Fireworks and thunderstorms
Dogs are particularly afraid of fireworks and many try to run away, sometimes injuring themselves in the process or ending up in the city pound. Our Lost and found animals page contains information about what to do if you your pet is missing.
There are ways you can reduce the chance of your pets becoming distressed:
- Ensure your pet is safely contained with some of their favourite things.
- Avoid using a chain or slip collar to restrain them.
- Bring dogs and cats indoors if possible - keeping them inside may help to ease any anxiety they might feel.
- Close the blinds and create a comfortable hiding place.
- Keep dogs calm by remaining calm yourself.
- If they are displaying anxious behaviours, try not to pay attention. This can be interpreted as a reward for behaving in this manner.
- Leaving a radio on may defer their attention on outside noises.
- All dogs aged 12 weeks and over must be registered and microchipped. Ensure your pets are wearing their registration tag and/or ID tag and are microchipped. An identified pet is never lost for long.
- If you know your pet is anxious during fireworks or storms, seek advice from your vet as to other methods to help calm your pet. There are medications available for extreme cases.
Holidays and leaving your pet at home
If you are going away and can't take your dog or cat, here are some ideas to make sure they stay safe over the holidays.
- If you are able to, leave your pet in a boarding facility, that way you know they are safe and secure while you are away. It also helps avoid any nuisance behaviours that may occur in your absence. Most boarding kennels and catteries require all pets to have their vaccinations up to date. Summer is a very busy period for these facilities so you will need to book well in advance.
- If you are leaving your pet at home, have someone come and check on them daily. Ensure they are contained and cannot escape, and plenty of food and water is supplied.
- Make sure your pet is used to being left alone for long periods of time. Many pets are distressed at being left alone and can cause a nuisance to the neighbours through barking and howling.
- Ensure your pet is registered and microchipped, and details for an alternate contact are listed on the registration. If you are away and your pet ends up at the city pound, the City can contact your other listed contact.
Is my dog barking?
Barking is a natural behaviour for dogs. It is one way in which they communicate. A dog which barks excessively to cause nuisance, however, is often one which over reacts to life’s perceived threats or worries and where normal ‘events of every day life’ cause excessive and prolonged barking that is ‘above and beyond the call of duty’.
You know your dog may be causing a noise nuisance by its barking when:
- your neighbours tell you
- a complaint has been made to City of Gold Coast
- it annoys you!
What are my responsibilities?
It is not the City's responsibility to resolve the problem for you. As the dog owner, you need to firstly accept that your dog may be causing a problem and then take appropriate action to stop your dog barking excessively. These matters are unlikely to be resolved quickly.
We are obliged to advise you that there are legal ramifications for not abating any noise nuisance.
Why is my dog barking?
- Dogs are social animals and often bark when they are lonely.
- Separation from an owner can cause dogs to stress.
- Barking may also be the result of boredom and frustration.
- Barking is a dog's way of seeking attention from its owner.
- Dogs bark out of fear - this can be fear of people, objects, or other dogs.
- Dogs bark when there is a threat to their territory.
- Playing with your dog often stimulates barking.
- Some breeds have a reputation for barking.
- Dominant dogs bark until they get what they want.
What can I do?
If you wish to reduce your dog’s barking, you need to understand why he or she is barking. Ongoing barking is often a symptom of another problem, and taking time to understand what makes dogs bark is the first step towards solving this problem, both for the dog involved and your neighbours.
Barking can be controlled through several small behavioural changes, some as small as walking your dog twice a day to relieve boredom.
Seek professional help from an animal behaviourist or trainer, your vet or talk to a City officer if necessary. Help is available.
Report a barking dog
Visit our Report a problem - Noise nuisance page to find out how to report a dog that is causing a noise nuisance in your neighbourhood.
We are all aware of the need to protect our community from the danger and fear of dog attacks. People have a right to feel safe in the community and it is the responsibility of pet owners to ensure the protection of others and to keep public areas safe for people to enjoy.
