A Barking Matter: Reducing Noise In Pet Boarding And Daycare Centers
By Lahnie Johnson
Dogs bark and we know we can’t change that. But dog kennels and other holding areas are built (all tile and concrete) to make noise worse by amplifying sound and increasing echoing.
The only way to reduce dog barking noise to a reasonable level is by installing the correct noise reducing products for the situation—and each situation tends to be unique.
Anyone who has been in a kennel is not likely to forget the tension and stress they felt from the incredible, constant barking noise which easily exceeds 100db. (OSHA requires hearing protection at 85dB.) Now imagine how stressed out the dogs are, considering their hearing is vastly more sensitive than ours and all of the dogs are barking continuously.
A single dog barking can reach 80–90 decibels (there are dogs that can reach over 100dB). When you have a group of dogs such as those in a kennel or daycare center, the typical noise level can reach an alarming 115 decibels. At this decibel level a person should not stay in the area even 15 minutes without hearing protection.
To put it in perspective, normal human speech is around 60dB; an automobile 80dB and a jackhammer 90dB. Louder than 85dB, damage to the hearing starts to occur. In addition to hearing damage in humans, high noise levels have been linked to lowered productivity, decreased communication skills, insomnia and other sleep disorders, anxiety, heart arrhythmia and more. Dogs also suffer from similar afflictions when repeatedly exposed to high levels of noise.
There are a number of acoustical products that can help reduce noise in kennels or buildings where the dogs are housed or located. Please keep in mind that every situation is unique and should be assessed by an experienced acoustic specialist.
Noise Reducing Myths
First though, let’s dispel some myths and discuss some DIY “fixes” that do not work.
For some reason a lot of people are under the impression that egg cartons help reduce noise. They don’t. Egg cartons are made of a different substance than the acoustic foam used in the recording industry and, if used, can actually make the problem worse.
Another myth is using foam rubber. Just because placing a foam rubber mat under a noisy appliance may absorb some of the sound, it does not mean it will stop sound from traveling through the air. It doesn’t work and is a waste of money.
The last soundproofing myth is installing wall carpeting. It is untidy looking, collects mold, odors, mildew and dust. Keeping it clean is a problem and the reduction of sound is so minimal it is not worth considering—the cons are too many.
Below are some acoustical treatments frequently used to reduce noise that do work. Please keep in mind, you first have to identify the area that is affected by the noise. If it’s where the dogs are penned, then you will primarily need a product that can absorb the direct barking and also the reflective barking off of the hard surfaces. There may also be instances where you need to stop the barking noise from room to room. An example of this would be management offices adjacent to the kennel space.
Sound blankets fall into this category as they can be hung. You may get some reduction in reverberation and sound absorption but cleanliness, odor retention, and maintenance may be an issue.
Acoustic wall panels are another option. They are readily available and a reasonably priced option. Ease of putting them up is a plus, and they are also decorative, but there again odor retention and wash ability are a problem. For rooms or areas with more than a few dogs, there may not be enough noise reduction as a sole treatment. However, acoustic panels can be used in addition to sound panels/baffles when additional sound reduction is needed.
Ceiling tiles can be effective, but may require you to first put up a grid. This will entail the cost of installing the drop ceiling and the cost of tiles. If considering this option, you’ll need a tile that is mold resistant, non-odor retentive, and can be washed. Never use a ceiling tile made of gypsum board covered with PVC. This type won’t do much to reduce noise in the room. Look for a tile that has a high NRC (1.00 or higher); this will help reduce reverberation and echoing in the room.
Acoustic Panels/Baffles Treatment
Usually the best solution for kennels and the like is some type of acoustic baffle or panel that can be hung from the ceiling. Sound baffles or panels that mount up in the ceiling are one of the most effective methods to reduce reverberation and reduce noise because more surface areas (2 faces and 4 edges) of the panel are exposed to the room. They also usually do not interfere with fire sprinklers, lighting and do not block air circulation.
There are many types for both indoor and outdoor applications. Be sure the one you choose is hydrophobic, non-odor, sealed, fire proof, durable and easy to wash. Also, for maximum effectiveness, hang the panels in two directions (front/back and left/right orientations).This prevents open paths between walls from forming where sound can bounce and escape absorption.
There are several types of sound abatement products available on the market to quiet even the most earsplitting of problems. Because each situation may require a different solution, it is important to always do a little research and check with an acoustic professional before installing anything on your own. This will save you both time and money.
As a leading solutions provider and manufacturer of noise attenuation materials for over 20 years, Acoustiblok offers the full range of services and products to solve noise and vibration issues, including problem identification, acoustical testing, design, engineering, installation support and post-installation testing to ensure that our materials are properly implemented and noise control objectives are achieved. Acoustiblok products are used in industrial, residential, commercial, and marine sectors worldwide. The company’s products are all made and sourced in the United States. To learn more go to www.acoustiblok.com or call 813.980.1400