defensive (and refuses to make the nuisance go away) you should report the matter to the authorities (the local authority and, perhaps the SPCA) and, that failing, contact your lawyer, who will have to send a threatening letter or even go to court for an interdict.

Disciplinary procedures vary from district to district. If you go the reporting or legal route, you will start a feud, so, wherever possible, try and settle matters amicably.

In Johannesburg, Section 5(a) of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality’s by-laws relating to dogs and cats (Prohibitions relating to the keeping of dogs) provides that no person may keep a dog which barks, whimpers or howls to such an extent that it, or has another habit which, causes a disturbance or nuisance to inhabitants of the neighbourhood.

Call 011 375 5911 and log a call of “disturbance of the peace”.  The authorities will satisfy themselves that the barking is indeed intolerable and issue a warning notice to the dog’s owner to cease and desist (requiring the discontinuance of such offence). Failure to comply could result in the dog being impounded.

The SA Noise Control Regulations provide that no person shall:

  • make, produce or cause a disturbing noise, or allow it to be made, produced or caused by any person, animal, machine, device or apparatus or any combination thereof;


  • operate or play, or allow to be operated or played, a radio, television set, drums, musical instrument, sound amplifier, loudspeaker system or similar device producing, reproducing or amplifying sound so as to cause a noise nuisance;


  • offer any article for sale by shouting, ringing a bell or making other sounds or by allowing shouting, the ringing of a bell or the making of other sounds in a manner which may cause a noise nuisance;


  • allow an animal owned or controlled by him or her to cause a noise nuisance.

If a noise emanating from a building, premises, etc., is a disturbing noise or noise nuisance, the authorities may instruct in writing the person causing such noise to discontinue or cause to be discontinued such noise within a period stipulated in the instruction. Failing response (in the case of e.g. power tools, musical instruments or animal) the instrument, equipment or animal can be confiscated, or impounded.

Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with a written notice shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding R20 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years, or to both such fine and such imprisonment. In the case of confiscated items, the court may declare any vehicle, power tool, musical instrument or equipment, or animal forfeit to the local authority.

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