Pet owners are responsible and legally liable for the actions of their animals.
Report an attack
If you would like to report a dog attack, please contact City of Gold Coast on 07 5667 5990* in the first instance to provide as many details as possible, such as:
- date, time and location of attack
- description of how the attack occurred
- description and location of the attacking dog.
*After business hours, the above number will offer an option to enter '1' to be diverted to our After Hours Emergency Service number.
Please note that for calls of an emergency nature, you may also call our After Hours Emergency Service any time on 1800 637 000.
Once you have reported the attack to us, a City officer will contact you for a statement and to collect other evidence.
A dog may be declared a dangerous dog (if it is a serious attack) or a menacing dog as a result of an attack. This declaration imposes higher registration fees and restrictions on the keeping of the animal. Penalties for the owner of a dog involved in an attack may also include fines, removal of the dog from the area, seizure or destruction.
Regardless of the size or breed, all dogs can bite if provoked, potentially causing serious injury or death. All dog owners hope their pet won’t show aggression towards other animals or people, but this can and does happen for many reasons.
The reasons for dog attacks are many and varied. From nips to bites to actual attacks, dog bites are a serious problem both in public areas and in our homes.
City of Gold Coast works hard to try to reduce dog attacks through legislation and public education. Find some useful information below to help you manage your dog's behaviour.
Understand your responsibilities as a pet owner:
- Always supervise children around dogs.
- Dog play can become rough and may sometimes result in a bite.
- Keep children away from a dog if it is sleeping, feeding (especially chewing a bone) or if recovering from an illness or injury.
- Always check to see that your fencing or dog enclosure is secure. Keeping your dog confined will greatly lessen the risk to others in the community.
- You must use a leash when walking your dog in public and treat off-leash areas with the same respect as other public areas. If you are going to let your dog run in an off-leash area, you must be able to control your dog by voice command so it does not attack or cause fear to a person or other animal.
- Many dogs are more aggressive when on a leash, thus it is better not to introduce dogs whilst on leash.
- There are additional special responsibilities for owners of dangerous, menacing and restricted dogs. Owners should contact the City on 07 5667 5990 for details.
Understand dog body language
Dogs may bite when they are frightened or when they have been provoked to act aggressively. Leave dogs alone if they show any of the following signs:
A frightened dog:
- has its ears back
- has its tail curled under its legs
- tries to minimise its size by hunching or lying down.
An aggressive dog:
- shows its teeth and/or snarls
- has its ears laid back but not totally lowered
- has its tail raised
- tries to make itself look bigger by raising its hackles and standing on the tips of its paws.
Socialise your dog
When getting a dog, choose a breed that is suitable to your lifestyle and home. It's important to socialise your dog as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals. Other tips to control your dog include:
- train your dog to understand basic commands by all family members such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘no’, ‘come’
- keep your dog healthy – ensure that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date and they have a healthy and balanced diet, receiving plenty of exercise
- desex your dog if it isn't intended for breeding
- ensure your dog is registered
- keep your dog on a leash at all times in public (apart from in designated City off-leash areas)
- ensure your dog is always under control when in a City off-leash area.
Learn to detect early signs of aggression
Does your dog ever tense up, stare, raise its hackles, growl, lift its lips or snap, when:
- eating or food is around?
- its ears, paw, tail or belly is touched?
- someone goes near its bed or toys?
- someone tries to move the dog from a comfortable spot?
- it is told off?
- someone puts on its collar?
- someone grabs the dog, or tries to pick it up?
- it is approached by people, children or other dogs?
Does your dog lunge out at people or dogs walking past?
Does your dog rush out barking and growling at passers-by?
If the answer is ‘yes' to any of these questions, your dog may be aggressive. These are all early warning signs. Seek professional advice to control your dog's behaviour.
Many people keep dogs for companionship and protection. However, some dogs can become overly protective of their property, leading to aggressive barking and fence rushing whenever someone approaches or goes past the property. Such behaviour can be frightening to people, especially children, the elderly and the infirm.
