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Dog ownership comes with its own responsibilities.  Residents should be aware of their obligations to be responsible pet owners.

Responsible dog ownership

Dog owners are encouraged to follow the guidelines below to ensure responsible dog ownership:

  • Microchip, register and attach a collar and identification tag with contact phone number
  • Secure your dog safely on your property
  • Desex your dog - Prevent potential behavioural and medical problems and unwanted pregnancies 
  • Ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date.
  • Provide adequate exercise and environmental enrichment
  • Provide adequate shelter, fresh clean water and nutritionally enriched food
  • Provide regular training and socialisation
  • Contact Council to change your dogs microchip information when you move house or change ownership
  • Comply with the Dog Owner Code as below:
    Have a leash in your hand at all times when in an ‘off leash’ area
    Keep your dog on leash in all public areas, including footpaths, other than designated ‘off leash’ parks.
    Ensure that your dog remains in the exercise area.
    Pick up and dispose of your dog’s waste. 
    Do not take a dangerous dog on an ‘off leash’ area
    Have voice control over your dog.
    Keep early morning and evening dog noise to a minimum at all times.

Dog ownership laws and fines

Dog Ownership Laws

Laws relating to Dog ownership can be found at the Austlit website under the NSW Companion Act 1998 and the NSW Companion Animals Regulation 1999 

A summary of some key laws are:

  • All dogs must be microchipped by 12 weeks of age or earlier if sold or given away
  • All dogs over 6 months of age must be microchipped and lifetime registered
  • All dogs when outside their property must wear a collar and identification tag
  • A dog that is in a public place must be under the effective control of a competent person by an adequate chain, cord or leash that is attached to the dog and that is being held by (or secured to) the person.
  • Dogs must not be encouraged to attack a person or animal
  • The owner or person in charge of a dog that defecates in a public place, must immediately remove the dog’s faeces and properly dispose of them.
Dog Ownership Fines

Below are some examples of on the spot fines under the Companion Animals Act 1998.

  • Dog attack Minimum Penalty - $550
  • Dog not on lead Minimum Penalty - $220 
  • Animal not permanently identified (microchipped) Minimum Penalty - $165 
  • Animal not registered Minimum Penalty - $165 
  • Dog without collar and name tag Minimum Penalty - $165 
  • Fail to remove dog faeces Minimum Penalty - $275 
  • Penalties for above offences committed by a Dangerous dog and Restricted dog Minimum Penalty - $1320 

Barking and nuisance dogs

In the Leichhardt Council area, approximately 30% of animal complaints received are because of barking.  Dogs bark continually for a number of reasons.  Responsible owners are asked to apply the following to try and minimise their dog barking: 

  • Provide adequate space for your dog to roam in your backyard
  • Provide adequate kennelling and/or shelter
  • Regularly walk your dog and provide adequate exercise
  • Provide “dog time”. Your dog is a pack animal and requires socialisation and environmental enrichment
  • Provide adequate food and water
  • Regularly worm your dog and ensure that her/his vaccinations are up to date
What can you do about barking dogs?

If you have an issue with a barking dog, Council encourages the resolution between people through discussion and mediation. The Community Justice Centre (CJC) can assist with mediation. The CJC can be contacted on 1800 990 777or 1800 990 777 To enable your problem to be resolved through the CJC, you will need to demonstrate that an attempt to find a solution by discussions with the other person has been made.

Council will take no further action unless you provide a formal statement to support your claim. Council may rely on this statement to proceed with formal action such as the issue of a Nuisance dog order or the issue of Penalty Infringement notices. 

Two independent witnesses who do not reside at your home must provide this documentation. Each of these persons must be able to visually identify the alleged barking dog, complete a barking dog survey and be prepared to attend court as a witness if necessary.

What happens if my dog barks excessively?

Council’s Animal Control Officers will investigate the matter. The owner is notified by Council and requested to prevent the barking from occurring. The complainant and other witnesses are issued with a survey form to be completed with the details of the time, day etc of the alleged barking noise. 

If the excessive barking continues, Council may issue a Nuisance Dog Order against the owner based on formal statements being obtained from witnesses and in accordance with section 21 of the Companion Animals Act 1998.   Breach of this order may result in infringements being issued.

Nuisance dogs

Council may issue a Nuisance Dog order if it is satisfied your dog:

  • is habitually at large
  • repeatedly barks 
  • repeatedly defecates on another persons property
  • repeatedly runs at or chases a person, animal or vehicle
  • endangers the health of a person or animal, 
  • repeatedly causes substantial damage to anything

If you wish to report a nuisance dog, please contact Council’s Customer Service Centre on 02 9392 5000 to lodge a complaint. Council may request you make a formal statement to support your claim of a nuisance dog. The statement outlines the dates, times, length of barking, location of dog when barking and the dog’s description etc. Council may rely on this statement to proceed with formal action such as the issue of a Nuisance Dog Order or the Issue of Penalty Infringement Notices. 

Dog attacks and dangerous dogs

A dog attack is considered if a dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal.

All dog attacks reported to Council are considered very serious allegations. Council officers thoroughly investigate reports of dog attacks on persons or animals and this may result in serious consequences.  The minimum on the spot fine for a dog attack is between $550 & $1320.  

A person reporting a dog attack may be required to make a formal statement to support their claim of the attack. Council may rely on this statement to proceed with formal action such as the issue of a Dangerous Dog Order or the issue of Penalty Infringement Notices.

Dangerous dogs

Council may declare a dog dangerous if it is satisfied it has, without provocation:

  • Attacked or killed a person or animal (other than vermin), or 
  • Repeatedly threatened to attack or repeatedly chased a person or animal (other than vermin). 

Restricted Dogs

The following dogs are considered "restricted dogs" under:
(a) American pit bull terrier or pit bull terrier
(b) Japanese tosa
(c) dogo Argentino
(d) fila Brasileiro
(d1) any other dog of a breed, kind or description whose importation into Australia is prohibited by or under the Customs Act 1901 of the Commonwealth, 
(e) any dog declared by a council under Division 6 of this Part to be a restricted dog 
(f) any other dog of a breed, kind or description prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this section. 

Council may issue a Notice of Intention to declare a dog to be restricted dog if it is of the opinion that a dog: 
(a) is of a breed or kind of dog referred to in section 55 (1) (a)–(d1), or 
(b) is a cross-breed of any such breed or kind of dog, 

Dogs declared dangerous and restricted must obey certain control requirements that include but are not limited to that  the dog must be: 

  • desexed
  • kept in an enclosure prescribed by the Companion Animals Regulation 1999 
  • wear a muzzle when outside the enclosure
  • be kept in a place that displays ‘Warning Dangerous Dog’ signs
  • wear a distinctive collar.

For further information read the Companion Animals Act 1998.  

Dog exercise areas

Leichhardt Council provides ‘off leash’ dog exercise areas within the Municipality.   Council has installed signs in each park highlighting areas in which dogs can be on and off leash. See Parks and Playground section of the website to see which parks have Off Leash Dog Area.  Please refer to the pdf-new-icon.gifLocal Companion Animals Management Plan and Access to Open Space Strategy  (PDF 2.8MB)Open this document with ReadSpeaker docReaderfor further details of dog exercise. 

Where you cannot take your dog

Please remember that dogs are not allowed on or off leash in:

  • Children’s play areas – or within 10 metres
  • Within 10 metres of a food preparation/consumption area
  • Recreation areas where dogs are prohibited 
  • Schools ground
  • Child care centres
  • Shopping areas where dogs are prohibited 
  • Wildlife protection areas