Responsible dog ownership

Woman walks two dogs on the beach


The responsibilities of dog owners are established under the Companion Animals Act 1998. As a dog owner you need to be aware of your basic responsibilities, and ‘on the spot penalties’ for non compliance.

10 essential tips for dog owners

  1. Do not allow your dog to roam at any time.
  2. Exercise your dog regularly in an off leash exercise area to avoid problems associated with boredom.
  3. Ensure your dog is registered (and microchipped if applicable).
  4. Pick up your dog’s faeces from public places and put it in a bin.
  5. Train your dog not to bark (Council can help you with this).
  6. Ask your adjoining owner if your dog creates any nuisance problems, and correct them.
  7. Avoid dog attacks, ensure your dog is friendly and comfortable with people.
  8. Keep your dog under ‘effective control’ when in a public place.
  9. Ensure you choose the correct dog for 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 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 70 Station Street, Mullumbimby.


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.