This content is currently being updated to take in changes to the law. Please don’t rely on this information as legal advice.
Find about about the laws for dog owners in Victoria
Most laws about dogs and cats are the same throughout Victoria, but they can vary from council to council.
By law you are considered the owner of a dog even if you are only looking after it for a short time. If you are under 18, your parent or guardian is considered the owner of your dog.
Find out more about dog registration, microchipping or desexing.
It is against the law to let your dog wander on its own outside your property.
Allowing your dog to wander can place it at risk of being lost, attacked or involved in an accident. It can also create problems for your neighbours. They are entitled to enjoy their property without your dog entering it and possibly causing damage, creating a nuisance or chasing their animals.
Wandering dogs are more likely to be involved in a dog attack. Dog attacks are often caused by dogs wandering in the street or rushing out from poorly fenced properties.
Stopping your dog from wandering
The best way to keep your dog secure is with a fence that it cannot dig under, push through or jump over. Keep your gates closed and locked to make sure visitors cannot accidentally let your dog out.
If your dog enters someone else's property
If your dog enters someone else’s property and they ask you to stop your dog from doing so, you must take action.
If your dog enters someone else’s property without permission more than once, it can be seized by the owner or occupier of the property or a council authorised officer. You will then be sent a ‘notice of objection’ by the council, which starts a formal legal process. If your dog strays again onto the property after this notice is sent, you can be fined.
If your dog barks a lot or is too noisy and unreasonably disturbs your neighbours, they can make a complaint to the council.
The council will investigate the matter by speaking to you and your neighbour to establish if there is an issue. The council can make suggestions to you about how to stop the barking and assist the welfare of the dog.
If your dog barks a lot
Dogs tend to bark a lot if they are lonely, bored or not getting enough exercise. Making some changes to your dog’s routine or environment may help fix the problem, or you might want to get some professional help from a vet or dog trainer. Contact your council for more information.
Many councils have laws that you must pick up your dog's droppings in public places. When you go for a walk with your dog, make sure you have a plastic bag or ‘pooper scooper’ with you to pick up any waste your dog leaves behind.
Dog droppings carry disease and pollute our footpaths and waterways – cleaning up after your dog helps to keep our streets clean.
Dog off-leash areas
To balance the needs of people who own dogs with those who don’t, councils often require dogs to be on a leash when they are away from home. In this case, the council will generally provide special areas for you to walk your dog off-leash. There may be time restrictions placed on off-leash areas – for example, in some beachside areas, the on-leash and off-leash hours vary from summer to winter.
Contact your council to find out about these restrictions in your local area – they can tell you where the dog off-leash areas are in your neighbourhood and their hours of operation.
Councils can make an order that dogs are only allowed in certain public areas at certain times. For example, they may order that dogs are not allowed in a local park between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Check with your local council about these restrictions, and look out for signs.
Can’t care for your dog?
If you find that you can no longer care for your dog and are unable to find someone else to, you should contact your local animal shelter or pound. Animal shelters and pounds must accept unwanted dogs.
It is against the law to abandon your dog.
Get information on dog attacks and penalties
This page relates to laws in Victoria, Australia. Accurate at 2017.