Legal requirements overview

The law aims to:

  • protect animals from neglect and cruelty
  • protect the community from animals becoming a nuisance or danger.

You can be fined if you don't comply with legal requirements, such as:

Check with your local council to see if they have any local laws that may require dogs to be desexed, or any other local laws that may apply to dog ownership.

Animal cruelty legislation

Under animal cruelty legislation, if you mistreat or fail to properly care for your dog you can be prosecuted and face:

  • fines
  • jail
  • a ban on owning an animal.

The use of electronic collars (such as Anti-Bark, remote training and containment collars) is strictly regulated.

It is illegal to:

  • tail dock
  • ear crop
  • debark dogs.

You can find out more by reading the information about Prohibited Procedures on Dogs.

Transporting your dog

There are also laws regulating dogs on moving vehicles and the removal of dog poo in public places.

Permits for your dog

Permits are required when there are more than a certain number of cats or dogs kept in a household. This number is set by your local council, so you need to check with them what the limit is.

Legal dog owner

Where the owner of a dog is under the age of 18 years, the parent or guardian of that owner will be deemed the legal owner of the dog and subject to any penalties or prosecutions.

Microchipping and registration of your dog

Microchipping and registering pets greatly improves their chances of being returned to you if they become lost.

All dogs 3 months of age and over must be registered with the local council and existing registrations must be renewed by 10 April each year.

If being registered for the first time, dogs must be microchipped before registration.

Your dog's council registration tag should be attached to a collar, adjusted so you are able to fit 2 fingers comfortably between your dog's collar and its neck.

Find out more about pet registration and microchipping.

Confinement of dogs to the property

Legally, you are required to securely confine your dog to the property. This means:

  • your yard must have a closed gate and an escape proof fence that your dog cannot jump, get under or through
  • visitors must also have safe access to your front door without being stopped by your dog.

If your dog could get through your gates or fencing you can be fined even if your dog doesn't actually leave your property.

If securely confined, your dog will be:

  • safe from traffic injuries
  • safe from fights with other dogs
  • prevented from wandering and becoming lost.

You can read more about:

Health and welfare

Dog owners have a legal 'Duty of Care' to protect the welfare of their pets.

Duty of Care includes, but is not limited to, provision of proper and sufficient food, water, shelter and veterinary treatment. You should also keep your dog's environment enriched (with toys or activities) and ensure your dog is properly exercised and socialised.

The Code of Practice for the Private Keeping of Dogs gives an overview of basic dog welfare and health requirements.

Page last updated: 13 Jul 2020