Owning a dog

1.Overview

As a dog owner you have a responsibility to care for the welfare of your pet and ensure that the keeping of your dog does not adversely interfere with your neighbours.

Please consider the impact your animal may be having on your neighbours should it be causing a nuisance by barking, harassing or roaming. The responsibility for your animals actions rests with you.

Your dog must be microchipped by 12 weeks of age and registered on the NSW Pet Registry by 6 months of age. 

When dogs are away from home, they must wear a collar with a tag that shows the animal's name and the owner's address or telephone number.

2.Roaming dogs

Dog owners are responsible for ensuring that their dog does not harm or threaten any person or animal. This means that an owner must contain their dog on their property. When a dog is in a public place, it must be kept on a leash (except in designated off-leash exercise areas) and under the control of a competent person who is capable of restraining it.

Dog owners must ensure that their dog does not enter eating areas, school or childcare grounds (unless prior permission from the principal is granted), wildlife protection areas or within 10 metres of children's play equipment. 

3.Animal Attacks

You are responsible for ensuring that your animal does not harm or threaten any other person or animal. If your dog attacks a person or another animal you will be liable to prosecution by the Courts. Under no circumstance must you encourage your dog to attack. A Council officer or the police may seize a dog that has attacked. Dog owners are responsible for any damage to a person or animal caused by their dog.

4.Dog Droppings

If your dog defecates in a public place you must immediately remove the faeces and properly dispose of them, failing to do so may incur a fine.

5.Nuisance Animals

You need to consider the impact that your dog may have on your neighbours should it be causing a nuisance by barking, harassing or roaming. The responsibility for your animal's actions rests with you. The Companion Animals Act, provides significant penalties for irresponsible pet owners.

If a dog is habitually at large, repeatedly defecates on neighbours property, chases people or vehicles, causes substantial damage to other people's property, or places the health of people or animals at risk, it can be declared a nuisance dog. A Council officer may issue a nuisance order, which requires the owner to stop the dog from continuing the nuisance behaviour. A nuisance order is a legal restriction, which remains in force for six months. If during this time the owner fails to stop the dog from causing a nuisance then they are in breach of the order and may incur an on-the-spot fine. Continual breaches of the order may incur subsequent fines or legal proceedings.

6.Barking Dogs

Barking is one of the ways in which dogs communicate. In some instances constant barking may indicate a problem with a dog's health or happiness. It can also affect the comfort of people living in the vicinity of the dog.

What can I do as a dog owner?

If we receive a complaint about your dog creating a nuisance through barking, we will send a letter advising you of the complaint. If you receive a letter, please assist by investigating to see if a noise nuisance exists.

You could do this by keeping a diary of the dates and times your dog barks, to establish if there is a pattern. With a view to resolving the matter, you might ask neighbours if your dog’s barking affects them.

To determine the best way to stop nuisance barking you need to know the cause. Nuisance barking may be a behavioural problem caused by anxiety or lack of exercise, companionship, or adequate stimulation.

Your vet or a dog-training club may be able to assist you determine the cause and suggest strategies to reduce the barking. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. You may need to try several strategies to achieve success.

What can I do as a neighbour bothered by barking?

If your neighbour owns a dog that causes a nuisance by barking, you should notify them of your concerns, as they may not be aware that a problem exists. Your neighbour may be happy to do what they can, once they know of the problem.

As Policy, we encourage discussion and mediation between neighbours as the best way to resolve individual complaints about barking dogs.

If this approach proves unsuccessful, you could contact a Community Justice Centre. These independent, government-funded centres specialise in settling disputes between neighbours. The service is free, confidential, voluntary and easy to use. You may pursue private legal action if the dog owner refuses mediation.

Should the dog continue to cause a nuisance you may log a complaint with us. Speak with surrounding neighbours to determine whether the dog affects them. If it does, encourage them to contact us too to document a history of the dog’s behaviour. People affected by the dog/s should keep a record documenting each date, time and length of occurrence, and how it affected them. E.g. ‘Woke up and could not get back to sleep.’

If a complaint is lodged with us, the occupier of the property, where the alleged nuisance animal has been reported, will be contacted and the matter will be handled in accordance with our policy. We may request that the complainant assists in the investigation to document what level of noise nuisance exists.

Our policy of dispute resolution generally requires that documentation is provided by 3 independent persons stating dates and times of when the alleged nuisance occurs and that they would be prepared to attend court on behalf of us as a witness.

Should the dog continue to make a nuisance by barking then we may place a nuisance order on the animal.

If Companion Animal Owners ignore the rules, strong penalties including fines and court action may result.