‘Staggering’ increase in Gwynedd dog barking complaints as pandemic pets left at home
Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter
Gwynedd residents are increasingly being sent “barking mad” by the incessant noise of dogs – and the issue could have an impact on the region’s house sales.
According to recent data the yapping, whining and howling of our four-legged furry friends has seen the number of complaints to Gwynedd Council spiral.
There were 76 official complaints received by the local authority between August 2019 and July 2020 – but 135 were reported over the past 12 months up to July 2022, Gwynedd Council has confirmed.
The 78 percent rise is believed to be due to the number of people who took on dogs during the Covid pandemic with some pets now being left alone for longer.
It is estimated around five million UK households welcomed dogs as companions or for exercise during the lockdowns.
Terry Fisher of We Buy Any Home believes the problem of dog noise is only likely to get worse.
A survey commissioned by the property firm showed that 46 per cent of people in Wales were involved in a dispute with a neighbour over noise.
Seven per cent claimed loud pets were a contributing factor to selling their homes.
“There is the potential for barking dogs to scupper a sale and leave people’s hopes of buying their dream property in tatters,” Mr Fisher said.
“Getting your house ready for a sale is stressful enough.
“But while the inside might be spotless, we know from our customers that what’s outside can also have a huge impact on potential buyers.”
The company sought Freedom of Information requests from local authorities nationwide.
Mr Fisher added: “The increase in incidents in Gwynedd over a relatively short period is staggering.
“[The] wider picture is that around a third of all noise complaints are due to canine noise.”
While a dog barking isn’t illegal it can constitute a “statutory nuisance”.
Councils can serve a noise abatement notice through the courts via the Environmental Protection Act 1990 if they believe the barking to be a “material interference with the comfort and enjoyment of another’s home”.
There is a potential for fines of up to £1,000 if no action is taken.
A Gwynedd Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Gwynedd Council has seen an increase recently in the number of complaints received regarding dog barking, with 76 official complaints received between August 2019 and July 2020 and 135 official complaints received over the past 12 months up to July this year.
“A possible reason for this may be due to an increase in dog ownership during the lockdown periods and the subsequent return of many owners to the workplace with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
“As a result, dogs are left for longer periods on their own during the day.
“Although there isn’t definite evidence that this is the cause of the recent increases in the number of dog barking complaints, it can strongly be suggested it is a factor.
“As a council we encourage dog owners to make sure that they go out with their dogs every day to ensure pets get enough exercise.
“This can help the situation, regarding the issue of barking dogs.”
Animal charity the RSPCA says on its website, that some dogs left alone experience “separation anxiety” which may present as barking.
Dogs also bark to express how they’re feeling, including “when they’re excited, frustrated, bored or scared,” the charity says.
They added: “If a dog feels threatened they may bark to tell somebody to stay away or leave.
“Dogs may bark because they want something in particular, such as their favourite toy or when they’re in distress.”
Health issues can also prompt the behaviour including deafness.
The charity points to giving dogs plenty of exercise, establishing good feeding and exercise routines and providing company.
Understanding why a dog is barking is key and owners struggling with the problem are encouraged to seek help from vets or behaviour specialists.
Anyone concerned about a barking dog issue should try and speak to the owner, but if that is not possible contact the council.
If there is a welfare issue they can also contact the RSPCA.
For more advice or reporting welfare issues, see the Gwynedd Council and RSPCA webpages.
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