If your dog runs her mouth, she could get you into trouble with the law. There are few statewide laws for barking in Pennsylvania, as local governments make their own rules -- but if your dog breaks those rules, you'll have trouble with more than an angry neighbor.
In Pennsylvania, local governments make the rules regarding dog barking statutes. These are typically classified as noise pollution or nuisance violation laws, and may or may not be categorized specifically under dog laws. That being the case, you can never assume your area doesn't have any barking statutes. If you're unsure, frequent or disruptive barking that can be heard from a neighbor's property is grounds for an enquiry.
The law only allows for so much wiggle room, so if your dog is pegged as a nuisance by neighbors, a formal investigation will determine just how bad the problem is. This is where it gets technical regarding the specific laws for where you live in PA. For example, in Pittsburgh, dog barking statutes vary between general residential properties and apartments that share a building. If your dog is barking at a decibel level above that which the law specifies as acceptable -- and does so outside the hours when such a noise level is permitted -- then you can be found in violation of the noise ordinance.
Exceptions to Rules
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules. For example, in Pittsburgh, inappropriate noise has to last a certain amount of time to be considered a nuisance -- a bark or two per night is unlikely to be a problem. One of the few statewide dog barking laws in PA specifies that game commission-approved training areas are not necessarily subject to the same rules. In this case, the dog training area only has to adhere to the noise nuisance laws that were in effect when the establishment received its authorization permit from the game commission. Essentially, if the rules change after the establishment is authorized, it doesn't have to follow the new ones.
Depending on where you live, you're liable to pay a hefty fine for noise violations, and your pooch probably won't pitch in for it. Before you go installing soundproofed walls, consider a dog behaviorist or trainer who can help you combat the barking problem. The only way that you can make your dog stop barking and stop racking up fines is with consistent discipline, not infrequent punishment, so get your dog some training help before the 5-0 comes knocking.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.