West Lothian residents who are impacted by noise caused by continual barking of a neighbour's dog(s), either inside or outside their homes, have the right to take action in an attempt to resolve the problem.
Please remember that semi-detached houses, terraced properties and flats are seldom designed to be totally sound proof. You may from time to time be able to hear your neighbour's dog(s) barking.
It is normal and natural for dogs to bark and you cannot expect any neighbour's dog to be silent. However, if the noise is so loud, frequent and prolonged as to interfere with your normal activities as an occupier, it is reasonable to expect the dog owner to take steps to address the barking problem.
How can I resolve the issue myself?
We always suggest that you raise the problem with your neighbour in normal conversation. Explain how the barking affects you and ask your neighbour if he/she would attempt to tackle the problem. Often dog owners will not realise that their dog is causing a disturbance. This way, it can be brought to their attention and addressed informally, without the dog owner feeling they have been complained about to the authorities.
What if I am unable to speak to the dog owner?
We recognise that this is not always possible, because it may be difficult to approach the dog owner directly. We recommend that you put your concerns down in writing to your neighbour in polite terms, again pointing out that the barking is causing annoyance and requesting that he/she takes action to solve the problem.
How much time should I give the dog owner to resolve the issue before taking it further?
You should allow adequate time for your neighbour to consider your request and take appropriate action. You should allow at least 2 weeks before starting to see an improvement. Copies of correspondence should be kept for future reference.
Reporting to Environmental Health
If the dog's owner is unable to resolve the problem and you wish to contact us for help, you will be asked for the following information:
- Your name and address and contact number or email address. (Your details will not be given to the person complained about initially without your permission). Although we will record the concern, we will not deal with concerns where you don't give your name and address.
- The address where noise is coming from. (Names and contact phone numbers are very helpful to us if they are available).We cannot deal with complaints where only the block of houses/flats are known. We require the full address of where the noise is coming from. You should be absolutely sure you are providing the correct information.
Where a complaint is made to the Environmental Health Department regarding dogs excessively barking, advice is given about taking your own action and making an application to the Court. We will also contact the dog owner to advise them a concern has been raised and direct them to some advice on controlling dog barking. However, we will take no further action as there are options for concerned individuals to take their own legal action.
Dog barking diary
It might be helpful to keep a diary of barking incidents if you are considering taking your own legal action.
Private Legal Action - Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982
If there is no improvement following contacts with the dog owner then it is helpful to be aware of the legal action that private individuals can pursue.
An individual, but not a local authority, can consider taking formal action under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. The relevant section of the Act is Civic Government (Scotland) Act Section 49 of which Subsections (2) and (3) state:-
2. A District Court may, if satisfied that any creature kept in the vicinity of any place where a person resides is giving that person, while in that place, reasonable cause for annoyance, make an Order requiring that person keeping the creature to take, within such period as may be specified in the Order, such steps (short of destruction of the creature) to prevent the continuance of the annoyance as may be so specified.
3. An Application to a District Court for an order under subsection (2) above may be made by any person.
You must appear in Court on that day with any witness you may have. It will be up to you to convince the Court that what you say is true. Alternatively, you may employ the services of a solicitor to undertake this on your behalf. For more information of if you wish to proceed you should contact the JP Court at the address below. There may be a fee associated with making these applications.
Livingston Justice of the Peace Court
Sheriff Court House
The Civic Centre
Howden South Road
Livingston EH54 6FF
Tel: 01506 402400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
It is also possible to take private action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. See Statutory Nuisance law for more information.