Being a responsible dog owner

Face of a black dog poking out from within a yellow blanket

1. Overview

Owning a pet is great fun, but is something that requires a lot of time, love and responsibility. 

Much of being a responsible pet owner is understanding your pet's needs and being aware of community's expectations about responsible pet management.

As an animal owner, it is your responsibility to provide for your animal's general welfare, as a matter of priority. 

Dog owners, or anyone contemplating becoming a dog owner, should do a few simple things to keep their dog out of trouble and their neighbours happy: 

  • Make sure your dog is properly fenced in at home
  • Use a leash when you are out
  • Exercise your pet daily
  • Provide adequate bedding
  • Provide a balanced diet and access to drinking water at all times
  • Provide veterinarian care when required
  • Train them not to bark excessively 
  • Stop them from roaming or being aggressive
  • Desex their animal if it is not required for breeding
  • Pick up after them in public (you may be fined if your animal’s excrement remains on any road, street, nature strip, reserve, and public or Council land)
  • Make sure they are registered and identified so they can be returned easily if they do get out.

You can find out more about being a responsible dog owner here, including your legal requirements as noted in the code of practice for the private keeping of dogs. 

It is an offence to keep more than two dogs and/or two cats on a property without consent in writing from us in the form of a permit. The permit application process may include a visit from our Ranger and obtaining written consent from your adjacent neighbours.

2. Off-leash areas

We have established the following designated off-leash areas:

  • Baarmutha Park, Beechworth 
  • Barnawartha Recreation Reserve
  • Barkly Park, Rutherglen
  • Yackandandah Sports Park
  • Butson Park, Yackandandah
  • The Willows, Wahgunyah.

Owners are still responsible for their dog while they are in the off leash areas, and must monitor their behaviour towards both other dogs and people at all times. This includes having verbal control of their dog/s to recall when required.

Dog owners whose dogs rush or attack other people or dogs in these areas are not exempt from prosecution.

It is also important to remember that some dogs may, simply by their physical size, appearance or breed, frighten other people when off-lead, so respect and consideration for other users is paramount to ensure these off-leash areas are successful.

Outside of these designated areas, dogs in public places must be securely controlled by a leash and owners must pick up after them. Penalties apply for non-compliance.

3. Dog attacks

It is an offence for a dog to rush at, worry, bite, attack or chase any person, animal, horse and rider.

Any person who is attacked or whose animals are attacked by dogs should contact us so that the attack is not repeated, the community is kept safe and action can be taken.

To find out more, read Agriculture Victoria's 'Frequently Asked Questions'.

4. Roaming dogs

Any dog found outside their owner's premises could be impounded by the Ranger and taken to the pound. The Ranger makes every effort to locate the owner of the animal, but if it is not wearing a registration tag this is almost impossible. 

If your dog is missing, contact the Ranger or pound immediately. If the animal is not collected from the pound within eight days, it may be put down.  

Dogs that wander at large are subject to impoundment and their owners may be open to prosecution.

5. Barking dogs

The resident of any building where a dog is kept or permitted to remain must not allow that animal to be a nuisance. Excessive barking is considered to be a nuisance and may incur a penalty.

If you have a dog that is home alone all day, it may become bored and as a result of that - bark. Ensure your animals are exercised and where possible, have suitable "doggy" toys for them to play with. Happy dogs may mean happier neighbours,

If you are having trouble with dog/s constantly barking, please contact our Ranger during office hours on 02 6028 1100 or 0407 201 002.

For more information on barking behaviour and what to do if your neighbour’s dog is barking, visit  

6. Menacing dogs

We may declare a dog to be a menacing dog if the dog causes a non-serious bite injury to a person or animal. This is in addition to the existing power to declare a dog to be menacing if it rushes at or chases a person.

A Menacing Dog Declaration can be upgraded to a Dangerous Dog Declaration if the owner of the menacing dog has been issued with two infringement notices for failing to comply with requirements such as leashing or muzzling their dog while in public places.

Read more about menacing dog laws.

7. Dangerous dogs

Council may declare a dog to be dangerous if:

  • The dog has caused serious injury to a person or animal
  • The dog has been trained to attack people or animals for the purpose of guarding people or property, or is kept as a guard dog to guard non-residential premises
  • The dog has been declared dangerous by another Council
  • In the course of being trained, the dog is required to attack a person.

Once a dog is declared dangerous, the owner must comply with a number of requirements such as:

  • Notification of attack, missing dog or ownership change
  • The dog is to be kept enclosed indoors on owner's property or in a childproof enclosure (residential)
  • Warning signs are to be displayed at property entrances
  • A distinctive identification collar must be worn
  • The dog must be muzzled and kept under effective control whenever it is outside the premises of the owner
  • The dog must have a microchip implanted and the number provided to Council.

To find out more, read Agriculture Victoria's 'Frequently Asked Questions'.    

8. Restricted breed dogs

The Victorian Government has introduced tight rules about certain breeds of dogs whose importation into Australia is prohibited. 

Five breeds of dogs are banned from being imported into Australia:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier (or Pit Bull Terrier)
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Perro de Presa Canario (or Presa Canario).

All dogs fitting the standard, except where exemptions are given by the standard, are considered a restricted breed dog.

Read more about restricted breed dogs.