Dog attack prevention on livestock

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Dog attacks on livestock can be reduced if livestock owners take precautions and notify others after an attack.

View the dog attack prevention - livestock information sheet(PDF, 106KB).

Definition of a Dog Attack

The Dog Act 1976 interprets an “attack” to be

  • aggressively rushing at or harassing any person or animal; or
  • biting, or otherwise causing physical injury to, a person or animal; or
  • tearing clothing on, or otherwise causing damage to the property of, the person attacked; or
  • attempting to attack, or behaving in such a manner toward a person as would cause a reasonable person to fear injury.

Prevention

Don’t encourage dogs to visit. Many livestock owners ignore or even encourage dogs wandering onto their property. They may appear harmless, but the dogs could return when no one is home or at night. Dogs other than resident dogs should not be tolerated if they are wandering, even if they belong to a neighbour.

Don’t allow dogs to play with livestock. During play dogs learn the hunting skills for later attacks. Many farmers have had to destroy their own or a neighbour’s dog that they thought was harmless.

Be ready at all times. You cannot predict when and where dogs will attack. Timing depends on whether dogs are unrestrained at night or released when their owners get up.

Seasonally, most attacks occur between March and October, possibly because dogs are less active in the warmer weather or because there are more sheep in the area. Attacks occur in all weathers, but appear to increase after a change from warmer to cooler temperatures and with the onset of rain.