Paws For Thought


The Paws for Thought consultation into the review of dog on-and-off leash areas and the potential introduction of a cat curfew in the shire was held in late 2018.

Almost 700 community members completed an online survey with an extensive amount of comments being provided, and nearly 100 people provided comment on the interactive mapping tool that identified proposed dog off-leash areas. Our industry partners also provided feedback via a survey, written submissions were received, and numerous comments posted on Council’s social media. A community forum was held in Woodend where people were able to provide feedback face-to-face.

We were thrilled with the amount of feedback received on the proposed options and would like to sincerely thank the community for their input.

Previously, in the Macedon Ranges there were very limited restrictions on dog walking in public places. 

An action in Council’s 2017-2021 Domestic Animal Management Plan was to investigate the introduction of dog on and off-leash areas in the shire. These designated areas have been introduced by an Order made under the Domestic Animals Act 1994. Most metropolitan, and many regional and peri-urban councils have a similar Order in place. 

Some of themes and areas of concern identified as part of the consultation included:

  • Public nuisance: dogs can adversely affect some people’s enjoyment of public areas, e.g. some people do not like dogs, may be fearful of dogs and may not want dogs approaching them.
  • Public risk: the risk of dogs attacking other dogs and people.
  • Clarity for users of public spaces shared by people and dogs.
  • Protection of environmental values: adverse impacts on flora/fauna are reduced when dogs are walked on leash. Some highly sensitive areas require greater protection through the proposed dog prohibition. 

Dogs and cats are not permitted on private property without the permission of the owner or occupier of the private property.

Currently there are no restrictions on cats wandering at large and Council provides cat traps for residents who are concerned about feral or stray cats on their property. 

An action in Council’s 2017-2021 Domestic Animal Management Plan was to investigate the feasibility of introducing a cat curfew. This followed strong support for a cat curfew in previous consultations conducted in 2014 and 2017, including:

  • Protection of wildlife: cats have a natural instinct to hunt.
  • Neighbours amenity: many people do not like cats going to the toilet in their gardens, causing their dogs to bark or placing their own pets at risk. 
  • To assist with the management of feral and stray cats: a curfew will make it easier to identify owned cats and potentially reduce unwanted litters.
  • Cat welfare: less risk of injury, death or becoming lost.

Council adopted the recommendations contained in the Dog on and Off Leash and Cat Curfew Review at the Ordinary Council Meeting in March 2019. For more information, download the report and attachments:

Following this, the official Dog and Cat Order 2019 - Domestic Animals Act 1994 (incorporating Schedules 1 and 2) was endorsed by Council on 27 November 2019. For more information, view the 27 November 2019 - Ordinary Council Meeting Agenda and Minutes

This order came into effect on 1 January 2020, introducing designated on-and-off leash areas

As of 1 July 2020 the order will introduce a sunset to sunrise cat curfew. Note: the Order cannot require cats to be kept indoors, it can only require confinement to the premises.