barking dogs

The incessant barking or howling of a dog can upset the tranquility of any neighborhood, and enrage even the most enthusiastic dog lover. 

Local municipal By-Laws usually have some or other regulation in place to address such concerns and in the below note we address aspects of the City of Cape Town Animal By-Law of 2010 relating to the keeping of dogs.

Pet-Owners  – general obligations.

For pet-owners with properties situated in the jurisdiction of the City of Cape Town municipality, the 2010 Animal By-Law offers some food for thought. The By-Law deals with all sorts of pets and animals kept on premises and there are various requirements that pet owners must adhere to. 

Section 6 of the By-Law deals specifically with various nuisances that dogs may cause. 

It states, amongst other things, that no person may:

  • keep a dog that is on heat in a public area;
  • keep any dog which is starved or under-fed or denied water or adequate shelter; 
  • keep any dog which does not have on its collar or micro-chip a name, owner’s telephone number or name of animal welfare organization;
  • provoke harass or tease any dog; 
  • keep a dog if his or her premises are not properly and adequately fenced.

The issue regarding the number of dogs permitted per dwelling is also prescribed and is as follows:

  • Two dogs and two cats per small dwelling;
  • Three dogs and cats per medium dwelling;
  • Four dogs and cats per large dwelling;
  • Six dogs and cats on agricultural dwelling.

Notwithstanding these restrictions the council will allow residents to apply to keep an increased number of animals so long as application is made and is supported by an authorized official (e.g. SPCA).

Barking Blues

The highly controversial subject of incessant barking is also dealt with, specifically in section 6(e), where it is stated that:

“6. No person shall – (e) Keep any dog which barks, yelps, howls or whines for more than six accumulated minutes in an hour or more than three accumulated minutes in an half hour”.

This provides the law enforcement official with an unambiguous and objective yard-stick against which to measure excessive barking.


Although the By-Law is framed in a way that is supportive of the keeping of pets and the enjoyment of their company, the penalties for non compliance can be rather severe.  Contravention of the provisions of section 6 allows a municipal inspector to issue a notice of the offence to the dog owner and to impose a fine.  In serious instances, if the owner does not address the transgression complained of in the notice, the dog may be impounded.  A notice will thereafter be served on the dog owner. If the owner complies, the dog will be returned after 10 days. Should the owner fail to respond or address the issue, the dog may be put to sleep in a humane way.

Take care of your pet by checking the requirements of the By-law on the website of the City of Cape Town under the heading ‘Pet registration’.

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