Noisy neighbours in France: How can I stop a dog barking incessantly?

We look at the law around noise complaints and tell you who to contact to take further action

The law is on your side when it comes to noisy neighbourhood pets
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Reader question: My neighbour’s dog does not stop barking throughout the day and it drives me crazy. Is there anything we can do to stop it?

This can be a stressful situation to be in but France’s laws on noise nuisance may be applicable.

An article of the Public Health Code states that “no particular noise must, by its duration, repetition or intensity, be detrimental to the peace and quiet of the neighbourhood or to human health, in a public or private place.”

The law covers noise made by pets as it states that this is the case “whether a person is the source of the noise or whether it is made by a person, a thing in his care or an animal under his or her responsibility.”

The main point is that noise should not be part of the ‘normal’ expectations of daily life.

Who do I contact about the problem?

Before taking action, the Société Protectrice des Animaux (SPA) animal charity recommends reaching out to the pet’s owner to see if they are aware of the issue.

In some cases, a pet will make noise when its owner is not around, so he or she may not be aware of the extent of the problem.

If the owner is open to suggestions, the SPA says that a good option is for the owner to seek help from a pet trainer with regard to the behaviour.

If it is difficult to reach an understanding between the two of you, you can also apply to an intermediary called a conciliateur de justice, who can help to resolve the issue amicably and free of charge. You can find one at this site.

Taking further action

If it is impossible to reach a consensus, or the neighbour is dismissive, you could consider legal avenues.

Notably, you can report the problem to the police municipale or gendarmerie, who may be able to visit to take note of the noise.

Fines are provided for by law for nuisance neighbours of this kind, at €68, increasing to €180 if not paid within 45 days. If the dog is barking at night time, the fine could reach up to €450.

As a last resort, it is also possible to take the neighbour to court and damages can be awarded if you win. In this case, it is useful to gather evidence, for example, you can pay a huissier (bailiff) to visit and make an official report of the disturbance.

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