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Department of Premier and Cabinet

General dog control issues

Keeping your dog under effective control

You have an obligation to keep your dog under effective control.

This means that, when your dog is in a public place, such as on a road or in a road related area, it must be held on a lead not more than two metres long by a person able to control the dog. For example, a small child should not be put in control of a large dog.

When your dog is off-lead in other areas, including off-lead exercise areas, you must still keep it under effective control. This means that it must be close to you and in sight at all times and respond to your commands.

You may not have in your charge more than two dogs on a lead on a footpath, or more than four dogs in a public place.

Not complying with these control measures can be an offence punishable by a fine of up to $650. A court may also order that a dog be destroyed.

Rushing or chasing

If you allow a dog in your charge to rush at, or chase, a moving vehicle or bicycle in a public place you may be liable to a penalty of up to $650. If you urge the dog to do this, you may also face an additional penalty of up to $1,300.

If your dog rushes at or chases any person, as owner you are guilty of an offence punishable by a fine of up to $650. A court may also order that the dog be destroyed.

An offence of rushing or chasing does not occur if the dog is under effective control on private premieses, i.e. it is securely confined to those premises; for example, by being kept behind a fence.

An offence of rushing or chasing also does not occur if the dog is under effective control in a public place, as described in 'Keeping your dog under effective control' above. For example, a dog being held on a lead might rush at or chase a person nearby but, if properly restrained, should be prevented from actually injuring them.

Who is the owner of a dog?

The person in whose name a dog is registered is taken to be the owner of the dog.

If an unregistered dog is found, the person who ordinarily keeps the dog is taken to be the owner.

If a dog is a child’s pet, the child’s parent or guardian is taken to be the owner.

A person who is in company of a dog, or whom a dog is closely following, is also taken to be the owner of the dog.

The owner of a dog is responsible for registration of a dog, ensuring that it is collared and on a lead in public places and is properly restrained when in or on a vehicle.

An owner is also responsible for not allowing a dog to be at large, keeping it under effective control and is responsible for the actions of a dog, for example if it rushes at, chases or attacks a person or animal.

An owner can be held liable for the actions of a dog and can be fined or penalised for dog control offences. Owners can also be liable to pay compensation for injury or damage caused by a dog in their charge.

An owner’s failure to properly control a dog may also result in the dog being destroyed.

Dog attacks

It is an offence for a person in control of a dog to allow the dog to bite, menace, or harass a person. The menacing or harassing of a person does not have to actually result in any injury for an offence to be proven.

If a dog attack results in a bite causing minor injuries to a person or animal, the person in control of the dog is guilty of an offence. Both of these offences are punishable by fines of up to $650.

However, if a dog attack results in a bite causing more serious injuries to a person or animal that require medical or veterinary attention, the offence is punishable by a fine of up to $2,600.

In addition to these penalties a court may also order that the owner of the dog pay compensation for any damage or costs caused. The court may also order that the dog be destroyed.

The owner of a dog that has attacked a person must notify the council of the attack within 24 hours. Failure to do so may result in a fine of up to $650.

Where can I exercise my dog by letting it run free off-lead?

Your dog is allowed to be off-lead in signposted exercise areas and while undergoing obedience trials.

However, even in signposted exercise areas you still have to keep the dog under effective control. This means that it must be close to you and in sight at all times.

You may also be required to demonstrate to a council officer that the dog is immediately responsive to your commands.

What are the control requirements when my dog is in or on a vehicle?

The owner or person in charge of a dog must restrict the dog sufficiently while it is in or on a vehicle so that it is unable to leave the vehicle or attack any person or animal outside the vehicle.

Failure to achieve this control is an offence punishable by a fine of up to $650.

Dogs should be restricted when in open vehicles in such a way that the restraint does not allow the animal to reach over the side of the vehicle.

Using a restraint that permits a dog to be strangled or otherwise injured, should it fall from the vehicle, may be an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 1993. Animal welfare offences are punishable by fines of up to $13,000 and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 12 months.

Collection of dog faeces

The person in charge of a dog must immediately remove and dispose of any faeces left by their dog in a public place.

Aside from the unpleasantness of dog droppings in our streets, parks and public spaces they also contain harmful bacteria and nutrients.

They can also carry a roundworm transmittable to humans. Children and sportspeople using playing fields are most at risk of being infected.

Dog droppings also add to the E.coli levels which can lead to beaches being closed after rainfalls.

Failure to immediately remove and dispose of any faeces left by a dog in your charge is an offence punishable by a fine of up to $390.

 Approved animal welfare organisations

For the purposes of the Dog Control Act 2000, the following organisations are approved animal welfare organisations: 

Contact the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment for more detailed information on animal welfare at:

Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Branch
GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: 03 6165 3263
Email: AnimalWelfare.Enquiries@dpipwe.tas.gov.au


This information is also available to download as a PDF. Download the Dog Control Act 2000 Information Sheet for Owners and Council Officers (PDF, 148KB) here.

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