Walking dogs off leash

Off-leash areas

Dogs in public places must be on a leash, except in designated off-leash areas. Dogs off leash except during sporting events, also covers team training sessions. Dogs must also be under effective control at all times and should not be left unattended.

For more information, view the Dog and Cat Control Order 2019(DOCX, 4MB) / Dog and Cat Control Order 2019(PDF, 657KB)

Prohibited areas

To protect the shire’s sensitive native environment, dogs are prohibited in these sensitive areas.

Area Address
Mount Gisborne Reserve(PDF, 505KB) 198 Mount Gisborne Road, Gisborne
Malmsbury Common(PDF, 382KB) 96 Mollison Street, Malmsbury
Gisborne Marshlands(PDF, 704KB)  

Webb Crescent (next to Gisborne Steam Park)

Woodend Grassland(PDF, 580KB) 1-27 Forest Street, Woodend

Hanging Rock Reserve(PDF, 580KB)

(Dogs are allowed on-leash in some areas, including the picnic/grassed area in front of cafe and playground, and the East Paddock. Dogs are not permitted to ascend the Rock)

South Rock Road, Woodend

What is effective control?

Dogs in public places must be on a leash (except in designated off-leash areas), and must also be under effective control at all times and should not be left unattended. 

On-leash areas

  • Dogs must be restrained using a leash, chain or cord attached to an appropriately fitted collar, harness, or halter, all of which must be in good condition.
  • A current Council registration tag must be worn by the dog.
  • Dogs must not be allowed to harass, interfere with, or behave in an anti-social manner toward another person or animal.
  • Dogs must not be left unattended (e.g. temporarily tethered in a public place). 

Off-leash areas

  • The owner / person in control must carry a leash, chain or cord that is in good condition and is able to be placed on the dog when necessary.
  • Dogs must wear an appropriately fitted collar, harness, or halter with a current Council registration tag attached.
  • The owner / person in control must actively supervise the dog and maintain a clear and unobstructed view of the dog at all times.
  • The dog remains within 50 metres of the owner / person in control so that it is in visual and audible range to allow for effective recall at any time.
  • Dogs must respond to recall commands and return to the owner / person in charge upon verbal command or hand signal.
  • Dogs must not be allowed to harass, intimidate, worry, or behave anti-socially toward another person or animal.
  • Dogs that attack or behave aggressively toward another person or animal must be immediately placed on a leash and removed from the off leash area.
  • Dogs must be restrained by leash when leaving the designated off leash area.  
  • Signage advising "Dogs off leash except during sporting events" means dogs must be on leash and not on sporting grounds during both sporting events and/or team training sessions.

Temporary tethering outside a shop, café or school

A dog is not under effective control when it is left tied up on its own outside a shop, café, school or other facility, even if it’s only for a very short period of time. Besides it not being allowed under the Dog and Cat Control Order 2019, below are a few reasons why it is not a good idea to leave a dog tethered in a public place

  • A normally friendly dog can be unpredictable and may lead to biting if the dog experiences stress or fear. That is why it is important for a person to be with their dog in public places where they are more likely to experience a variety or stimulus that can become overwhelming and stressful for the dog.
  • Unfortunately, Local Laws Officers attend many reports for dog bites on other animals and people. In most instances owners said their dogs had never bitten before and they had no reason to believe their dog would bite. Past behaviour is not always a reliable indicator for predicting future behaviour.
  • Our officers have investigated dog bite cases that involved dogs tethered in public places (outside shops/cafes) resulting in injuries to passers-by.
  • We need to ensure safe access and usability for people of all ages and abilities in public places, which is impacted by dogs tethered on footpaths and near entrances to shops, schools, and cafes.
  • Dogs left unattended may be exposed to theft or injury.  

The best way to keep your dog and other people safe is to ensure you don’t leave your dog unattended in a public place.

On and off-leash areas background and consultation

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.

For more information about the consultation process, recommendations and Council decisions, see Paws for Thought consultation