It is important for all dog owners to be aware of when a dog can be classified as dangerous or menacing, and what that means for both the dog and the owner.

The Council has the authority under the Dog Control Act 1996 to classify dogs as dangerous or menacing. 

Dogs classified as dangerous (section 31)

Generally, a dog must be classified as dangerous if:

  • The owner has been convicted of an attacking dog offence under the Dog Control Act 1996.
  • or sworn evidence has been received on one or more occasions that the dog was aggressive, or
  • a dog owner admits in writing that their dog constitutes a threat to people or animals.

When a dog is classified as dangerous, the dog owner has a right to object within 14 days of receiving the classification notice. Objections must be in writing.

Dog owner compliance

If the Council has classified a dog as dangerous, the owner:

  • Must ensure that the dog is kept within a securely fenced portion of the owner’s property that it is not necessary to enter to obtain access to at least one door of any dwelling on the property.
  • Must not allow the dog to be at large* in any public place or in any private way** except when confined completely within a vehicle or cage, without being:

(i) Muzzled in such a manner as to prevent the dog from biting but to allow it to breathe and drink without obstruction.

(ii) Controlled on a leash (except when in a dog exercise area specified in a bylaw made under section 20(1)(d)(external link)).

  • Within one month of the classification, provide a vet’s certificate to show that the dog has been desexed.
  • Pay an annual dog registration fee that is 50 per cent higher than the standard fee.
  • Apply to the Council in whose district the dog will be kept, before disposing of the dog to any other person.
  • Advise any other person responsible for the dog for up to 72 hours, of the need for a muzzle and a leash in public.

* In this context 'at large' includes unrestrained and running freely on private property without authorisation from the property owner

** a 'private way' is a recognised path/lane over private land, intended for the use of certain people or groups, not the general public 

Failure to comply with any of the above makes the owner of a dangerous dog liable to infringement offence notices under several sections of the Dog Control Act 1996, or to a fine of up to $3000 upon conviction.

A Dog Control Officer may also seize, remove and hold the dog until the Council is satisfied that the dog owner will comply with the requirements.

Read more about dog control offences.