A survey of public attitudes towards barking dogs in New Zealand

N Z Vet J. 2014 Nov;62(6):321-7. doi: 10.1080/00480169.2014.921852. Epub 2014 Sep 18.


Aims: To investigate public attitudes towards barking dogs in New Zealand in order to quantify the extent to which people perceive barking dogs to be a problem, to compare tolerance of barking with that of other common suburban noises, to assess the level of public understanding about the function of barking, to determine risk factors for intolerance of barking and to assess knowledge of possible strategies for the investigation and management of problem barking.

Methods: A 12-page questionnaire was sent to 2,000 people throughout New Zealand randomly selected from the electoral roll. Risk factors for being bothered by barking were examined using logistic regression analysis.

Results: A total of 1,750 questionnaires were successfully delivered; of these, 727 (42%) were returned. Among respondents, 356/727 (49.0%) indicated that frequent barking during the day would bother them while 545/727 (75.0%) would be bothered by barking at night. Barking and howling were ranked above other suburban noises as a cause of annoyance. Risk factors for being bothered by daytime barking were not being home during the day, not owning a dog, and considering a dog bite to be a serious health risk. Risk factors for being bothered by night-time barking were not being home during the day, marital status, considering dog bites to pose a serious health risk, and having been frightened by a dog. Overall, 510/699 (73%) respondents understood that barking was a form of communication. Action likely to be taken by 666 respondents hearing frequent barking included notifying and offering to help the owner (119; 17.8%), complaining to the owner (127; 19.1%) or the authorities (121; 18.2%), or doing nothing (299; 48%). Possible responses by 211 dog owners if they had a barking dog included seeking help from dog trainers (59; 28%) or behaviourists (54; 26%), buying an anti-barking device (33; 15%) or getting rid of the dog (20; 10%).

Conclusions: Barking was considered to be potentially disturbing by respondents to this survey. Attitudes towards barking were most influenced by age, dog ownership, past experience with dogs and attitude towards dog bites. Public understanding of the possible reasons for barking and appropriate methods of managing the behaviour when it becomes a problem could be improved by better education and the provision of information through veterinary clinics and social media.

Keywords: Barking; attitude; dogs; society.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Attitude*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • New Zealand
  • Ownership
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*
  • Young Adult