How Strict Are Pet Laws in Australia?

Australia takes its responsibilities to animals extremely seriously and has enacted legislation throughout the various states and territories to protect animals and make sure they are treated fairly.

Most pet laws refer to dogs, although there is cat legislation as well. Dogs can be a particular problem for owners, often because of their barking and also because there are instances where they attack other animals, infants or humans.

Whilst legislation will differ by state and territory, there are a number of basic principles that are likely to be found in most pet laws throughout the country.

Confinement of dogs

It is fairly common for there to be legislation that dogs must be confined to their property, either all the time or at least part of the time. There are many good reasons for this.

Dogs are, by their very nature, territorial, and can easily turn aggressive on other animals and humans if they do not know them. Depending upon the breed and size of the dog, this could pose a real risk of serious injury to anyone or anything they attack.

In reality, this means that dog owners must have a secure area of their yard or garden that the dog cannot escape from. There must be a wall or fence that is high enough to stop the dog getting over it. There must also be safe access for anyone visiting property to be able to do so without coming into contact with the dog.

There can be serious legal consequences for any dog owner breaching such laws, normally by way of a fine. The owner of the dog is normally liable if the animal rushes or chases someone, escapes through any hole in a fence or open gate or actually attacks someone.


Anyone who has a pet dog, or has lived near someone who has one, will know first-hand that dogs bark a lot. Some people do not mind this, while other people consider it a real nuisance.

There are many reasons why dogs bark, in the same way as there are many reasons why babies cry, and in many cases, they are the same reasons. The dog may bark because they are hungry or thirsty, because they are bored and want someone to play with them, because they are cold or because they are injured or hurt in some way.

Barking can lead to many issues with neighbours that can generate stress and problems for the pet owner. It is important that the owner of the dog addresses the barking as an issue wherever possible.

It should be remembered that the dog owner has a responsibility to treat the dog in a humane way, and under no circumstances should they mistreat it in any way in order to try and get it to stop barking.


Most states and territories have laws that allow for a dog owner to be prosecuted if they do abuse the animal for any reason. There are often quite strict laws in place concerning anti-bark collars, which are normally electric collars. These normally give a mild to severe shock to the dog every time they bark and are considered by many to be quite cruel.

There are other types of collars which use citronella, which are generally available, although their effectiveness is widely debated.