Dog behaviour

Discussing dog behaviours that can cause problems in the community

Owning a dog can provide significant benefits to not only to you, but also the community in which you live. They provide opportunities for meeting other people, promote companionship and have educational benefits for children. Responsible pet ownership is rewarding but sometime animal behaviour can cause problems for our neighbours and community.

Barking dogs

Barking is a natural way for dogs to communicate. Excessive or persistent barking, however, can be a nuisance to neighbours.

If you are experiencing excessive barking from a neighbour’s dog, we strongly encourage you to try and talk with your neighbour in the first instance. Nuisance barking behaviour is not something that is resolvable immediately, so try to address your concerns before the barking has become unbearable.

Remember, dogs often bark when separated from their owner, so your neighbour may not even know their dog barks when they’re not home. A polite chat over a cup of tea or nicely worded letter can often resolve the problem and keep the peace.

Dog owner responsibility

You’re responsible for making sure your dog doesn’t unreasonably interfere with the peace, comfort or convenience of your neighbours. Dogs may increase their barking behaviour when their owners are not home.

If you become aware that your dog is barking, it is important you take adequate measures to address your dog's behaviour as soon as possible.

Try to identify what is causing the dogs barking; boredom, anxiety, fear, territorial behaviour, attention seeking behaviour or undiagnosed medical issues.

Please note: we do not support the use of citronella collars as a training aid to control barking dogs. Please research and consider the following advice from the RSPCA before using a citronella collar.

You’ll find more information about resolving a barking problem on the Dog and Cat Management Board, or by contacting your local vet or behaviourist.

Need our help?

If you’ve been unable to resolve the issue with your neighbour directly, and you live within Adelaide city or North Adelaide, please call the City of Adelaide’s Contact Centre between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm from Monday to Friday.

We can help you with advice, resources and by undertaking an investigation if necessary. Please note, we will need your input if we need to undertake and investigation and take any enforcement action.

Dog attacks

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

What to do if a dog attacks

After a dog attacks or harasses you or your pet, if you or your pet are injured you should seek medical or veterinary treatment as a priority.

When safe to do so, it is important that you report the attack to the Council where the attack happened. If the incident occurred within the City of Adelaide area, please contact our Customer Centre on 8203 7203.

Reporting the incident

Like all serious incidents, time is a critical factor in dealing with dog attacks. This is especially important if the offending dog is wandering at large and still poses a risk to the public or other animals. To help Council investigate, please try to note the following information before contacting us:

  • the date, time and exact location of the attack. If you’re not sure, use a GPS equipped smart phone to check on a map
  • a description of the offending dog - registration disc, name tag, breed, colour, sex, markings, collar size and colour
  • a description of the owner - name, address, contact phone number, male or female, age, hair colour, clothing
  • if a car was involved and the offender drove away with the dog - car registration number, make, model, colour
  • a description and photographs of any injuries and location on your body or your pet's body.

You should also keep copies of any medical certificates, vet or doctor reports as evidence.

What happens when a dog attack is reported?

When you notify City of Adelaide, its Authorised Officers may take a statement or affidavit from you. As part of their investigation:

  • photos may be taken of any injuries to yourself, or your animals or birds
  • the dog's owner may be contacted to get their side of the incident
  • Authorised Officers could seek witness statements and other evidence
  • Authorised Officers assess the circumstances and evidence and make a decision for action
  • Council will then issue legal notices as required, and inform the parties of the outcome.

Who is responsible?

You are responsible for your dog’s actions. Under the Dog and Cat Management Act, 1995 it is an offence for a dog to attack, harass or chase a person, another animal or a bird.

Depending on the severity of the attack and the availability of evidence, councils can:

  • issue a warning
  • issue expiation notices
  • take direct court action (in more serious cases)
  • impose a control order (Nuisance, Dangerous Dog, Menacing Dog, or Destruction Order).

Preventing dog bites

Dogs bite for many reasons. The most common reasons are fear, pain or confusion when mixing with people and other dogs. Ignoring signs of aggression can result in serious injury to you, a member of your family or others.

You can discourage biting 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 - obedience classes help you learn about your dog, its body language and how you can communicate with it
  • desexing your dog, especially males
  • asking your vet for advice if your dog shows any signs of aggression or fear towards people or animals.

Need more information?

If you have any questions about dog behaviours, please contact the Customer Centre: