Problems with dogs

Overview

Owners are responsible for ensuring their dog does not bite, attack or rush at any person or animal. Owners should also ensure their dog does not cause a nuisance by killing wildlife, damaging property, causing a traffic accident, barking excessively, trespassing on other people's property, wandering away from the owner’s property or defecating in public areas.

Rushing at someone means approaching a person in a menacing manner and displaying aggressive tendencies such as snarling, growling and raising hackles.

By law, dogs must be securely confined to the property. Owners must provide safe visitor access to the front door of their home. Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times in public places, except in designated off-leash areas, where they must be under effective voice control.

Something you may not know — if a dog is being looked after or walked by someone other than the registered owner and it is involved in a breach of the Domestic Animals Act 1994 or Council's Local Law, the person in charge of the dog at the time is considered to be the owner. An owner must be over 17 years.

If you wish to report a problem with a dog causing a nuisance or you and/or your pet are involved in a dog attack, contact us on 9524 3333 as soon as is practicable after the event.

Barking dogs

Barking is a natural behaviour for dogs — it is one way that they communicate. Dogs generally do not bark without a reason and excessive barking is often a sign that something is wrong. Barking can occur when a dog is excited; stressed; bored; lonely; provoked; hungry; sick; or in discomfort.

Excessive barking may also result from lack of exercise, inadequate shelter or yard space, moving house or a change to the family’s structure. A dog may also bark to give a warning, seek its owner’s attention, protect its territory, announce the arrival of visitors or respond to a distant sound or signal.

Dog owners must ensure their dogs do not annoy neighbours by barking excessively.

For further information and advice on barking dogs, download a copy of our booklet below.

Barking dogs booklet(PDF, 1MB)

Dangerous dogs

Council may declare a dog to be dangerous if it attacks or bites a person or animal. Under the provision of the Domestic Animals Act 1994, a dog will be declared as being dangerous if it is trained or is being trained to attack or bite people; is being kept to guard non-residential property; or has been declared dangerous by another council. In these instances, it is the owners' responsibility to notify us that they own a dangerous dog.

All dangerous dogs must be permanently identified by a microchip implant. We must be supplied with the microchip number for our records. Dangerous dogs must also wear a specific dangerous dog collar (which is red and yellow striped). It is an offence for any dog to wear such a collar if it is not declared a dangerous dog.

Owners are also required to display a ‘dangerous dog’ sign at the entrance to their property.

When the dog is away from the owner’s property (and not guarding non-residential property), it must be muzzled and on a leash at all times.

On the owner’s residential premises, a dangerous dog must be kept indoors or in a childproof, escape-proof enclosure which complies with the Domestic Animal Act 1994.

Outdoor enclosures for dangerous dogs must be fully enclosed and have a weatherproof sleeping area. There are minimum size requirements and set materials from which enclosures must be constructed. Enclosures must also be able to be securely locked.

Menacing dogs

Council may declare a dog to be a menacing dog if it has rushed at or chased a person in an aggressive manner, or if the dog has been declared a menacing dog by another council. Menacing dogs should be muzzled and restrained by a chain, cord or leash when outside the owner’s property.

Owners of dangerous or menacing dogs must notify Council within 24 hours if the dog rushes at or chases a person, is missing, or if the ownership of the dog changes.

Preventing dog attacks

If a dog threatens or attacks someone who is either outside the owner's property or trying to access the front door, the owner may be held legally and financially responsible for all damages resulting from the attack. The owner is responsible, even if they are not at home when the incident occurs.

Owners must not allow their dog to rush at, bite, attack, worry or chase a person or animal. If it does, they may be prosecuted and found to be liable for any damage it may have caused. Furthermore, a Magistrates’ Court can order the destruction of the dog.

By law, dogs must be securely confined to their owner's property and owners should provide safe visitor access to the front door. When dogs are away from their owner's property they must always keep them on a lead, except in designated off-leash areas, where they must be kept under effective voice control.

Always supervise children with dogs and be sure to give dogs plenty of exercise, obedience training and socialisation.

How can I defend myself against a dog attack?

If faced with an aggressive dog, the following suggestions may help to reduce the severity of the attack:

  • Stand still and remain calm.
  • Do not look at the dog’s eyes.
  • Running away, yelling or displaying aggressive behaviour will, in most cases, further aggravate the animal or invite it to chase.
  • If the person being attacked is on the ground, their best defence is to cover their neck, head and face with their arms and curl their knees up to their chest.
  • Continue to remain still until the dog loses interest or is called away. Then, when it is safe to move away from the dog, do so slowly and carefully keeping the dog in view at all times.
  • It is unwise to approach any dog tied up or tethered and unattended. Always seek permission from the owner prior to patting a dog. Remember, even dogs that may appear quite friendly, should be approached with caution.

If residents or their pets are bitten, attacked, rushed at or chased by a dog, or they witness an attack, they should report the matter to us immediately on 9524 3333.

Be prepared to give as much information about the incident as possible including time, location, a description of the dog and/or the owner along with all your contact details. This information enables Council officers to follow up and take appropriate action to ensure the community is safe.