How Long Can a Dog Bark Legally (UK & United States)?

How long can a dog bark legally

Has it ever crossed your mind that your first serious encounter with the authorities could be courtesy of your noisy dog? As a dog owner, letting your dog bark for as long as they like isn’t an option and could end you up in legal trouble.

But just how long can a dog bark legally in the UK or US? Here’s how it breaks down, depending on where you live.

How long can a dog bark legally? In the US, how long can bark legally depends on state or local laws where you live. Some states consider barking for 10 minutes straight, while others find barking that prolongs for 15 minutes illegal. In the UK, there isn’t a specific length of disturbance. But excessive barking is an offense with tough penalties.

Below I’ve summarized as much as possible on the legalities of dog’s barking in the UK and United States, sometimes state by state including California, Texas, and Washington State.

By the end of this piece, you’ll have practical tips on resolving your dog’s unpleasant barking behavior to avoid encounters with the authorities.

Nuisance Barking: When a dog’s barking becomes lawfully unacceptable

Out of all the many offenses that can land you in legal problems, you’d never want to imagine that your dog’s barking could be one of them.

But that’s the reality of the noise-sensitive world we live in today.

Dogs bark. And the truth is, they will often not tire of barking either. That perfectly it’s normal since it’s their way of expressing their needs.

But it can be quite frustrating dealing with an ever-noisy canine housemate. One whose barking habit drives you and your neighbors nuts!

And guess who else can’t stand nuisance barking? The law. Only that it’s you who’ll pay the price — not your dog.

How long can a dog bark legally UK
It takes a lot of to stop them barking… (

There’s a legal limit to how long your dog can bark. Prolonged, repetitive barking is what the law terms “illegal barking”. The type of barking that interferes with the neighbors’ peace of mind and comfort or affects their health in any way.

If this is what your dog puts your neighbors through regularly (yet they aren’t raising an “intruder alert” alarm), it might only be a matter of time before you receive a noise nuisance complaint.

Dogs with a habit of barking uncontrollably do so because of the following reasons:

  • Hunger or thirst
  • Boredom
  • Loneliness
  • Separation anxiety
  • Underlying medical problem
  • Lack of behavior modification training

Whilst it might appear like they do, dogs rarely bark for no reason.

Laws on excessive barking in the US

In the US, state and local laws on prohibited barking vary. I’ll give a few examples.

  • How long can a dog bark legally in New York: for instance, has a noise code stipulating it’s illegal for a dog to bark non-stop (from 7 am to 10 pm) for over 10 minutes. And at night (10 pm to 7 am), any barking that extends for more than 5 minutes is prohibited.
  • How long can a dog bark legally in California: Under the ordinance amendment, a violation is defined as a dog barking continuously for 10 minutes or intermittently for 30 minutes in a three-hour period.
  • How long can a dog bark legally in Washington State: For example, a dog that barks for at least 10 minutes during any half hour period is in violation of Snohomish County Code 9.12. 060.
  • How long can a dog bark legally in Aurora City: The city recently put a new law limiting a dog’s barking to 15 minutes (from 7 am to 10 pm). So if your canine pal’s barking extends for more than 15 minutes, you’re in trouble. At night, though (from 10 pm to 7 am), the barking limit is 10 minutes.
  • How long can a dog bark legally in Contra Costa County: Their noisy animal ordinance is a bit lenient. It’s illegal for dogs to bark non-stop for 30 minutes or make on and off barking noises lasting 60 minutes.

As you can see, the laws on dog barking will depend on where you live. You can contact animal control services in your area to find out the dog barking laws in place.

And before you ask, yes, your neighbor has a right to report to the relevant authorities if they’ve had enough of your dog’s barking. The authorities will investigate and issue you a written warning.

The whole point of a warning letter is for you to find ways to end the excessive barking. The authorities can even help you brainstorm possible solutions.

