Barking Dogs in HOAs: How to Handle Pet-Related Nuisances

Howling dogHow much barking is too much? What constitutes a nuisance? Is the neighbor's complaint legitimate or is he or she hypersensitive? Boards need a basis for differentiating valid noise complaints from unreasonable ones. To that end, boards should adopt definitions in their governing documents regarding nuisance animals.

Examples of Dog Nuisance Definitions

Definitions can be limited to excessive barking or expanded to include other issues. Following are some examples:

Example 1 - Nuisance noise from a dog is defined as barking, yelping or whining for more than 5 minutes in any 1-hour period.

Example 2 - Excessive barking is barking that is persistent and occurs for an extended period of time or on a repeated basis. When determining if barking is a violation, consideration will be given to the time of day, duration and frequency of barking.

Example 3 - No animal shall be allowed to annoy residents unreasonably, to endanger the life or health of other animals or persons, or to substantially interfere with the quiet enjoyment of others. Pet owners shall be deemed in violation if their pets:

  • Consistently or constantly make excessive noise;
  • Cause damage to or destruction of another's property;
  • Cause unsanitary, dangerous or offensive conditions, including the fouling of the air by offensive odor emanating from excessive excrement; or
  • Create a pest, parasite or scavenger control problem which is not effectively treated.

Example 4 - Animals will be deemed a nuisance that commit acts including, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Any dog that chases, runs after, or jumps at vehicles moving on streets and alleys.
  • Any dog that attacks, bites or injures a person, or snaps, growls, snarls, jumps upon or otherwise threatens persons without provocation. These acts shall be considered a violation whether or not the dog is confined by fence, chain or leash, or under the voice control of a responsible person.
  • Any animal that howls, yelps, whines, or barks in such a manner as to unreasonably disturb any person.
  • Any animal that feeds from, turns over, or otherwise disturbs garbage containers.
  • Any animal that scratches or digs in flowerbeds or otherwise damages the property of another owner.
  • Any dog or cat that goes onto the property of another or onto common areas to attack another animal or fowl.
  • Cats or dogs that crawl upon, sleep on, scratch or otherwise soil the property of another.

Enforce the Nuisance Policies

Most HOAs require owners to put their complaints of a nuisance in writing, either in a letter or by filling out a form created by the association. They will then send a letter to the dog-owner letting him/her know that neighbors have complained about the nuisance. Since the letter is a warning only, there is no requirement to identify the source of the complaint.

If the problem continues, the board must hold a hearing with the owner and make a determination that a nuisance exists. Once that is done, penalties can range from fines, to muzzling aggressive dogs, to banishing nuisance animals from the association.

Having non-doggy related noise complaints? Learn effective methods for handling noise complaints between upstairs and downstairs neighbors.  


Adapted from an article by Adrian Adams, a principal in the Los Angeles firm of Adams & Kessler llp. This article is reprinted from the Davis-Stirling.com Newsletter.

Image cropped from a photo by The Found Animal Foundation, CC BY-SA 3.0

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