1. Are there any dog breeds that I am not allowed to own?
There are five prescribed breeds of dog, these are:
American Pit Bull Terrier
The Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 requires that if you own a dog that is one of these breeds, it must be desexed and whilst not confined to your premises have a muzzle securely fixed onto its mouth so that it cannot bite a person or animal. It must also be under effective control by physical restraint, which means the dog must be on a leash which is no more than two meters in length. Any person who sells, gives away or advertises for sale or to give away a dog of a prescribed breed is guilty of an offence.
2. Do I have to have my dog desexed?
Any dogs or cats born after 1 July 2018 must be desexed by 6 months of age. Exemptions may apply.
If you dog or cat was born before 1 July, 2018, you do not have to have your dog desexed however, it is a very good idea. Desexing is a permanent surgical process which can help to reduce the risk of reproductive cancers and unwanted behaviours including urine marking and inappropriate mounting behaviours. Desexing can also make them less likely to wander from your property.
It is also socially responsible to desex your dog. Every year the RSPCA and Animal Welfare League are inundated with puppies that have come from accidental litters. If your dog does escape from your property and subsequently breeds with another dog it will contribute to this problem.
Discuss any questions you have about desexing with your veterinary surgeon who will be able to provide you with advice as to when the most appropriate time is to have your dog desexed.
3. Do I have to have my dog on a leash?
Yes, you must have your dog on a leash of no more than two metres in all public places and in private places where you do not have the consent of the occupier to have your dog off-leash. Dogs must be on leash when walking along all public roads and footpaths unless otherwise signposted.
You can have your dog off-leash in ‘off-leash’ areas that are designated by Council. Even when off-leash, your dog must be under ‘effective control’ which means it returns when called and obeys commands. If your dog is not under effective control, you can be required to keep your dog on a leash in an off-leash area. Dogs that are not on a leash in an on-leash area or are not under effective control are considered to be wandering at large.
Your dog does not have to be on a leash if it is inside a vehicle, tending stock and is a registered working dog, or if it is participating in a trial, show or class.
4. Do I have to register my dog?
Yes, under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995, all dogs over three months old must be registered annually and within 14 days of you taking possession of the dog.
A person must be aged 16 years or over to register a dog.
5. Do I have to clean up after my dog?
Yes, you are required to always clean up after your dog.
It is an offense not to remove dog faeces and dispose of them in a lawful and suitable manner. Most councils provide plastic bags and bins near beaches, parks and reserves where dog are allowed.
Some councils also include the requirement for dog owners to carry suitable bags for dog waste disposal in their dog by-law.
For more information on how to dispose of pet waste click here
6. I have decided to buy a dog, how do I know which one to choose?
There are approximately 165 breeds of dogs available in Australia. Visit a dog show or contact a dog training school, South Australian Canine Association, Animal Welfare League or RSPCA. To make sure the dog fits in with your lifestyle, check out the select a pet questionnaire. Make sure you meet the dog's parents where possible to ensure that they are friendly and healthy.
Please note, dogs born after 1 July 2018 must be desexed by 6 months of age, so please consider the future costs of this procedure when making your decision to purchase. Extensions up to 18 months may be issued by a vet if they believe the procedure would adversely affect the growth, development or wellbeing of the dog or cat.
7. I have just bought a new puppy, when do I have to register it?
All dogs aged three months or over must be registered with your local Council on www.dogsandcatsonline.com.au. The purpose of this is to provide quick and easy identification of your dog should he or she be found wandering or become lost. Once registered, your dog must wear the registration disc, or a tag or badge clearly displaying the permanent registration number.
8. I have just moved house do I need to re-register my dog with the new council?
Yes, you must update your details on www.dogsandcatsonline.com.au as soon as practicable. You can do this online by logging in to your owner account any time or day or night, or by contacting your local Council. Updating your address on Dogs and Cats Online will update your Council dog registration and the microchip details of all the animals linked to your owner account.
If you are moving to South Australia from interstate you must register your dog on www.dogsandcatsonline.com.au within 14 days even if previously you had lifetime registration. Lifetime registration is non-transferrable.
9. I have lost my dog what should I do?
If your dog goes missing you should contact your local council as soon as possible and advise them that your dog is missing. If your local council has found your dog, they will hold (impound) it for 72 hours to allow you to claim it. If you have not claimed your dog after 72 hours under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 the dog becomes the property of the Council. The Council is required to post a ‘Notification of Detention of Dog’ at the Council office so it can be accessed 24/7 e.g. a notice board or window. The Notification of Detention includes a photo and description of the dog and details about where it was found. Many councils also post details of the dogs they have found online.
If in the Adelaide metropolitan, Pt. Lincoln or Whyalla areas, you should contact the RSPCA and the Animal Welfare League to check if they are holding your dog.
If your dog is registered, the council will be able to call you and let you know they have found your dog. For this reason it is very important to keep your dog registered and your contact details up to date.
You can log in to www.dogsandcatsonline.com.au and change the status of your dog to 'lost' and enable you to leave a public message and contact details. Should a member of the public find your dog and look up their registration disc on Dogs and Cats Online, they will be able to contact you directly without going through the Council.
10. I have seen anti-barking muzzles, can I leave one of these on a dog whilst I am at work?
Barking muzzles are fitted over the dogs face to prevent the dog from fully opening their mouth. Dogs must not be left unattended whilst wearing any muzzles as they can sometimes cause breathing difficulties.
