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Dogs

Dog Attacks and Harassment

Responsibility

Dog owners are responsible for their dog’s actions. It is an offence for a dog to attack, harass or chase a person, another animal or a bird owned by a person.

Harassment - is defined as a dog troubling or annoying a person without being the primary cause of physical injury i.e the dog may chase a person or animal but not bite them.

Attack - is defined as a dog acting with force or harmfully resulting in physical injury such as bruising, puncture wounds or laceration.

Preventing Dog Bites

Dogs bite for many reasons. The most common reasons are fear, pain or confusion when mixing with people and other dogs. Ignoring signs of aggression can result in serious injury to you, a member of your family or others.

You can discourage biting by:

  • Socialising your dog from an early age so that it learns how to mix with other dogs and other people in public
  • Avoiding situations that may cause your dog to become nervous or anxious
  • Training your dog - obedience classes help you learn about your dog, its body language and how you can communicate with it
  • Desex your dog– research shows that desexed dogs are less aggressive and territorial.
  • Asking your vet for advice if your dog shows any signs of aggression towards people.

Preventing Dogs Attacking

Dogs bite for many reasons. The most common reasons are fear, pain or confusion when mixing with people and other dogs. Ignoring signs of stress and aggression can result in serious injury to you, a member of your family or others.

You can keep your dog happy and safe by:

  • Socialising your dog from an early age so that it learns how to mix with other dogs and other people in public
  • Avoiding situations that may cause your dog to become nervous or anxious
  • Training your dog – dog training classes help you learn about your dog, its body language and how you can communicate with it
  • Desex your dog - research shows that desexed animals are less aggressive and less inclined to wander (note that mandatory desexing applies to all dogs born after 1 July 2018)
  • Attending dog obedience classes
  • Asking your vet for advice if your dog shows any signs of aggression.

Dog attacks are more likely to happen when a dog is wandering – either having escaped or being permitted to roam free.  A dog that is wandering could attack from being in fear, pain or confusion. As a responsible dog owner you can prevent your dog from being involved in an attack by:

  • Ensuring your fences, and gates are suitable to keep in your dog
  • Walking your dog on a lead whenever in a public place
  • Having effective control* of your dog when in an off leash area and having a leash handy if needed

Effective Control means that the person responsible for the dog can voice control their dog in a manner that ensures the dog will obey.

For more information on being a good dog owner, visit GooddogSA.

Reporting an Incident

After a dog attack, you should seek medical or veterinary treatment as a priority.

All dog attacks should be reported to the relevant Council as soon as possible to prevent further incidents. You can contact our Animal Management Officer on (08) 8828 1200. Please note that if you contact Council’s after hour service, all information will be documented and someone will contact you within 24 hours.

Copper Coast Council is committed to the thorough and transparent investigation of all reports of dog attack and harassment and an enforcement response that aligns with Council policy. Your cooperation is sought to ensure that the best possible outcome can be achieved following an incident of dog attack or harassment.

Many dog attacks go unreported because people consider them minor.  Even the most minor attacks need to be reported as this could be an indication of future concerns.

When an attack or harassment is reported it is likely that you will be asked to provide/describe the following:

  • Date, time and location of the attack
  • A description of the offending dog – colour, breed, name, distinguishing features, collar
  • A description of the responsible person if involved – height, weight, hair colour, age, sex, name, address, contact number
  • Address/location where the dog came from
  • Description of car (if involved) – colour, make, registration
  • Any additional photos of injuries to animal or person
  • Copy of medical documentation.

This information ensures Council identifies the correct dog responsible in the situation.

Alternatively download an incident statement below.

What can Council do?

Council will investigate all reports of dog attacks and harassment.  Depending on the severity of the attack, Council can:

  • Issue a warning
  • Impose an on the spot fine
  • Take direct court action (in more serious cases)
  • Impose a Control Order (eg Nuisance, Dangerous Dog, Menacing Dog, or Destruction Order)

Further Information

Further information can be found on the Dog and Cat Management Board Aggression Fact Sheet.

Barking Dogs

Barking is a natural way for dogs to communicate. However excessive or persistent barking can be a nuisance to neighbours. Different people have different tolerance levels for barking, what one person considers a nuisance may not be a nuisance to someone else.

Barking can occur when a dog is:

  • excited
  • stressed
  • bored
  • lonely
  • provoked
  • hungry
  • sick
  • or in discomfort.

Excessive barking may also result from lack of exercise, inadequate shelter or yard space, moving house or a change to the family’s structure. A dog may also bark to give a warning, seek its owner’s attention, protect its territory, announce the arrival of visitors or respond to a distant sound or signal.

Before you make a complaint to Council we suggest you try and work this through with your neighbour. Dog owners may not be aware that their dog is barking or that there’s a problem because their dog mainly barks when they are away from home. Communication between neighbours and early intervention often helps in preventing the issue escalating. When talking to your neighbour it is helpful to have some information of the barking problem, such as when the barking happens and any factors that contribute to the barking such as the postman riding past, or someone walking past the house.

What is Nuisance Barking?

Nuisance barking is barking noise that disrupts or inhibits an activity ordinarily carried out on adjoining or nearby residential premises, such as holding a conversation or sleeping.

Complaints Process

To make a formal complaint, you may report the issue to our General Inspector on 8828 1200 between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday to Friday. Please be aware that Council will require your support to take the matter any further.

