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Doggy Daycare Noise Control – Acoustic Roadblocks

by Acoustics By Design on January 22, 2009

Are you planning to open a veterinary hospital? A doggy daycare? A kennel? A private dog park? If so, then make sure that you consider the noise issues ahead of time (i.e., the barking)! Although these types of projects only account for a small portion of our work at Acoustics By Design, we end up assisting with noise control for at least a couple of these animal facilities every year. And when it comes to building the perfect doggy daycare or kennel, there is always a common list of acoustic roadblocks.

Roadblock # 1: The primary acoustical issue to address is the noise impact on the community. Animal facilities routinely meet resistance from residential neighbors. This resistance can sometimes be enough to prevent owners from receiving the necessary permits to construct and operate the facility. Some county and city governments will require the owner to prepare a technical assessment to predict the resulting noise at nearby properties. This prediction will usually include sound level measurements from similar facilities or a calculation based on the number of dogs, distance to the residents, benefit from any intervening walls, and other factors specific to the facility design and the site. The noise assessment needs to consider not only existing developed property adjacent to the planned facility, but also any nearby undeveloped residential property.

A past project of mine comes to mind. I was asked by the project architect to provide a noise impact study for a 48 dog SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) shelter that they were designing. The County required a noise study be done before building permits were issued. With the architectural design almost complete, the architect and the building owner were surprised that a noise study was being required of them. I arrived at the project site to measure the existing ambient conditions. The site was located in the desert and the nearest houses were a half mile away. There was nothing nearby but packed sand and sage brush. However, the empty desert property immediately adjacent to my client’s property was zoned for residential development. Fortunately, my client’s parcel was large and the facility was to be situated such that it would be several hundred feet from the property line. This distance was sufficient to attenuate the noise to below the County’s 55 dBA (Leq) daytime noise limit. Unfortunately, not every doggy-daycare has the luxury of large distances between their facility and the property lines.

Roadblock # 2: An even worse scenario is to build a doggy daycare or kennel in a county that doesn’t have measurable noise level restrictions. These counties rely on subjective definitions of terms such as “noise nuisance” or “disturbing noise.” Working against such subjective definitions is always an uphill climb, and some residences will find the barking to be “disturbing” no matter what the definition.

Roadblock # 3: Another noise issue that we are regularly asked to address during design (and perhaps more often after move-in) is barking in waiting rooms and in-door kennels. The basic solution for both is to include sound absorbing finishes in the design of the room. For reception and waiting areas, there are sound absorbing finishes to suit any aesthetic. For indoor kennels, the selection is much more limited because it is often a facility requirement to be able to wash the ceiling, walls, and floor with high pressure sprayers. Still, there are a handful of suitable sound absorbing finishes.

Some years ago, I was asked to look (and listen) to a newly constructed, 150 dog, County pound. This indoor kennel was one large room with a poured concrete floor and walls and a ceiling of exposed metal deck. It was rare for more than about 10 dogs to bark simultaneously, however, even with this small percentage of the dogs barking, it disturbed the facilities personnel whose offices had doors opening to the kennel and windows to the kennel. In this case, the designer should have specified acoustical seals as part of the door hardware packages, and they should have required window glazing that would provide better sound isolation. These were relatively low cost items that could have been included in the design. The most beneficial solution, however, would have been to treat the entire ceiling of the kennel with a sound absorbing material, though that would have had a much higher price tag.

I will close with a suggestion to owners of private dog parks, doggy daycares, and boarding facilities. Offer discounts and free initial year memberships to your immediate neighbors. Some facilities, especially dog parks, have operating permits that must be renewed every few years. If your neighbors are customers, they will likely support the renewal rather than oppose it.

Acoustics By Design

Acoustics By Design

Acoustics By Design consultants provide acoustical consulting services to architects, engineers, facility directors, municipalities, and building owners. Our team includes acoustical consultants, acoustical engineers, noise consultants, and vibration consultants. Our firm also includes an integrated team of audio-visual consultants who design audio, video, theatrical lighting, and technical systems and integrate them with the native acoustical environment.

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Noelle Smith April 7, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Great info! We are constantly battling with out neighbors, and even though we are pre-existing, we like to be good neighbors and keep the noise to a minimum. Like your ideas about the doors and window glazing. Wish our architect for our brand new building had thought about that…

Sandy Wittliff April 9, 2009 at 11:40 pm

Noise levels will negatively impact the dogs within a kennel. We have an older kennel that has concrete floors, a mix of woodand metal ceiling. There wire walls with a partition between each kennel. Any suggestions as to what to look at for sound absortion.

Nate Sevener April 13, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Sandy, the best location for sound absorption is usually on the ceiling. Look into the following types of sound absorbing products and make sure that whatever you use it has a high NRC. NRC stands for Noise Reduction Coefficient. It is a number between 0 and 1.00 with 1.00 meaning that the material basically absorbing 100% of the sound that hits it. For your purpose, the higher the NRC the better. I would use a material with an NRC of at least 0.60. As to what types of materials might be suitable, look into spray-on acoustic plaster (some types are portland cement based and can be power washed) and vertically hanging baffles made of polymer encapsulated glass fiber insulation (the glass fiber insulation absorbs the sound the thin polymer bag provides a protective facing).

Donna December 11, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Great! Your idea of having sound isolation or sound absorption on walls, windows, doors is really brilliant. Dog owners must be responsible of training their dogs to behave properly. Dog’s excessive barking can really be annoying or disturbing. Here’s one great idea of controlling dog’s excssive barking, try the Craig’s Paw Old Fashioned Bark Stopper. This is so easy to use and at the same time, safe to use for your dogs. When your dog starts to bark excessively, simply pick up the Craig’s Paw Old Fashioned Bark Stopper, give it a shake, and regain control of your dog’s barking. It’s just that simple, dog barks, you shake hand, and dog stops. Please see this product by clicking this link http://www.craigspaw.com.

Pet Sitter Illinois March 4, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Interesting post. I never quite thought about it that way before. Thanks for sharing.

petek asma tavan April 18, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Good point, thank you for explaining.

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