But if the issue persists, you’ll face fines for committing a minor criminal offense. Again, the penalties will depend on the dog barking laws in your area.

What is the law on barking dogs in the UK?

In the UK, there isn’t an exact duration that defines nuisance barking. Every barking complaint is handled differently.

But as a general rule, complaints of excessive barking in the UK are treated as statutory nuisance, just like other loud noise complaints.

The relevant authorities will also first investigate the complaint and give you a written warning. They’ll take further action if you don’t fix the braking problem.

By further action, I mean serving you a Statutory Noise Abatement Notice as per the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990. If you don’t comply with this notice, you’ll have committed a criminal offense. So you’ll be charged in court.

Authorities in the UK often look at a few factors when deciding on the appropriate penalty for owners with noisy canine companions:

  • The frequency and volume of the dog’s bark.
  • Whether the barking occurs at unreasonable hours. For instance, late at night or early in the morning.
  • The number of people complaining about the barking.

You risk facing a hefty fine for failing to resolve your dog’s undesirable barking behavior. Before, the penalty was set at £ 5,000. But this was later revised to an unlimited amount.

In most cases, the fine is higher. A dog parent from Southam was slapped with a £9,304 fine for not dealing with her dog’s uncontrollable barking habit.

What to do if your neighbor’s dog has a barking problem

The first thing that might come to your mind is filing a noise complaint — but don’t take the legal route first.

Believe it or not, your neighbor may be completely unaware of how bothersome their dog’s barking is, even if their mutt does need to be treated for a sore throat! So before reporting the issue to the authorities, it’s advisable to first speak to your neighbor (respectfully).

Most owners take these concerns positively, and you can work together to find a lasting solution.

If you’re not comfortable having a one-on-one conversation with your neighbor, you can opt to leave them a friendly note at their door regarding the barking issue.

But if the prolonged barking habit continues, you can reach out to the animal control services in your area.

What you can do to stop your dog’s excessive barking

Part of your role as a responsible dog owner is ensuring your cherished canine family member doesn’t end up being a nuisance to the public.

There are a few things you can consider to avoid getting into legal trouble:

  • Make sure your furry friend is on a routine. That is, scheduled mealtime and a daily exercise routine. A well-fed and tired dog is less likely to bark non-stop.
  • Act as soon as you realize your dog’s barking behavior is starting to go south. Otherwise, your canine friend will become accustomed to barking uncontrollably. Rewarding them when they keep quiet can work magic.
  • Take them to the vet for a checkup so you’d know if there’s a medical issue triggering the barking problem. If they are healthy, it might be time to work with a behaviorist to tackle excessive barking.
  • Dogs desire full-time companionship. When you leave them without company during the day, they might bark out of anxiety. You can hire a trusted pet sitter to keep them company when you aren’t around.
  • Leaving the TV or radio on can make them feel that someone’s around. You should also ensure your dog has plenty of amusing toys to keep themselves occupied and resist the urge to bark non-stop.
  • As angry as you may be, don’t raise your voice at your canine friend if they. This will only prompt them to bark louder.

Related questions

How long can a dog bark non-stop legally?

This depends on the state or local laws in your area. In some places, the most a dog can bark is 10 minutes. Other areas tolerate up to 15 minutes of barking. You can reach out to the Animal control services in your area to know the barking laws in place.

What is classed unreasonable dog barking?

If your dog constantly barks for prolonged periods, affecting your neighbor’s peace of mind and comfort, that’s considered too much braking.

What is the law on barking dogs in the UK?

The UK classifies excessive barking as a statutory nuisance that can attract fines of over £,5000

How do I silence my neighbors’ dogs?

The best you can do is to first talk to your neighbor about the barking and how it affects you. If they don’t resolve the problem, you have a right to contact the relevant authorities.


There is no law that is the same everywhere. If you live in the United States, see what your state laws says about dogs barking legally. In the UK, it’s not the most obvious either.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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