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Photo: Genevieve Ginty


Companion Animals

Legal requirements in NSW

The NSW Companion Animals Act 1998 balances the needs of animals, their owners, the community and the environment. All these conflicting needs are legitimate and the Act aims to ensure that pet owners, pets, and non-pet owners live together harmoniously and that the natural ecosystem is protected.

Dog owners

Dog owners in NSW are required to:

  • Microchip a dog before it is re-homed or before it is 12 weeks of age (whichever comes first).

  • Lifetime Register the dog at 6 months of age and attach a collar and identification tag.

  • Leash the dog when in a public place and make sure the animal is under effective control at all times. 

  • Pick up the dog’s waste – please carry a bag with you at all times.

  • Ensure the dog does not attack a person or other animal.

  • Make sure the dog does not enter food consumption areas, wildlife protection areas, school or child playgrounds or within 10 metres of child playground equipment or any other place which Council has made a prohibited area to dogs.

Cat owners

Cat owners in NSW are required to:

Responsible dog ownership
  • Don’t get a dog unless you can provide a home for life.

  • Identify, register and attach a collar and identification tag.

  • Contain your dog safely on your property.

  • De-sex, vaccinate and worm your dog.

  • Socialise and train your dog early to prevent anti-social behaviour.

  • Provide enough activity and a suitable environment for your dog’s breed.

  • Protect native animals by keeping your dog inside between dusk and dawn.

  • Warn visitors to your property by placing the appropriate signage.

  • Make sure your property is securely fenced and access into your property is prevented.

  • Always supervise young children in the presence of your dog and make sure your dog is under effective control when children are near.

  • Walk your dog on a leash and carry a bag to clean up after it. The extra nutrients are no good for native plants and make the humans cranky too! In our environment, it ends up being washed into the bay and adds to pollution.

  • When in public, muzzle a dog that may display aggression toward humans or animals.

  • Never teach your dog to attack.

  • Never ignore undesirable behaviour in your dog, including excessive barking. Seek professional assistance from a professional trained in animal behaviour and consult your veterinarian to eliminate illness as a cause.

Barking dogs

Dogs always bark for a reason; some of the most common causes of excessive barking are:

  • Boredom and loneliness.

  • Confinement and isolation.

  • Lack of exercise and activity.

  • Separation anxiety.

  • Specific stimuli eg. people or vehicles passing by the property, other dogs or native wildlife.

  • A health problem.

Excessive barking mostly happens during the owner’s absence. If you are being annoyed by a neighbour’s dog, let the owner know about it in a friendly way, offering a chance to work out why the dog is barking and how to fix it. Most owners don’t want an unhappy pet and will take the time to consider obedience classes, increased activity, more exercise, or maybe simply more company. Helpful advice and assistance can be obtained from dog trainers and veterinarians. If this does not work ask a Council Ranger for help.

Responsible cat ownership
  • Don’t get a cat unless you can provide a home for life.

  • Identify, register and attach a collar and identification tag.

  • De-sex, vaccinate and worm your cat.

  • Ensure your cats have the opportunity to interact daily with humans.

  • Provide suitable shelter, bedding and scratching posts, nutritional food and fresh water.

  • Check your cat daily for fleas and ticks.

  • Protect native animals by attaching two bells to your cat’s collar and keeping it inside between dusk and dawn and monitoring its activities during the day.

  • Going on holidays? Pets need more than just food and water so make sure the arrangements for your cat are suitable.

  • Head to the RSPCA project website:

  • Some other useful links

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