It is an offence under Council of the City of Gold Coast's Local Law No. 12 (Keeping and Control of Animals) 2013 for a dog to rush at or approach a person in a manner as to cause or give cause for fear or alarm.
If issues between neighbours cannot be resolved and further complaints are made, the City is required to investigate and may issue a statutory notice to the keeper of the animal to abate the nuisance. Should the nuisance continue, City officers may issue the keeper with an on-the-spot fine of three penalty units.
Find some ways to solve fence rushing below:
- Keep the dog contained to the back yard only.
- Erect an inner fence in the front yard to prevent the dog gaining access to the front fence.
With any training process, it is important not to expect an immediate change. Remember to be patient and reward all positive responses. Revisit training periodically to avoid having your dog revert back into unwanted behaviour.
- Supervise the dog when it is in the front yard and reprimand it when it engages in rushing behaviour. Don’t confuse the dog by using lots of words, or calling its name; use a guttural “No!” or “Bah!” and praise it as soon as it responds.
- As above, but use one of the following distractions when it engages in rushing behaviour:
- spray the dog with a water pistol
- throw a length of chain on the ground near the dog
- throw a tin containing stones on the ground near the dog.
- Seek advice from your local dog obedience club, veterinarian or professional dog trainer.
Common myths about dog attacks
Myth 1: Only certain breeds of dogs will attack people.
False: Any age, breed, sex and size of dog may bite. Some dogs or breeds of dogs may be more likely to bite than others if not socialised, trained and properly controlled. What the dog owner does with the dog after it is born, is more important in preventing aggression than the breed of the dog.
Myth 2: A dog that attacks livestock or animals is always dangerous to people.
False: Not all dogs which attack other animals are dangerous.
Myth 3: Dogs only attack if the person has provoked the dog by teasing or being cruel.
False: Dog attacks can be provoked accidentally. The victim may not be to blame.
Myth 4: Dogs will bite if they are fed fresh meat.
False: A dog's diet will not make it attack people.
Myth 5: It is normal for a dog to growl or snap at you or others.
False: These are signs of aggression and need to be controlled in the early stages or the aggression will become worse.
Keep your cat happy by creating an interesting environment which fulfils its physical, mental and social needs, such as:
- Toys - you can buy toys, but boxes and ribbons are often just as effective.
- High resting places - a window ledge, scratching post, or specially-constructed, non-slip shelf with views of the outdoors.
- Enclosed spaces - cats love to hide. A cardboard box, scratching tower with an enclosed platform, or an 'igloo' bed are all great options.
- Bedding - an assortment of beds in sunny spots, some up high and others low.
- Vegetation - most cats enjoy nibbling, sniffing and rubbing against plants such as grass seedlings, cat mint and catnip. Be careful! Some plants are poisonous to cats such as the Lily family (Lilium spp). Contact your veterinarian for more information.
- Company and space - cats prefer their own personal space with all the essentials (food, water, bed and litter tray). Before getting another pet, consider the space in your home to ensure your cats won't feel overcrowded.
Many cat owners are in the routine of letting their cat outside to roam but it's far better for cats to be kept safely indoors. Cats are predators by nature and will go looking for mates, defend territory and hunt wildlife outdoors. Wandering cats are also at risk of injury from cat-fights, digs, snakes, ticks or being hit by a car.
It's your responsibility to provide proper fencing and enclosures to ensure your pets don’t wander. One penalty unit applies for a breach of this requirement.
Cats don't have to roam outdoors to be happy. There are many ways you can keep your cat happily contained:
- Daily play sessions - set aside some time each day to play and help fulfil their strong hunting and chasing instincts. Give them their own dedicated area, toys and climbing equipment.
- Modify existing fencing to make it cat proof - give your cat access to the whole yard, and know they are safely contained to your property.
- A free standing outdoor enclosure with shade and shelter - give your cat the best of both worlds.