Dog attacks

Who is responsible

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

Preventing your dog from 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.
  • asking your vet for advice if your dog shows any signs of aggression.

Reporting a dog attack

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

When it’s safe to do so, report the attack to Council. Phone 6023 8111 or email

Common myths about dog attacks

Myth 1: Only certain breeds of dogs will attack people.

False: Any age, breed, sex and size of dog may bite. Some dogs or breeds of dogs may be more likely to bite than others if not socialised, trained and properly controlled. What the dog owner does with the dog after it is born, is more important in preventing aggression than the breed of the dog.

Myth 2: A dog that attacks livestock or animals is always dangerous to people.

False: Not all dogs which attack other animals are dangerous.

Myth 3: Dogs only attack if the person has provoked the dog by teasing or being cruel.

False: Dog attacks can be provoked accidentally. The victim may not be to blame.

Myth 5: It is normal for a dog to growl or snap at you or others.

False: These are signs of aggression and need to be controlled in the early stages or the aggression will become worse.