Mitchell Shire dog owners are being reminded to keep their dogs on leashes to prevent dog attacks or wandering pets.

AN increase in the number of dog attacks and reported wandering dogs has sparked Mitchell Shire Council to remind pet owners to keep their dogs on a leash.

The pet owners are being urged to keep their dogs on a leash or controlled by voice command to ensure the pets aren’t unattended in public places.

To help keep dogs happy at home and discourage them from escaping, council is recommending pet owners do the following; ensure they have a suitable yard and they provide plenty of stimulation and attention for the dog; provide adequate exercise by taking dogs on regular walks; alleviate boredom by providing toys; and reinforce fences where dogs may escape.

Children should always walk their dog with the supervision of an adult, as children may not have the ability to restrain an over-excited or anxious dog.

To further assist dog owners to manage their dogs’ behaviour, they can partake in obedience training so owners can learn to handle their dogs in various situations.

Obedience training is also a good way to help settle anxious dogs into a routine of being comfortable around other people and dogs.

It is important to remember dogs that normally behave well, can be unpredictable at times, and people shouldn’t let their dogs approach other dogs in case they aren’t as comfortable.

Pet owners who live on rural or semi-rural property should also remember that friendly pets can still attack livestock.

Mitchell Shire Mayor David Lowe said everyone should feel safe in their own properties and when they were walking around the community.

“People’s routines have changed with COVID-19 restrictions and we all need to consider what that means for our animals, especially in public places,” he said.

“No-one wants to face a neighbour who has been physically hurt or emotionally traumatised after they, or their much-loved pet, has been attacked by your dog. Please take responsibility for your pets.”

Penalties apply for people who own dogs involved in attacks, including fines, pound fees, and in some cases a conviction through the courts.

Dogs can also be declared dangerous resulting in being euthanised or being kept at a pound or shelter while the penalty process is underway.

For more information on reporting wandering dogs or an attack, visit www.mithcellshire.vic.gov.au/services/animals, and to report an attack after hours call 5734 6200.