In the first instance the owner of the dog will be notified in person or phone to advise of the complaint about their barking dog.  If the issue persists you will be required to complete a '7-14 Day Barking Dog Diary'. On receipt of a completed Barking Dog Diary an Authorised Officer will assess the behaviour of the dog from this diary and work with the owner to resolve the problem; most owners are willing to work with Council to find ways to stop their dog barking.

If the barking continues, then a full investigation is conducted, including barking diaries to neighbours and if the problem persists, expiation notices may be issued or a Nuisance Barking Order may be placed on the dog, legally making the owner responsible to take steps to reduce the barking.

I've been told my dog barks, what can I do?

The first step is working out the cause of the excessive barking. Council suggests you 'pretend' to leave home. Follow your normal routine, park your car down the street out of distance for your dog to smell or hear you and listen to see if your dog is barking.

Exercise is usually the easiest resolution to a barking dog.  A tired dog will not bark if it’s sleeping. Regular exercise tires your dog easily; adding in some extra training activities to your walk such as sit and drop will wear your dog out mentally as well as physically. If your dog barks during the day, try walking in the morning. Another alternative suggested is to break up your walks and if you generally go on a 40 minute walk, try 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon.

Boredom can be a big factor in barking dogs. Try giving your dog a chew toy containing food, or try some stimulating dog toys that keeps the dog working for their treats. Big meaty bones will also be the highlight of your dog’s day as they find a place to bury it once they’ve finished munching on it.

If your dog is barking at every disturbance outside your yard, try blocking your dog’s view so they can’t see beyond the fence or secure your dog inside or in the backyard, away from distractions. Consider keeping your dog inside at night to stop him from barking at the wildlife at night.

Another suggestion is getting in a professional trainer to help your dog and find a solution to its barking.  Some useful contacts are:

Note: The use of electric shock training methods, including shock collars, is illegal in South Australia under the Animal Welfare Act.

Change to Family Structure

Family changes can disrupt and upset a dog’s perception and how it fits into the family structure. Changes can include marital separation, marriage or the arrival of a new baby. The dog may view new arrivals as a threat to its position in the family which could result in aggressive behaviour and resentment. Owners need to take firm but loving action so the dog understands and accepts the family addition and its new position in the family. It is important that the dog understands a new baby will hold superior position in the family and it’s advisable that you never leave the dog alone with a baby. A death or separation in the family can cause the dog confusion and insecurity resulting in behavioural problems. Dogs have the capability to mourn a missing family member and will bark, howl or whimper as a way of dealing with the loss. Comfort and reassurance is required to help a dog through times of a family reduction.

Further Information

Further information can be found on the Dog and Cat Board A Excessive Barking Fact Sheet

Lost and Found (Wandering) Dogs and Impounded Dogs

Lost Dogs

In the event that your dog becomes lost, please contact Council immediately to make a report as it may have been collected and taken to the Council's pound facilities.  When reporting a lost dog, please provide its registration number, name, sex, breed, colour, age, microchip number, colour of its collar, any other identifying features and when it was last seen.

You can also change the DACO system to reflect that your dog is Lost with a contact phone number for a member of the public to contact you direct.

Found DogsLost Dog

If you have found a dog wandering at large please contact Council between 8.30 am and 5.00 pm daily.  Council will attempt to identify and contact the owners.  If Council are unable to contact the owners, an Officer will collect the dog as quickly as possible.

If you have found a dog outside of these hours if possible, please hold onto the dog and contact Council.

Lost dogs can be frightened and not traffic smart which means their safety could be at risk.  Please remember that some frightened dogs could also become aggressive, so be cautious if approaching an unknown dog.  Contact the Council immediately if the dog shows signs of aggression.  An Animal Officer will attend as soon as possible to collect the dog.  If it is friendly, contain the dog as soon as possible to protect the dog from any harm that could come from continuously wandering.

Impounded Dogs

Council maintains an up-to date listing of all animals that have been lost or found and make every effort to reunite you and your pet as soon as possible. To help make the return process quicker, please ensure your pet's microchip and registration details are up to date. If you are unsure if your dog details are up to date please login into DACO.

When Council collects a wandering dog, the Officer will do the following:

  • Check registration tag/identification tag
  • Check for a microchip
  • Check Council's lost dog register
  • Display a public notice in our Kadina office.

Council aims to return the dog direct to the owner but for dogs whose owners are not located or contactable, the dog will be cared for at Councils pound facility.

All dogs must be claimed within seventy-two (72) hours, any dog unclaimed after this time becomes the property of Council and if suitable, will be re-homed.

To collect any impounded dog, you will require photo identification eg driver's licence  to confirm your current address.

Dogs Wandering At Large

A dog is also considered to be 'wandering at large' if the dog is in a public or private place (eg CBD, outside your premises on Council road or someone else's private property without the consent of the occupier) and nobody is exercising effective control of the dog by means of a physical restraint or command when the dog being in close proximity to the person where the person can see the dog at all times.

If a dog is found in a public or private place without the consent of the occupier and nobody is exercising effective control over the dog, it is considered to be ‘ wandering at large ’ (an offence under the Dog and Cat Management Act ).

Further information can be found on the Dog and Cat Board Wandering Dogs Fact Sheet