This website is for use by legal professionals (lawyers and law practices) only. If the information is used incorrectly, you could risk losing money or your legal rights. If you are a member of the public looking for free advice about your legal problems please visit legalaid.vic.gov.au, or contact our Legal Help advice line on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. 

If you decide to use or rely on the information or make decisions based on the information in this website (which VLA does not recommend) VLA is not liable to you or any third party in any way for any loss, damage, costs or expenses you or they may suffer or incur as a result.

Noisy animals

Information about what can be done about barking dogs, crowing roosters or other animal noise.

Pet owners must not allow their pets to be a nuisance to others. Noisy animals are a common type of tension between neighbours. A person living in a place must not allow their animal to be a nuisance. A dog or cat court be regarded as a nuisance if the animal creates a noise and continuously or persistently disturbs a neighbour to the degree that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person.

Penalty

The maximum penalty is 1 penalty unit.

Note: If this offence is dealt with by issue of an infringement notice, the penalty is 0.5 penalty units.

See s. 32—Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic).

What to do about noise

Speak to the neighbour

It is best to speak directly to the neighbour and try to resolve the dispute.

The dispute settlement centre has some tips for neighbours to begin a conversation about noisy pets.

See 'Starting the conversation' in Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.

Mediation

If talking does not resolve the matter the Dispute Settlement Centre may provide a free mediation session to help the neighbours sort out their differences.

See Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.

Complain to local council

If the 2 parties are not able to reach an agreement, or if the noise does not stop, a person who is disturbed by unreasonable barking, crowing or caterwauling can complain to their local council. The disturbed person should spend some time gathering evidence about the times of day that they are disturbed and possibly sound recordings of the noise level before they do this.

A council officer will go and speak with the neighbour about the noise. If the council decides that the noise is a nuisance they can give a notice to the owner. This notice requires the owner to do something to make the noise stop, such as keeping the dog or cat locked inside.

If the noise continues, the council can also issue a fine to the owner.

Penalty

The maximum penalty is 1 penalty unit.

Note: If this offence is dealt with by issue of an infringement notice, the penalty is 0.5 penalty units.

See s. 32—Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic).

Council may take the owner to court

The council may also decide to take the noisy neighbour to court. The disturbed neighbour could be called in as a witness. The court may find the owner guilty of an offence and may order the person to take action to make the noise stop.

Penalty

The pet owner may be fined up to 3 penalty units if they fail to obey the court order.

If council won't take action

If council is unwilling to act the person can make a complaint to the Victorian Ombudsman.

See Victorian Ombudsman—Complaining to Ombudsman Victoria.

Noise as a private nuisance

There is also broad scope to complain about noise as a private nuisance. To succeed in an action in court the person will have to prove:

  • that the noisy animal causes a substantial and unreasonable interference with their use and enjoyment of the land
  • they have an interest in the land and a right to enjoyment of it
  • the animal's owner has control over the barking dog.

See Westlaw's Legal Practice Manual for details of pursuing the matter in court Dogs and other animals [4.6.801].

Domestic Animals Act 1994

  • s. 32—dogs or cats creating a nuisance
  • s. 85—power to serve infringment notice for some offences

See Domestic Animals Act 1994 (Vic).

Domestic Animals Regulations 2015 (Vic)

  • r. 50—amount of infringement penalty for offences listed under s. 85
  • Schedule 5—explains the penalties for offences that can be dealt with as infringment penalties

See Domestic Animals Regulations 2015 (Vic).

Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic)

  • Part 6—regulatory provisions administered by councils

See Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic).

Reference

Lawyers Practice Manual

Westlaw's Lawyers Practice Manual has information about dogs and noise.

See Dogs and other animals [4.6.801].

Environment Protection Authority

This state government authority is responsible for protection the environment. They set standards monitor and manage compliance of pollutants, including noise.

See Environment Protection Authority Victoria—Your environment noise.

Their site also has a publication to help residents to deal with neighbourhood noise including barking dogs.

See EPA—Annoyed by noise? A guide to dealing with residential noise.

Dispute Settlement Centre

This free service by Department of Justice and Regulation can assist neighbours to work out a solution if they have a dispute about noise.

See Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.

The Law Handbook

Fitzroy Legal Service’s Law Handbook has the following information about domestic animals.

See:

Victorian Ombudsman

The Ombudsman can look into it complaints made about a local council and decide whether it was reasonable or not. They can make recommendations to the council about its conduct.

See Victorian Ombudsman.

Updated