Dogs In Public Spaces

Dogs make wonderful companions, family members and workers with approximately 6,000+ domestic dogs living in Bellingen Shire.

Putting your dog on a lead in public spaces ensures you’re always in control and attentive to your dog including their waste. 

There are three designated off-leash (off lead) dog exercise areas in the Bellingen Shire. Use the off-leash map below, or download a pdf version.

Dorrigo:  Polocrosse fields in Ash Street

Bellingen:  Jarrett Park west of Lavenders Bridge

Urunga:  The beach south of the river mouth to the four wheel drive access point known as sand mines



There is a $330 fine for not leashing outside of designated off-leash areas.

An off-leash dog that rushes, harasses or chases a person or animal can attract a much heftier fine. See more information about responsibilities and penalties.

With reported dog attacks on the rise, you can help ‘lead the way’ to community safety, peace of mind and harmony for all people and creatures.  


Why does dog leashing matter?

Leashing is good dog community care. With dog owners generally spending more time in nature than non-dog owners, many dog owners conscientiously leash their dogs in public spaces and understand the potential impacts of free-roaming dogs.

Things to consider

  1. Even if your off-leash dog is friendly, other on-leash dogs can be more protective or aggressive when approached by off-leash dogs.
  2. Whether your dog is legally on or off-leash, before approaching an unfamiliar dog look for warning signs.
  3. In unexpected or threatening situations, normally predictable dogs can act out of character on canine instinct, especially in highly stimulating environments.
  4. Dog walking in natural habitat can reduce the number of birds by 41% and the types of birds by 35%.
  5. Off-leash dogs cause breeding shorebirds to leave their nests for longer than on-leash dogs so keeping dogs out of sand dunes helps (endangered) shorebirds to successfully raise their chicks.
  6. Dogs often out-number threatened wildlife. For example, there are approximately 100 dogs to every koala across 25% of the shire, including where koalas move between fragmented habitat close to areas regularly frequented by numerous domestic dogs.


Your Responsibilities

The law requires you to ensure the following conditions are met when your dog is in a public place. Fines apply for breaches.

  • Your dog must be under the effective control of a competent person by means of an adequate chain or leash. The exceptions to this are: dogs exhibited at a show or engaging in obedience or agility trials or a dog secured in a cage or in an approved off-leash area;

  • If your dog is being exercised in an approved off-leash area it must always be under effective control of a competent person;

  • You are not permitted to walk more than 4 dogs at any one time in an on-leash or an off-leash area;

  • Greyhounds must be muzzled at all times when in a public place, except if the greyhound has successfully completed an approved greyhound retraining program and the greyhound wears an approved collar when it is in a public place;

  • If your dog defecates in a public place it is an offence not to remove the faeces; and

  • Dogs are prohibited in children's play areas, food preparation / indoor consumption areas, recreation areas, public bathing areas, school grounds, child care centres, shopping areas and wildlife protection areas.