A well-mannered dog is a joy to everyone and a source of great pride to its owner
A dog’s place in today’s society is almost as important as that of a family member so it is critical that dog owners teach their dogs what they need to know to get along with people. Good behaviour in a dog is not just an accident or a natural occurrence. Good dogs are the result of care, love, good breeding and good training.
Good Owners teach their dogs to be good
A well-mannered dog is a joy to be around and a source of great pride to its owner.
Good dog owners are responsible for their pets and to the community. A well-loved, trained dog is unlikely to annoy anyone. Unfortunately, dogs that cause problems are often neglected, untrained or not properly socialised. Some rules and good management will ensure that dogs and people will live in harmony.
Use the Golden Rules as your guide to Good Dog Behaviour
Unacceptable dog behaviour
- What should you do if a dog attacks?
- When is a dog 'wandering at large'?
- When is a barking dog a problem?
- The law and your dog.
- Who is legally responsible for a dog?
- Who enforces the laws relating to dogs?
- What are the penalties?
- What are Destruction and Control Orders?
- What happens to lost or seized dogs?
- Never abandon your dog.
If you see a dog doing any of the following, contact your council immediately:
- Wandering on the streets with no owner in sight
- Attacking, harassing or chasing a person or animal
- Attacking a postman, meter reader or other person who lawfully enters a property
- Being in a school, kindergarten or child care centre without permission*
- Being in a shop without the owner’s permission
- Chasing a motor vehicle or bicycle
- Defecating in a public place, unless the person in control immediately removes and disposes of the faeces.
*The law is slightly different for Guide and Hearing Disability Dogs. For further information contact your council.
What should you do if a dog attacks?
You have the right to use public land without fear of being attacked or harassed by a dog.
Any dog attack on a person or animal should be reported to the local council. The council will investigate the attack and advise you on the next steps.
If you have been attacked, you should seek legal advice as you may be entitled to claim damages and costs incurred as a result of the attack.
Encouraging a dog to attack, harass or chase another person, animal or bird is a serious offence.
When is a dog ‘wandering at large’?
A dog is legally ‘wandering at large’ if it is in a public or private place without the consent of the occupier, and nobody is exercising effective control of the dog.
The law requires dogs in public places to be under “effective control” at all times. Effective control can be one of the following measures:
- A chain, cord or leash no longer than two metres, or
- Voice control in a manner that ensures the dog will obey, or
- Containment in a vehicle or other structure.
Dogs being used for tending stock, or dogs that are participating in organised events are not considered to be ‘wandering at large.’ However, all dogs on public streets and roads must be restrained on a leash.
When is a barking dog a problem?
Barking dogs are one of the most common complaints received by councils.
Whilst barking is a dog’s natural way of communicating, and can be protection for the homeowner, it is an offence if the dog barking occurs persistently or continues to such a degree that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of another person.
You are responsible for making sure that your dog’s barking does not become a problem. Some people are very sensitive to noise and unfortunately, if a complaint is made, regardless of how trivial it may seem to you, it is the responsibility of a council appointed Animal Management Officer (AMO) to investigate and attempt to resolve the issue.
The law and your dog.
Dogs can be a great source of companionship and pleasure. However, dog ownership also involves responsibilities: not only to dog that needs to be fed, cared for and exercised, but also to the community in general to ensure that the dog is properly controlled and well behaved.
The laws relating to dogs are contained in the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995. The Dog and Cat Management Board has the principle function of overseeing the administration and enforcement of the Act. To this end, the Board works with councils and the community towards achieving a consistently high standard of management of dogs and cats in South Australia.
Who is legally responsible for a dog?
Responsibility rests on either the owner of the dog or the person in control of the dog at the time. For example, if you are caring for somebody else’s dog when it attacks another person or dog, you may be held liable for related damages.
Who enforces the laws relating to dogs?
Local council appointed Animal Management Officers (AMO) handle all matters relating to dogs. The AMO must carry and produce an identification card if requested.
AMOs have the power to:
- require a person to produce a dog, or any certificate or records issued under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995, for inspection
- require a person they suspect has committed or appears to be about to commit an offence to give their full name and address and produce identification
- seize and detain dogs under certain circumstances.
AMOs may also enter and inspect any place or vehicle, on suspicion of an offence, and a warrant may be obtained if the owner denies permission.
It is an offence to hinder, obstruct, abuse or refuse to comply with a reasonable request of an AMO. AMOs may also cross council boundaries to carry out various duties under certain circumstances.
What are the penalties?
If a complaint is proven to be valid, the council may levy an expiation fee. If the offence is serious, the person responsible for the dog might be summoned to appear in court.
What are Destruction and Control Orders?
The local council can issue Control Orders for Barking, Nuisance, Menacing or Dangerous dogs. In each instance, the council has to undergo a strict process to establish the circumstances that allow a Control Order to be placed on a dog. For very serious cases, the council can impose a Destruction Order on a dog.
These orders may give directions on how the owner is to comply with the order. Compliance with directions is compulsory as per the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995.
The local council must also give seven days written notice of the Control Order and must allow the owner the opportunity to contest the Control Order. If the matter cannot be resolved through consultation, the owner may appeal to the Courts to have the order revoked, or amended.
What happens to lost or seized dogs?
A council appointed Animal Management Officer (AMO) may seize and detain a dog if it is wandering at large, has attacked another person or animal, is unduly dangerous or if the AMO believes it is necessary to ensure public safety.
The seized dog may either be returned to the owner or held at the local council’s dog pound. The council will try to reunite the dog with its owner as soon as possible, as long as public safety is not compromised.
It is crucial that your dog is registered and microchipped so that it is easily traceable if it becomes lost. If you lose your dog contact your local Council ASAP.
Lost dogs can be easily reunited with their owners when implanted with a microchip. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and it does not cause pain or discomfort to the dog. Once the dog is microchipped, it will be permanently identified and the details will be recorded for the life of the dog in an accredited national database. Owners of microchipped dogs receive a certificate and a special identification tag which can be attached to their dog collars.
If your dog is kept in the pound, a public notice must be displayed at the council office or, in areas where there is no council office, the police station for at least 72 hours. If it is possible to identify you as the owner, you must be informed.
If your dog is seized to stop it attacking or because it is dangerous, the council must advise you of its intention to issue an order in relation to the dog. If no intention to make an order is given within seven days, your dog must be returned to you.
If your dog is found wandering, it will only be returned if you provide satisfactory evidence of ownership or control of the dog, and you pay any costs of seizure and detention. Further, if your dog is unregistered, it may be necessary to register your dog before it will be released. If you have a dispute with the council, you may apply to the courts.
Contact your local council for more information.
Never abandon your dog.
It is an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty t Animals Act 1985 to abandon a dog and the penalties are severe.
If you find, for any reason, that you are unwilling or unable to continue to care for your dog, contact your local animal shelter, who may be able to find a new home for it.
If for any reason you cannot care for your dog, it is much better to give it the opportunity to find a new home, rather than leaving it in your yard or, worse still, dumping it.
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- Take your dog to puppy pre-school or dog obedience school. It is very important for dogs, in particular puppies, to be socialised with other dogs and people. Remember - if your dog is trained and issued with a training certificate, you will receive a rebate on your dog registration fee.
Why is your dog a Good Dog?
"She behaves herself in public, is never aggressive and stays near her owner." Zoe