Not only is it against the law to allow your dog to wander, pets wandering at large can pose a serious public health and safety risk. They can create a traffic hazard, or may become aggressive and cause harm to other people, animals or wildlife. Wandering dogs can also spread diseases and parasites to other animals in the area, so ensure your pet is vaccinated and treated. If your pet is found wandering you could be up for fines in excess of $200.
Why does my dog wander?
- Animals are social creatures dependent on their pack for company, leadership and guidance. A pet that is left alone for extended periods and not exercised or socialised with the family may seek out the company of other animals.
- Entire animals (not desexed) will wander to seek out a partner.
- Some animals may wander in search of food.
- Fear or anxiety from loud noises such as fireworks or thunder can cause animals to flee their yards in seek of safety.
What’s the problem if my dog wanders?
Wandering promotes antisocial behaviour by encouraging and strengthening the animal’s instinct to fight for dominance. An animal that is used to having freedom, and then expected to be confined is likely to protest. The animal will act independently and generally be disobedient and uncontrollable at home. This can be displayed with destructive behaviour, digging holes, agitation and excessive noise.
Entire animals (not desexed) that wander will seek out a partner, increasing the number of unwanted pregnancies. The pregnant animal and their litters then cause additional costs and care for their owners, and in some situations become unwanted and abandoned. This causes pressure on Council to control stray animals, increases the number of animals at pounds or shelters and consequently leads to increased euthanasia costs.
Wandering animals can develop territories that are public places. This can causes the animal to be highly agitated and aggressive. The dog may dominate their territory, seek the attention of females and fight other animals in the area, which can result injury or even death. The animal may also attack people, walking by or try to move them along.
Wandering promotes antisocial behaviour by encouraging and strengthening the animal’s natural instinct to chase. The animal may pursue people, other animals or even vehicles and bicycles. If in search of food, the animal may scavenge through bins in public places or attack livestock and wildlife.
How can I stop my dog from wandering?
To reduce the likelihood of your pet wandering you should investigate the following:
- desexing your pet – desexed animals are less likely to wander
- securely fencing your property or consider options such as electric containment fences
- creating a fun environment for them to play in while you are out by giving them toys and treats.
- teaching your dog to basic commands such as "wait at the gate" and only go out when you allow them to
- addressing the source of the fear or anxiety that is causing your pet to escape by talking to a vet or animal behaviourist.
What are the consequences if my dog wanders?
Wandering animals have a negative impact on the community, who have the right to walk in public places without fear of being attacked. If your animal is found wandering at large Council can issue you an on the spot fine. If your dog is impounded additional fees may apply.
When complaints are received about wandering animals, Council will increase patrols in the area and the animal will be impounded. Report a wandering animal by calling Council on 07 4932 9000.