MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire residents are being driven barking mad because of noisy dogs.
The shire, home to around 30,000 registered dogs, has received 325 complaints about barking dogs in the past nine months, an average 36 a month.
One Somerville resident says barking dogs are destroying his peace and affecting his health but that the council is not acting fast enough on noise complaints.
Harry Harris says he lives in a once-quiet suburban street that has become a battle ground for residents because of barking dogs.
Harris said two dogs in his street bark for hours every day, particularly early in the morning but also on and off during the day when they are often left home alone.
“These are working dogs stuck in the backyard, it’s an intolerable level of barking, every day,” he said.
“It’s really frustrating and it’s driving me and other neighbours insane.”
Harris said despite his attempts to speak to the dog owner, and then complain to the council, little had changed in more than 12 months.
“It’s not just me, I’ve spoken to many of my neighbours and they are also frustrated by the barking, but the council doesn’t seem to do anything,” he said.
Harris, who mainly works from home, said he was told to fill out a diary that the council would provide.
“But they took ages to send it to me. When I finally got one and filled it in they did nothing about it.”
Harris said he feels like he is playing “dodgems” with council staff.
“They are just stonewalling me, I’m getting no response.”
Council’s community safety and compliance manager Dale Gilliatte said rangers investigated all complaints about dog barking and made efforts to speak to both the complainant and the owner of the dog in order to find a resolution.
Gilliatte said dog ownership was rising since a drop during 2020 and 2021, and suggested the large number of barking complaints was partly due to more people working from home.
He said all complaints made to the council were followed through until “resolved”, however, he conceded that “this may not always be to the satisfaction of the person making the complaint” due to a lack of evidence or other factors.
Councils have the power to issue dog owners with a warning, or a formal notice to comply to stop the barking. If it is not complied with, councils can issue an infringement notice. If the problem persists, council may proceed with legal action and seek a court order, however Gilliatte said this option was extremely rare.
Bark Busters animal trainer Paul Labrum said it was possible to teach a dog not to bark excessively, using training methods that focussed on reducing anxiety and re-establishing the owner as the “head of the pack”.
“It should never be about pain or fear, just leadership,” he said.
He said excessive barking was usually part of a raft of behavioural issues affecting animals that did not have effective leadership.
“I’ll often hear owners who bring their dogs for dog training say, ‘my dog won’t come back to me on command’, and then as an offside they say ‘and he barks a lot’. It’s usually all part of the same problem.”
Victoria’s Dispute Settlement Centre also provides free advice to help neighbours sort out the problem of barking dogs.
The council has an information sheet on barking dogs.