Dog attacks: 100% preventable

Each year in Cairns, Council receives more than 720* reports of dog attacks.

  • 120 attacks are on people
  • 250 involve another dog being injured
  • 350 involve a dog rushing at someone causing them fear

Dog attacks are not only frightening for all involved, but often result in serious injury to people. Dog attacks on other animals can also cause serious injury and in some cases result in the death of the animal.

If you are the owner of a dog, you are responsible for their actions.

* These figures reflect the number of reports to Council. Many dog attacks go unreported, so the incidence of dog attacks could be much higher

My dog would never do that

Most dog owners believe their dog would never hurt anyone.

But like people, dogs can become aggressive if they feel threatened by the behaviour of other people or animals or are spooked by loud noises or unexpected actions.

Dog attacks are more likely to happen when dogs are roaming - either because they have escaped from their yard or they are allowed to run free when going for a walk.

You can help prevent dog attacks by:

  • Ensuring your dog stays at home
  • Walking your dog on a lead whenever your are out in public
  • Having effective control of your dog in public, or when using dog-off leash areas or shared public spaces.
  • Attending dog obedience or dog behaviour classes

Secure your dog at home

Most dog attacks happen when dogs escape from their home and roam through the community without supervision.

Dog owners are responsible for ensuring their dog or dogs remain in their yard at all times and that their pet doesn't cause distress or injury by "rushing" at people or attacking them through your fence.

Have a tough fence

Key to keeping your dog at home is having a strong fence with a secure gate. Fences and enclosures need to be:

  • High enough that your dog can't jump over it
  • Low enough that your dog can't crawl under it
  • Strong enough that your dog can't push it over
  • Hole proof so your dog can't escape through it
  • Designed so your dog can't attack people through it

Tips to keep your dog at home

Dogs are more likely to escape their yard if they are bored or looking to mate - this can happen even if you are at home. They can also be anxious when left alone.

Here are some simple steps you can take to keep your dog at home.


  • Give your dog some dog toys or household items to keep them entertained
  • Play with and exercise your dog regularly
  • Socialise your dog by organising a "doggy play date", utilising Council's dog off-leash areas, or attending dog behaviour or obedience classes
  • Ensure your pet has enough food and water or treats to get through the day

Watch a short video from Doctor Chris Brown including tips on keeping your dog entertained


When you are away from home:

  • Leave the radio or tv on tuned to a speaking channel
  • Leave an old shoe or piece of clothing that has your scent on it
  • Let your pooch into a section of your home that has your smell


  • Desex your dog (it also makes your dog rego cheaper)
  • Be aware when your dog is on heat and take additional precautions

Walk your dog on a lead

It's compulsory to walk your dog on a lead whenever you are outside your own property. This includes taking your dog to and from a vehicle or walking to and from a dog off-leash area.

Unfortunately, many people let their dog off its leash when out in public, mistakenly thinking their dog will stay by their side.

Having your dog on a lead will stop your pet running away if it becomes scared, spooked or anxious, or just wants to play with other dogs it encounters on your walk.

Effective control

Even if your dog is "well behaved" it can act out of character if it feels threatened, scared, over excited or is "on heat". Ensuring your dog is under effective control means you can react immediately if your dog starts to be aggressive or display threatening behaviour.

This means:

  • Having your dog on a lead when out in public
  • Having your dog under voice control or visual command at all times, even if it is on a leash or in a dog off-leash area
  • Having a leash at hand ready to secure your dog in dog off-leash areas
  • Having a secure fence suitable for the type of dog you have
  • Taking steps to prevent your dog escaping its yard
Last updated: 16 June 2020