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RSPCA Policy A08 Dog management

8.1RSPCA Australia recognises that responsible dog ownership means owners accepting full responsibility for dogs in terms of their welfare, as well as meeting the standards for dog management that are expected by the community (see A1).
8.2Government policy on the management of dogs in the community must maintain a balance between the need to protect the health and safety of humans and other animals and the need to ensure the welfare of dogs.
8.3Education plays a key role in the effective management of dogs in the community. This includes both the education of dog owners on the importance of responsible pet ownership and appropriate socialisation and training of dogs, and the education of the general public and particularly children on understanding dog behaviour and human-animal interactions.
8.4Exercise and control
8.4.1All dogs must have the opportunity for regular, appropriate exercise to promote good physical and psychological health, provide contact with humans and allow socialisation with other dogs.
8.4.2RSPCA Australia recognises that, for the safety of animals and humans, dogs should be under effective control when in public places. Dogs may be exercised on a leash or off-leash in designated areas where the handler has effective voice control of the dog.
8.4.3 All municipalities must provide sufficient safe and accessible public open spaces, such as parks, beaches or walking tracks, where dogs are permitted to be exercised off-leash. Such areas should be adequately signposted to advise people entering them that they may encounter unleashed dogs and fenced where appropriate.
8.4.4Devices used to control dogs

A properly fitted collar or harness used with a leash is an effective form of control and training aid for dogs. Collars and harnesses must be of an appropriate size, strength, material and design for the individual dog to provide effective control, but must not cause injury, pain or distress or restrict the dog’s normal activities such as panting and drinking.

8.5Dangerous dogs
8.5.1RSPCA Australia considers that any dog of any size, breed or mix of breeds may be dangerous and thus dogs should not be declared dangerous on the basis of breed or appearance. Each individual dog should be assessed based on their behaviour.
8.5.2RSPCA Australia does not support dog management legislation that discriminates against specific types or breeds of dogs.

The RSPCA believes that a prevention strategy for dog attacks must contain the following key elements:

  • Registration and microchipping of all dogs: so that all dogs are traceable to their owners and that owners can be directly informed of their legal responsibilities.
  • Control of unrestrained and free-roaming animals: through the resourcing of local councils to enforce existing dog control provisions
  • Provisions for the control of menacing dogs: measures are put in place to intervene early where a dog has exhibited repeated threatening behaviour but does not meet the definition of a dangerous dog.
  • Desexing of non-breeding dogs: male entire dogs are at greater risk of aggression and female entire dogs add to this risk by attracting entire males. Increased desexing rates can be achieved through desexing prior to sexual maturity, mandatory desexing prior to rehoming and breeder registration for entire dogs.
  • Education of the public, and particularly children, in dog behaviour and bite prevention.
  • Training of owners and dogs: training programs based on positive reinforcement techniques provide an opportunity to educate owners on responsible dog ownership, basic dog behaviour and the use of appropriate training techniques
  • Socialisation with people and other animals: unsocialised dogs are more likely to show aggressive behaviour; designated off-leash areas provide opportunities for safe socialisation.

(reviewed 26/06/14)

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Updated on April 14, 2023

RSPCA policies reflect the best available evidence to direct and guide RSPCA and others, to promote and achieve good animal welfare outcomes.

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