Column: Pasadena Humane’s advice when the neighbor’s dog barks excessively


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Barking is a natural and normal canine behavior. It’s one of the primary ways that dogs communicate with humans and other canines.

But when barking becomes excessive, it can indicate distress in a dog and it can quickly become a nuisance for neighbors.

Our animal control department regularly fields barking dog complaints. While we wish we could offer community members a quick and effective solution, the reality is much more complicated.

In most of our animal control service area, including in the city of Pasadena, animal control or local enforcement can only take legal action once a dog has been declared a “public nuisance.” This can be a long and laborious legal process, so we opt first for an educational approach.

After receiving an official animal noise complaint, our first step is contacting the pet’s owner. Our animal control officers will present the owner with a letter notifying them of the complaint and offer advice to curb the noise.

Some dog owners do not realize the amount of noise their dog is making, especially if they are not home when the barking occurs. Also, owners may need help understanding the causes and possible remedies for excessive barking.

The main reasons for excessive barking are social isolation, boredom, anxiety, excitement and protecting territory. Depending on the situation, our officers may recommend the following:

  • Providing the dog with daily walks and enrichment
  • Keeping dogs inside when the family is not home
  • Closing windows and limiting access to visual stimuli and exciting triggers, such as people or other dogs walking by
  • Turning on the TV or radio to provide ambient noise
  • Hiring a dog walker or going to doggie daycare

Most complaints are successfully resolved this way — through communication and education. But when the educational approach isn’t enough, neighbors may decide it’s time to start the legal process of having the neighborhood barker declared a “public nuisance.”

One neighbor alone cannot succeed in having a dog declared a public nuisance. The neighbor must sign a petition and collect the signatures of at least two additional neighbors who are also directly affected by the noise.

Each person listed on the petition must keep a log for seven days, documenting the date and time of every instance of excessive noise.

Everyone who signs the petition must live at a different address.

Most importantly, everyone who signs the petition and completes the log must be willing and able to attend a hearing and testify against the dog owner.

Once completed, a petition should be submitted to our animal control department.

Our officers verify all the details with the petition signers and forward the case to the city of Pasadena for review and consideration for a hearing.

From there, it’s up to the legal system to determine if the pet is a nuisance.

If declared a nuisance, it might be ordered that the dog be kept indoors, wear a bark collar, be removed from the property, or some other action taken to resolve the issue.

Pasadena Humane can provide recommendations, but the final decision is out of our hands.

We realize this isn’t the quick and expedient process that many of our residents hope for when calling us to complain about a barking dog.

Sadly, we sometimes hear allegations that Pasadena Humane “doesn’t care” or “doesn’t do anything” about barking dog complaints.

Please understand that we take barking dog complaints seriously, and we do everything we can by law to work with neighbors to resolve these complaints.

Call or visit us online if you need help with excessive animal noise issues.

We have resources to help with dog barking, an online complaint form, and more information about the petition and hearing process. Learn more at


Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on March 8, 2024.