Frequently Asked Questions: Paul, My Farm Dog Barks a Lot and the Neighbors Complain

Updated: Apr 3

Farm dog running under gate with cattle in background. Image by Chesapeake Bay Program
Farm dog running under gate with cattle in background. Image by Chesapeake Bay Program

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I have gotten a few questions involving farm dogs here lately and thought I would take a moment to provide information here on the issues. If you have livestock, you may have a dog to scares away predators that might injure or kill the livestock. This dog may bark throughout the night, which may cause an issue for your neighbors. And although your neighbors may find this a nuisance, many Maryland counties specifically exempt dogs used on farms from county ordinances limiting dogs from being a nuisance. You should check your county code to determine if farm dogs are exempt from the nuisance limitations in your county. For those in counties without a code provision for farm dogs, the county’s right-to-farm ordinance and state’s right-to-farm law potentially provide protections.

What is a Nuisance?

The basic definition of a nuisance is any continuing action that causes an annoyance, inconveniences, discomfort, injury, or does damage to another or another’s property — for example if your neighbor holds loud parties weekly which impact use of your property (preventing you and your kids from sleeping, etc.). Nuisance is easy to define but can be, at times, hard to determine. What is a nuisance often depends on where the action is taking place. If you live in an area with a lot of evening entertainment options, the neighbor example of holding loud parties may not be a nuisance.

Farm Dogs as a Nuisance

Image of two farm puppies playing. Image by Chesapeake Bay Program.
Image of two farm puppies playing.