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Dog owners face unlimited fine for failing to stop their dog’s excessive barking

Dog owners who do not step in to stop their dog’s excessive barking could land themselves a fine under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 – but there’s some practices they can put in place to avoid paying out

Owners must step in to stop their dog’s excessive barking

Pet owners could land themselves an unlimited fine for not stepping in to stop their dog’s excessive barking.

Neighbors who have to endure a dog’s barking at all hours of the day can report their owner to the local authority, who have a duty to investigate any noise complaints in their area.

If their complaint is proven, they can take formal action to prosecute the owner for causing ‘injury to a person’s health’ or ‘interfering with their enjoyment of their property’.

As under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, owners who don’t stop their animal causing noise are ‘liable on summary conviction for a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale’, as well as ‘a further fine for each day on which the offense continues’.

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One owner was fined £9,304 for her dog’s excessive barking



While a level 5 offense on the standard scale was previously capped at a maximum of £5,000, it is now subject to an unlimited fine.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson said: “For crimes committed after March13, 2015, level 5 has been done away with and all criminal penalties expressed as being punishable on summary conviction by a maximum fine of £5,000 or more, or expressed as being a level 5 fine, are now punishable by a fine of any amount (ie unlimited).That’s as a result of section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.”

In 2020, a dog owner from Southam, in Warwickshire, was fined a total of £9,304 for her dog’s excessive barking.

Owners should not reward their dog’s barking


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However, there are some practices owners can put in place to help minimize excessive barking and avoid a costly fine:

Ensure you’re not rewarding the barking

Telling your dog they’re a ‘good dog’ and rewarding them with treats whilst this behavior is ongoing will encourage it more.

Instead, reward your dog when they are quiet.

If they bark at meal times, wait until the barking has subsided and then place their food down.

This way, they associate being quiet with a reward, and in time they will learn that continuously barking will not allow them to get what they want.

Don’t raise your voice at your dog

You may be inclined to go down the route of speaking in a louder tone out of sheer frustration or desperation, but your dog thinks you’re joining in with them and they will typically just get louder.

Identify what is causing the excessive barking and remove the stimulus that is causing it, therefore leading to a quieter, happier dog.

Make sure your dog has a routine

If your dog is bored and has no structure, they’re more likely to lean into destructive and less desirable behaviors.

Daily exercise, scheduled meal times and regular play can all contribute to a more relaxed dog, which will result in a greatly reduced amount of attention-seeking barking.

Train your dog to become desensitized to barking triggers

If you notice a pattern of triggers that cause your dog to bark, it’s important to train them to not react to them unnecessarily.

Some dogs are particularly reactive, so this is something to bear in mind when training your dog.

This is a process that should be done gradually and with patience. If you have any concerns in regards to training your dog, contact a professional dog obedience specialist or registered trainer who is able to advise further.

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