Responsible dog ownership

10 essential tips for dog owners

Keep your dog/s healthy, safe and avoid fines by being aware of, and following, these essential tips.

  1. To stay healthy and avoid boredom associated problems, dogs need to be exercised regularly in an off leash exercise area.
  2. No matter how friendly, a roaming dog can be at risk of harm or risk of harming other dogs, animals and people in adverse situations or otherwise, so don’t allow your dog to roam.
  3. Ensure your dog is registered (and microchipped if applicable).
  4. Carry bags so you can pick up your dog’s faeces from public places and put it in a bin.
  5. Ask your adjoining owner if your dog creates any nuisance problems, and correct them.
  6. Train your dog not to bark (Council can help you with this). Numerous dog trainers in Bellingen Shire can help to solve barking and other dog behavioural problems.
  7. Ensure your dog is friendly and comfortable with people to avoid dog attacks.
  8. In public places, keep your dog under ‘effective control’. This means on-leash and restrainable by the person holding the leash (unless the dog is specially exempted), and not more than four dogs per handler.
  9. Take care to choose the best dog with characteristics that suit your circumstances.
  10. Have your dog desexed if you are not a registered breeder.


Responsibilities and penalties

Keep your dog under control

A dog that is in a public place must be under the effective control of a competent person by means of an adequate cord or leash.

Penalty: $330.

Register your dog

Dogs are required to be registered after six months of age.

Microchipping (performed for a fee by your local vet) is a pre-requisite to registration and is required from 12 weeks of age, or at the time of sale if this occurs before 12 weeks of age.

Penalty $305.

To register

To register your pet for the first time you will need the animal’s 15 digit microchip number as well as proof of microchipping and desexing. Proof of concession is also required if you wish to pay a reduced registration fee.

Register your pet online

Alternatively, animal registration applications and fees can be lodged at Council's offices at 33 Hyde Street, Bellingen.

All applications for registration are to be filled out in full and signed by the animal owner who must be over 18 years old.

Claim a concession

To claim a concession on your registration fee, you must have evidence of the following:

  • Desexing: A certificate of sterilisation from your vet.

  • Breeder membership: If the animal owner is a registered breeder, a copy of their membership from an approved organisation.

  • Assistance animal: If the animal is an assistance animal, evidence of assistance animal registration from an approved organisation.

  • Pension: If the animal owner is a pensioner, a current government pension card.


Pick up dog droppings

You should always carry bags with you to pick up your dog's droppings.

The owner of a dog that defecates in a public place must immediately remove the dog’s faeces and properly dispose of them.

Penalty $275.

Barking dogs

Barking dogs can cause severe disturbances to local residents. Where Council receives multiple ongoing complaints about a barking dog the animal may be declared a nuisance.

Further barking events may result in a $220 penalty.

Dog owners are advised that any Penalty Infringement Notices issued by Council are processed and recovered by the NSW Police Service SEINS system.

Dealing with barking dogs

Dog attacks

Significant fines may be imposed on an offending dog that commits any of the following offences :

  • rushing at
  • attacking
  • biting
  • harassing
  • chasing any person or animal

Penalty $1320.


Managing dog and koala/wildlife co-habitation

Many encounters occur in Bellingen Shire between dogs and koalas, and other wildlife such wallabies, birds and reptiles.

Threatened koalas are seen across the shire.

Their favourite food trees are:

  • Tallowwood
  • Swamp Mahogany
  • Grey Gum
  • Forest Red Gum.

As nocturnal animals, koalas are especially active around dawn to dusk, and in spring to summer when they often cross ground to find habitat, food or a mate. Although koalas may seem docile, they can be very agile with surprisingly strong, sharp claws and long front teeth. If feeling threatened or surprised, they can cause serious wounds requiring stitches.

Five key considerations - remember these to help keep your dog happy and healthy:

  1. Friendly or playful dogs can react to koalas unexpectedly.

    Even if out of character, due to “Fight or Flight” instinct any dog can attack a koala if surprised by one in the yard and especially if it’s a first-time encounter.

  2. Your yard, land and trees may form part of a koala’s territory.

    Koalas know their territory intimately and as excellent climbers, koalas will single-mindedly pursue a destination making them difficult to exclude with normal fencing.

  3. The smallest nip from your dog’s teeth can be fatal to a koala.

    The bacteria in your dog’s mouth can cause extensive damage when exposed to a koala’s skin and can result in a slow and painful death. Frequently, the damage isn’t visible until it is too late.

  4. Call Friends of the Koala 24 hr Koala Rescue on 02 6622 1233 for help or advice.

    Quick action is needed in the event of a dog-koala incident given that sometimes, despite prevention attempts an encounter, bite or worse can occur. Koalas might seem unharmed, dazed or even race off up a tree, but past cases show they are likely to need care. If an incident occurs - secure your dog inside and immediately call for help or advice.

  5. Allowing dogs to roam is an offence.
    Roaming increases the risk of harm to your dog due to vehicles, wild dog/s, baiting and other traps for pest animals.

Strategies to manage dogs, koalas and wildlife at home

  • Bring your dog in with you at night, or enclose your veranda with a gate, or create a secure dog run. 
  • Ensure you have exercised dog owner responsibility  
  • Place koala escape poles, climbing routes and trees inside fences. Ask if your neighbours will do similar.


The responsibilities of dog owners are established under the Companion Animals Act 1998