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Dog laws and responsibilities

Dogs can be wonderful furry friends. They're energetic and loyal companions who make us healthier, happier and more active.

Owning a dog is highly rewarding, and comes with important responsibilities.

  • All dogs must be registered by 3 months of age, or within two weeks of ownership.

Register your dog online with Dogs and Cats Online (DACO).

Registering your dog means that if they get lost, you’ll be reunited as quickly as possible. The DACO database also holds information about microchipping, desexing, breeder, veterinarian details, and other historical information. You can even update where your dog might be staying while you’re away on holidays.

Learn more about registering your dog.

Desexing and microchipping are the best ways to care for your dog.

Scientific research shows that desexing reduces territorial and aggressive behaviour without changing their personality.

In South Australia, we have laws for pet ownership.

Dogs and cats must be:

  • Microchipped by 3 months of age or within 28 days of ownership.
  • Desexed by 6 months of age, or within 28 days of ownership, if they are born after 1 July 2018.

Learn more about microchipping and desexing.

As per our by-law, there are limitations on the number of dogs that you can keep on your property. These are:

  • 1 dog on a small premises
  • 2 dogs in premises other than small premises where a dog can be effectively contained.

Small premises means a property of any self-contined dwelling (or part thereof, like a flat or unit) that contains a secured unobstructed yard area of less than 100 square metres.

You may apply for a permit to keep more dogs. Fees apply. The permit only applies to the dogs approved by the Council in the permit application. Subsequent additional dogs require a new permit application.

Complaints against dogs covered by the permit will be investigated and the permit may be revoked.

At Charles Sturt, we lead the way in campaigning for responsible dog ownership. We have a focus on education before enforcement.

However, it is the pet owner’s responsibility to understand the laws about their pet.

Penalties apply: 

  • Failing to register your dog - Penalty $170
  • Failing to update registration if dog has passed away, goes missing or moves location – Penalty $170
  • Failing to have dog clearly identified – $170
  • Failing to Microchip - Penalty $170
  • Failing to Desex - Penalty $170
  • Too many dogs on property – $150
  • Failing to pick up after your dog – Penalty $210
  • Wandering at Large - Penalty $210
  • Dog Attack- Penalty $315

Please note additional penalties apply for dogs with existing control orders in place in violation to any of the above stipulated requirements.

The Dog and Cat Management Board can require the owners of guard dog, patrol dogs and attack trained dogs to:

  • Microchip the dog.
  • Keep the dog confined on private property.
  • Keep a distinctive collar on the dog.
  • Restrain the dog using a leash in public.
  • Place warning signs with a 24 hour contact phone number at all entrances to the property.


  • Attack trained dog: a dog trained, or undergoing training, to attack a person on command.
  • Guard dog: a dog that is kept on a premises primarily for the purpose of guarding or protecting a person or property at those premises.
  • Patrol dog: a dog that, under the control of a person, patrols premises for the purpose of guarding or protecting a person or property at those premises.

If you can no longer look after your dog, you can take it to the Animal Welfare League (AWL). Only the registered owner may relinquish a pet.

Please note that by giving your pet to the AWL, the pet transfers ownership. It is at their discretion if the pet is rehomed or humanely euthanised. This decision is made after a health examination and temperament assessment.

You can be a responsible dog owner by:

  • Adhering to the Dog and Cat Management Laws.
  • Register, desex and microchip your dog.
  • Pick up after your dog in public.
  • Walk your dog on a leash no longer than 2 metres.
  • Ensure your dog is under effective control in an off lead area.
  • Ensuring your dog has access to ample shade, shelter and water throughout the day.
  • Exercising your dog daily.
  • Ensuring vaccinations, worming, flea treatments and vet checks are up to date.
  • Supervising young children near your dog.
  • Attending basic pet manners training classes or puppy pre schools (or otherwise learning how to train your dog using methods endorsed by the RSPCA SA).
  • Providing mental enrichment for your dog while you’re away.
  • Find out if you’re a responsible dog owner by taking our Responsible Dog Owner Quiz.

More information

Please contact our Community Safety Officers on 8408 1111 for more information or to report a dog attack.

For any enquires on the Dog Park Etiquette Signage artwork please email Dani Scuteri.