It is perfectly normal and reasonable for animals to make noise from time to time, just as children make noise when they play outside. In Brisbane, animal noise such as a barking dog, a squawking parrot or the trilling call of a guinea-hen is considered a nuisance when it unreasonably disrupts or inhibits activities at adjoining premises or nearby residential land.
Under Council’s Animals Local Law 2017 (the local law), a person must not keep an animal if it causes a noise nuisance. In determining whether a nuisance has occurred, an authorised person can consider a number of factors. These include:
- whether complaints have been received from multiple persons, occupying separate dwellings in the same or adjoining streets as the noise
- the frequency and intensity of the noise
- the time and duration of the noise, specifically
- where the noise is made for more than a total of six minutes in any hour from 7am to 10pm on any day
- where the noise is made for more than a total of three minutes in a 30-minute period at any time after 10pm and before 7am on any day.
Complaint process and response timeframe
The complaint investigation process for animal noise nuisance can, in many instances, be lengthy as Council works directly with the animal keeper and complainant to find a practical, long term solution.
If the matter is reported to Council:
- in the first instance, the complainant will be encouraged to try to resolve the matter amicably with their neighbour by handling the animal noise complaint
- if the noise continues, the complainant may report the matter to Council
- Council writes (via mail or email) to both parties about the issue and provides relevant fact sheets and supporting information to assist in resolving the matter
- both parties are encouraged to talk to their neighbours to discuss the problem and seek a possible solution
- if the animal keeper takes no action to resolve the problem within 14 days of reporting the matter to Council, the complainant may complete an animal noise diary and return it to Council should they wish for a further investigation to be conducted
- If an animal noise diary is received, Council will investigate the complaint.
People are sometimes unaware their animals activities are causing a nuisance. Brisbane City Council encourages all residents to talk to their neighbours about nuisance problems before making a complaint to Council.
If a dog or any other pet is causing a noise nuisance to you, Council recommends that you approach the pet's owner as soon as the problem arises and try to seek a practical long-term solution to amicably resolve the matter. The owner may not realise the noise is an issue because the:
- animal may only create the noise when the owner is away
- owner may not hear their pet make the noise from areas inside the house
- owner may be a very sound sleeper and not be woken up when their pet creates the noise.
To assist neighbours with resolving animal noise issues without Council intervention, we have developed the:
- Animal Noise Fact Sheet (Word - 145kb) - this fact sheet provides information for the animal keeper and for neighbours on why the animal may be creating the noise and some recommendations on how to reduce the animal noise
- Animal Noise in the Neighbourhood letter (Word - 244kb) - this letter template is designed for neighbours to use if they would like to communicate to the animal's keeper about the problem.
If the owner of the animal agrees to do something about the animal noise, wait a few weeks to see if they have been successful in their efforts. Your support and ongoing feedback about the animal's behaviour can assist the owner with resolving the problem.
If the animal continues to make noise after you have discussed the noise nuisance with the animal keeper and they have had at least 28 days to resolve the problem, you can report the issue to Council by phone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 07 3403 8888 or write to Council online.
Please note: Where the exact address of the animal noise is unknown, Council is unable to accept the complaint. For example, in high rise apartment buildings, you are encouraged to contact the body corporate to resolve the complaint.
Council will send (via mail or email) a letter, fact sheet and an animal noise diary.
At the same time, Council sends a letter and information pack to the complainant, Council will also promptly provide information to the animal keeper (via mail) and provide some potential solutions. The animal keeper will be asked to take action to eliminate the problem. Council and the neighbourhood must allow a reasonable timeframe, usually 28 days, for the owner to take action to address the animal noise.
If a completed animal noise diary is received, a Council officer will review the diary to assist further investigation.
The returned animal noise diary is a key piece of information that assists Council understand the nature of the situation.
Complainants are requested to complete all fields in the animal noise diary for a minimum period of 7 consecutive days and return it to Council. The animal noise diary helps Council establish patterns of when the animal is creating the noise nuisance and provides information on possible triggers for the noise.
Once Council has provided you with a complaint reference number, you can start completing the diary either via:
- the electronic animal noise diary; or
- the hard copy animal noise diary for neighbours (Word - 160kb).
After a completed animal noise diary has been returned to Council, the complaint will be profiled for response by a Council officer.
Council will take necessary actions to ensure the complainants identity will remain anonymous. However, as enforcement action may be reliant, in part or whole, on the evidence put forward by the complainant, and if the matter progresses to Court, the identity of the complainant may become known. A person making a complaint and supplying evidence should be aware of this fact.
There may be circumstances where a Council officer will need to attend the complainant’s premises throughout the investigation. Part of the investigation may require a Council officer to share the contents of the noise diary with the animal keeper which during this process the identity of the complainant may become apparent.
If the officer determines the animal is causing an ongoing noise nuisance, Council may issue a notice to remedy. If the animal keeper still takes no action, an infringement notice may be issued. Alternatively, Council may determine that education is the most appropriate response.
Handy hints for owners of barking dogs
Barking dogs are the most common animal noise complaint Council receives. Council’s My dog is barking, what should I do? page provides handy hints and tips for dog owners to help resolve a barking issue.
If you think an animal is making noise because it is being mistreated or has no food, shade or water, please contact the RSPCA Queensland on 3426 9999 or online immediately.
Council is not authorised to act on animal welfare matters.