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Wandering Dogs

When is a dog ‘wandering at large’?

A dog is legally ‘wandering at large’ if it is in a public or private place without the consent of the occupier, and nobody is exercising effective control of the dog.

The Dog and Cat Management Act 1995 requires dogs in public places to be under “effective control” at all times. This means:

  • When in public, your dog must retrained by a leash no longer than two metres unless in a designated "off-leash" area
  • Your dog responds to basic voice commands (come, stay, etc).

Dogs being used for tending stock, or dogs that are participating in organised events are not considered to be ‘wandering at large.’ However, all dogs on public streets and roads must be restrained on a leash.

Who is legally responsible for a dog?

You, or the person in control of your dog at the time, are legally responsible for your dog's behaviour. Allowing your dog to chase, harass or attack another person or animal could see you fined under the Act, prosecuted in court or subject to civil claims. It pays to be a good dog owner and keep your dog under effective control.

Wandering Dog Information Sheet