11. I want to train my dog with an electric collar, is this legal?
Under the Animal Welfare Act 1985 a person must not place a collar on an animal that is designed to give an electric shock.
12. Does a dog have to be restrained when travelling in a motor vehicle?
Under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995, dogs do need to be restrained if travelling in the open tray of a utility truck (ute) or similar vehicle. This means being transported in a cage or similar enclosure or tethered to the vehicle so that the dog cannot fall or escape from the vehicle. This does not apply to an accredited guide dog or a dog that is being used in the droving or tending of stock or is going to or returning from a place where it will be or has been so used.
There is no requirement for a dog to be restrained when travelling in other vehicle types. However, it is important to note that under the Animal Welfare Act 1985 it is an offence to commit an act which "intentionally, unreasonably or recklessly causes the animal unnecessary harm". Owners should therefore consider restraining dogs travelling in motor vehicles so that they are not unnecessarily harmed in the case of an accident.
13. My neighbour has complained that my dog is barking, what should I do?
A barking dog can be extremely distressing to those in your community and to the dog itself. All dogs bark at some time, however excessive barking needs to be addressed. If a complaint has been made against your dog there are some things you can do.
Firstly, check the times when your dog is barking as it may be isolated to certain times of the day, for example, when school children are passing or when people are leaving for work. If this is the case try to keep the dog away from areas where the dog can see or hear neighbours and noisy children during these times.
Many dogs bark because they are bored. If this is the case you can provide environmental enrichment to make life more interesting and stimulating for your dog. For example, provide your dog with a range of toys, hide food around the back yard that they can look for or dig up or take them for extra walks so they appreciate the chance for a rest and don’t stay up all night barking. If your dog is home alone most of the day, you may want to enlist a friend or family member that can visit the dog and give them some attention while you are not there or if your dog is friends with your neighbour's dog, let them spend the day together. There are also many ‘doggy day care’ and professional dog walkers who can help to relieve the boredom of a backyard for your dog.
Some dogs will also bark because they miss you, their main care giver, and are stressed. This is called separation anxiety. If you think that your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety, you can create an area where the dog likes to be, and feels safe without you. It could be the dog’s kennel, a crate, or a small enclosed area in a laundry or shed. It is important that your dog has access to this area when you are away so that they go there in times of stress. You should feed the dog in this area and encourage them to sleep there so that the dog builds a positive association. You can also increase their resilience to your absence by leaving your dog for short periods of time (5-10 minutes) throughout the day (e.g. the weekend). This will help your dog to understand that when you leave you come back and it will make you leaving and returning a normal and predictable part of their day. Further advice can be sought from your veterinary surgeon or a dog behaviourist.
If your dog does bark excessively and causes a nuisance, it is an offence under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995. If you do not stop your dog barking, the Council can place a Barking (Control) Order on the dog which makes it an offence for you to allow the dog to repeat the behaviour that gave rise to the complaint. The maximum penalty for breach of a Barking (Control) Order is $250 per offence.
14. My neighbour's dog is barking, what can I do?
Dogs are permitted to bark unless the barking is considered excessive. If you have a good relationship with your neighbour try talking to them in the first instance. If you know the dog and are concerned it may be bored, you could offer to walk it for the owners or suggest that they contact a dog behaviourist for assistance. Otherwise you can contact your local council who will investigate your complaint.
Councils will only act on complaints where the dog is barking excessively. As part of the investigation, the council will ask you to fill out a dog barking diary. This assists the council in determining when and how much the dog is barking. Based on the evidence you provide the Council will determine if the barking constitutes an offence under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995.
15. What do I do if my dog dies?
It can be very sad and traumatic to lose a beloved pet.
However, there are a few things that you will need to do including notifying your local council that your dog has died so that they can update www.dogsandcatsonline.com.au. Alternatively, you can log in and update this yourself. You may also want to update your vet. If your dog's microchip details are stored on a private microchip registry, you will also need to notify the microchip registry.
16. What do I do if my dog or I are attacked by another dog?
It is an offence under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 for a dog to attack or harass a person or animal.
If you or your dog is attacked by another dog, once you are safe, try to get as many details as you can about the dog and report the attack to your local council as soon as possible. Councils can investigate dog attacks and impose penalties on the dog owner as appropriate. If safe, record the registration tag details or if the owner is present and approachable, get their name, address and telephone number. Record the colour, breed and size of the dog and take a photo if safe. The more information you provide to the Council's Animal Management Officer the more likely it is that they will be able to identify the dog that attacked you.
In the case of a serious attack where you or your dog has been injured you should also call the police who are authorised under the Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 and can provide immediate assistance in an emergency.
17. What if I can no longer look after my dog?
If you can no longer look after your dog it can be surrendered to the Animal Welfare League or the RSPCA.
18. What if I see a stray dog?
If the dog is friendly, catch the dog and call your local council to pick it up. If the dog is timid or not friendly, contact your council. If after hours, the council will generally only respond to a dog that has been secured as chasing a dog is not safe at night as it could run into traffic. If the dog is sick or injured contact the RSPCA.
If you have safely detained the dog and it has a registration number on a disc (e.g. A00000), you can look up the registration number on www.dogsandcatsonline.com.au to see if the owner has provided public contact details.