Owning a Dog
Note: 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/prosecutions.
Benefits of dog ownership
Owning a dog can be a lot of fun. Dogs provide company, affection and unconditional love.
Puppies and dogs encourage us to exercise with many studies showing that owning a pet improves your health. Dog ownership also teaches children responsibility, and helps them develop their social and nurturing skills.
Legal responsibilities of owning a dog
If you don't comply with legal requirements, such as microchipping, registration, and confinement of dogs to the property, you can be fined.
Check with your council to see if they have any local laws for dog owners. For example, some councils have introduced compulsory desexing.
Microchipping and registering your dog
All dogs three months of age and over must be registered with the local council and existing registrations must be renewed by 10 April each year. Dogs being registered for the first time must be microchipped prior to registration.
Microchipping and registering pets greatly improves their chances of being returned to you if they become lost.
Puppy and dog health care
As a dog owner you must:
- Feed your dog an appropriate balanced diet to maintain him/her in good condition. Either too little or too much food, or the wrong type of food can cause health problems for your dog. Don't feed cooked bones to your dog, these can splinter and cause injury.
- Supply clean cool water at all times, in a container that cannot be tipped over.
- Provide a comfortable dry sleeping area, along with shade during the day.
- Protect your dog's health. This includes regular vaccinations, worming (including heartworm), flea and tick control, and veterinary treatment for injuries or illness.
- Give your dog plenty of company and time with the family. Dogs are pack animals. They are unhappy if left alone for long periods of time. They need the company of people or other dogs.
- Exercise and socialise your dog regularly, this is necessary for your dog's physical and mental health.
- Ensure your dog is adequately cared for when you are on holidays.
- Not allow prohibited procedures such as tail docking or ear cropping to be conducted on your dog.
Desexing you dog
If you aren't going to breed from your dog, have him/her desexed.
There are many other benefits of desexing dogs.
Desexed dogs can be better behaved and less likely to roam. Desexing pets can also prevent them from getting certain types of cancer.
In general, dogs can safely be desexed from three months of age. Talk to your vet about the best age to desex your dog.
Transporting your dog
If you take your dog travelling with you in the car:
- Don't transport your dog in an enclosed boot (such as a sedan boot).
- Use a harness to keep your dog secure in the car. In the event of an accident, a harness will prevent him/her from being thrown about, or from, the car. This will prevent injury to your dog, and to other passengers.
- Don't leave your dog in a car if there is any possibility of him/her becoming heat stressed. Cars can heat up quickly on even mild days.
- If the dog is on the back of a ute, truck or trailer ensure he/she is tied on so he/she can't fall off.
- Carry water with you to provide your dog with a drink.
Under the Domestic (Feral & Nuisance) Animals Act 1994, "Declared Dogs" include:
- Dogs used for guarding of non residential premises (ie guard dogs)
- Dogs declared Dangerous due to a serious attack on a person or animal
- Dogs declared Menacing due to rushing/chasing a person
- Dogs that have been trained to attack
- Dogs that are a Restricted Breed (for example, these include Pit Bull Terriers and the Perro de Presa Canario).
Strict housing and ownership requirements apply for Declared Dogs.
If you can't keep your dog
Circumstances may arise that mean an owner is no longer able to keep their dog. In this case owners must find an appropriate new home for the dog, surrender him/her to the local council or an animal shelter or have a veterinarian put him/her to sleep (euthanase them).
Dumping of animals is an offence.
If you are having an animal put to sleep it must be done humanely, a veterinary practitioner is best placed to do this.