Nuisance Noise and Barking Complaints
Noise from a neighboring animal can be frustrating and disruptive to your quality of life and enjoyment of your property. If animal noise from domestic pets is disturbing the peace in a neighborhood, the animal owner may be in violation of the City’s public nuisance ordinance. Elk Grove Municipal Code 8.01.020 defines a public nuisance as any animal which
"Disrupts the peace by continuously and incessantly barking, howling, crying, yelping, baying or making any other noise at any time during the day or night to the disturbance of any other person. ‘Continuous and incessant’ is defined as frequent barking, howling, crying, yelping, baying, or any other noise of ten (10) minutes or more duration within a thirty (30) minute period; provided, that at the time of the complaint no person or persons were trespassing or threatening to trespass upon the private property of the owner or the animal was not being teased or provoked in any manner.”
Talk to Your Neighbor
When seeking to resolve a noise complaint, cordially speaking with your neighbor can be the best place to start. Often times, dog owners are not home when the barking occurs and may be unaware of the issue. Keep in mind that resolving these noise complaints, or re-training a pet can take time, so practice patience and give your neighbor a reasonable time to improve the situation.
If approaching your neighbor to resolve the noise is not effective, or is not an option for you, please see the information below on our process for reporting nuisance noise complaints.
To Report a Nuisance Noise or Barking Problem
You may submit a nuisance noise or barking complaint through the SeeClickFix app or submit an online complaint. This must include the address of the problem animal(s) and your contact information. Upon receipt of this complaint, Animal Services will mail a letter to the animal owner notifying them of a complaint, providing tips and resources on how to resolve the barking and giving them seven (7) days to abate the nuisance.
If a minimum of 7 days has passed since the first complaint, and the nuisance noise persists, you may file a Declaration and Petition of Abatement. This will begin a more formal investigation into a potential violation and you will be required to collect evidence in the form of Bark Logs for a period of 10 days. Second complaints received more than 60 days from the first complaint will follow the process of a first complaint.
Printable versions of these forms are also available, or you may call 916-687-3042 and request copies be mailed to you.
- You will be asked to recruit a second neighbor to also fill out a Declaration and Petition of Abatement and a Bark Log for 10 days.
- If, due to special circumstance, the nuisance noise only impacts you and no other neighbors, you may request a waiver to the second neighbor requirement. Animal Services will review your request and either grant or deny the exception.
- Bark logs from both parties must be completed and submitted to Animal Services within 30 days or the case will be closed.
Upon receipt of the completed declarations and Bark Logs, your case will be assigned to an Animal Services Officer for investigation. The officer will review all bark logs independently to assess whether a violation has occurred. Accuracy of times the noise is heard are important. Please note, logs indicating vague or extensive time frames, such as “7/15/21 6am – 10pm “Barked all day” will not be accepted.
If the bark logs indicate a violation, the officers will assess from the bark logs the best time to investigate the nuisance noise in person; this time is based off the times noted in the logs when it appears the noise is happening most routinely. Please be aware that officers investigate nuisance noise complaints only during scheduled shifts and as calls for service allow, which means the investigation can take several weeks to complete. At the end of the investigation, if the officer hears a violation, they will issue the animal owner a citation; if no violation is found, the case will be closed.
If the bark logs indicate that the nuisance is occurring outside of scheduled shift hours, but a violation is evident in the bark logs, an Animal Service Officer can issue the owner a citation on your behalf. This means you cannot remain anonymous. You must be willing to testify to the nuisance noise heard should the citation be appealed. If you wish to remain anonymous under these circumstances, the officer will close the case and direct you to other civil remedies you may pursue.
Tips for dog owners to stop nuisance barking
There are many reasons a dog may bark excessively, which may include:
- Boredom/ attention seeking/ frustration
- Territorial barking
- Barking at wildlife in the yard (squirrels, birds, etc)
- Separation anxiety or fear
It is important to try to understand the reason your pet may be barking in order to determine the best approach to take in reducing or eliminating the excessive barking.
Help Curb Excessive Barking
Barking is a perfectly normal and a natural canine behavior. Animals communicate vocally; dogs communicate by barking, just like birds communicate by singing. Barking is not abnormal, but excessive barking or barking at inappropriate times certainly is an annoying problem. Often times, dogs that are socially isolated or confined for long periods of time, use barking as a form of occupational therapy to pass the time. A dog left alone all day is given the opportunity to bark, as a hobby, because no one is there to control it. In no time at all, barking becomes an enjoyable habit. Once they start barking, they tend to continue to make noise, probably out of the sheer joy of being able to do something.
The first step is to realize dogs bark because they are lonely, bored, frustrated, or frightened. These are all things that you can help alleviate for your dog. A well exercised and happy dog will sleep the day away while you are not home. Other ways help reduce your dog’s desire to bark, is to play with your dog, develop a relationship. One way to do this is by getting on the floor and having fun with your pet. Dogs are social creatures; they need friends and companionship. Dogs that romp around and play will sleep happily while recovering from the good, hard play session. Dogs need to bark. Barking is a normal, natural, necessary canine behavior. However, your goal should be to get it under control.
Many people get so irritated with the constant barking that their own frustration level rises. While this is understandable, you can’t expect your dog to follow you. Animals simply don’t follow anxious, angry, or frustrated leaders.
Reward Appropriate Behavior
To help control your dogs barking, reward your dog when your dog is having a quiet moment on its own initiative, or whether it was instructed to "be quiet." Many owners are eager to reprimand the dog for barking, but few remember to praise it when it is quiet. Too many owners fall into the trap of forcefully commanding the dog to be quiet, but then forget to reward or ignore their dog when it obeys. In fact, many owners restrict their feedback to severely reprimanding the dog if it barks again. With this approach, training becomes an unpleasant series of punishments, and all the dog learns is not to bark when the owner is around, i.e., the owner creates an owner-absent problem. Also, if the dog is barking because it wants attention, even the negative attention of being scolded is a reward from the dog's point of view. As a rule of thumb: for each reprimand for barking, there should be at least ten times the amount of praised toward the dog for being quiet.
Just as a dog can learn the meaning of the word "sit" and obey on command, so it can learn the meaning of the word "quiet" and obey on command. Each time the dog barks, after two or three woofs, it should first be praised for sounding the alarm and then softly requested to be quiet. After requesting the dog to be quiet, you must devote your full attention to the dog. If the dog remains quiet, it should be continuously praised, but if it barks again, it should be immediately and effectively reprimanded. As training proceeds, the required period of silence is progressively increased.
When teaching the dog to "sit-stay," you can't expect it to remain in a "stay" for 20 minutes right from the start. You begin by teaching it to stay for just a few seconds, and gradually build up the time period. It's exactly the same for the "quiet" command. Your initial goals must be realistic. At first, "quiet" means silence for only 3 to 5 seconds. Gradually and progressively increase it to 10, 20, 30 seconds and so on.
The training sequence is as follows: After three barks, say "good dog" and then quietly request the dog to "be quiet." If the dog stops barking, it should be praised immediately and continuously, with an extra special reward if it remains quiet for a full three seconds. One way to help the dog stay quiet is to keep talking to it quietly. You may softly count the three seconds out loud, interspersing a "good dog" between each count.
The great secret of this method is that once you have requested the dog to be quiet, you must devote absolute attention to the dog for the specified length of time; Wait until your dog gives you complete and total submission before you go back to what you were doing. Timing is of the essence. The effectiveness of the reprimand lies in it being delivered within one half second following the first disobedient bark. Similarly, the effectiveness of the praise will be increased if it comes the moment the dog stops barking.