Dog owner responsibilities

Here are some tips to help you be a responsible dog owner, plus information about penalties and fines for not controlling your dog.


Keep your dog 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 Byron 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.

Watch the If Koalas could talk video over on YouTube.

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

Threatened koalas are seen in:

  • Byron Bay
  • Bangalow
  • Suffolk Park
  • Federal
  • Possum Creek
  • Ewingsdale
  • Mullumbimby Creek
  • Tyagarah
  • Brunswick Heads
  • Broken Head.

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.

Before approaching a dog, make sure you are aware of the following canine communication signals.

Fear v Relaxed


Fearful doghappy.jpg

Smiling v Waning


 greenlight smiling dog.jpgwarning.png




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

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


Informed by community feedback, the Dogs in Public Spaces Strategy(PDF, 5MB) and accompanying Guide to dog areas in the Byron Shire(PDF, 7MB) were developed in 2022.

The strategy encourages responsible pet ownership and considers the needs of dog owners and everyone who uses and enjoys our public spaces.