Responsibilities of Pet Owners

Dogs and cats make wonderful companions. They can give you joy, company, comfort and security.

However, they also bring you new responsibilities. As well as caring for your pet, you have legal responsibilities with the ownership of a cat or dog.

As a dog or cat owner, you need to be familiar with the legal requirements of the Companion Animals Act 1998 and the associated regulations.

Caring for your Pet

You need to ensure your pet is healthy and happy by keeping it well nourished, clean and groomed, vaccinated and properly exercised and socialised.

If leaving your pet at home alone, you need to ensure that it has access to water and shade as well as some form of entertainment to keep it occupied during your absence.


Dogs in Public Places

At all times dogs must be on a leash when in public areas unless it is stipulated as a “Leash Free Area”. There are no roads or road related areas or footpaths at roads in the North Sydney local government area that are leash free. So a person cannot, for example, legally walk a dog to a leash free park without the dog being on a lead and under the control of a competent person who is holding the lead.

Most issues raised with Council regarding companion animals concern dogs. The complaints are usually because an owner does not know about the laws relating to dog ownership.

Controlling your Dog

The Companion Animals Act states that no person can control more than four dogs at the one time.

Even professional dog walkers must not have more than four dogs with them at the one time. If you have more than four dogs with you at one time you may be fined.

When on a leash, your dog must not be allowed to jump at a person or animal. Your dog is not considered to be under effective control when it is tied to a fixed object such as a table at a cafe or a street sign as it can still jump at or attack passing people or animals.

In off-leash areas, you are still required to have effective control over your dog. Remember, people have different understandings of what is safe play. What you consider boisterous play may be considered an attack by another owner.

Cleaning up After your Dog

If a dog defecates in a public place or on someone else’s property, the person in control of the dog must IMMEDIATELY remove the faeces and dispose of it properly. Penalties apply for failing to immediately remove faeces. Council provides dog waste clean up bags and bins at all off-leash parks and we encourage you to use them.


Dogs like to bark, however, the sound of barking can be disturbing to other people and Council receives regular complaints about this. In order to minimise barking, you should ensure there is enough room for your pet to move and play, and enough water and food. There are many reasons why dogs bark so it is important to ensure you understand your dog’s behaviour and the triggers are managed and your dog is appropriately trained.

Leash Required Areas

There are many off-leash exercise areas in the North Sydney area.

Dogs must be on a leash held by a competent person at all times when they are in:

  • Cremorne Point Reserve and foreshore
  • Clark Park and Ancrum Street Park
  • St Leonards Park Ovals (1 & 2)

There are no areas of bushland in the North Sydney area where a dog is allowed to be off leash.

  • Balls Head Reserve, Berry Island Reserve,
  • Smoothey Park, Gore Cove, Forsyth Park, Waverton
  • Park, Tunks Park, Tryon Avenue, Brightmore
  • Reserve, Bridge End and Primrose Park

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