Australian laws prevent you carrying any sort of weapon or personal self defence product. After the event, you will get no help from the police and little more from your local council. You will end up with a badly wounded pet, the associated vet bills and – if the irresponsible dog owner is identified – the prospect of a court case which may well fail due to lack of evidence.

All you can really do to prevent your pet being attacked in public places is to avoid going to them

Being a responsible dog owner with a good-natured pet counts for nothing because you have no control over inconsiderate owners or their anti-social animals that will be sharing the beach, park or dog park with you.

The only course of action you have is to minimise the chance of an attack happening

  • Avoid public beaches
  • Avoid dog parks
  • Avoid public parks

It’s especially hazardous to walk your dog very early in the morning or late at night in local parks and on public beaches. Big, aggressive dogs are often let off leash at these times, irresponsible owners presumably think that no one else will be around. It’s also doubtful that you will have any witnesses if an attack occurs.

When a large, powerful dog goes in for the kill, not much will stop it in its tracks short of a bullet. Unfortunately, the most problematic breeds are incredibly strong, so trying to release their jaws when they take hold is no easy task.

In South Australia (and Australia) it’s illegal to defend yourself or your pet.

Adelaide Dog Attack Register - Popular Dog Attack Deterrents Overseas

Dog attack deterrents popular overseas, but illegal in South Australia

In the US, dog owners are allowed to purchase and carry Halt Dog Repellent Spray, which has been used by the US Postal Service since the ’60’s, but it’s prohibited in Australia. The spray products available here like Spray Shield are citronella-based, designed for mildly intimidating dogs. Reviews seem to dismiss its effectiveness against large, aggressive animals.

The Dangerous Articles and Prohibited Weapons Act 2000 (page 7 Schedule 1) prohibits the use of:

Self-protecting spray
6. A device or instrument designed or adapted as a weapon to emit or discharge an offensive, noxious or irritant liquid, powder, gas or chemical that is capable of immobilising, incapacitating or injuring another person either temporarily or permanently.

Self-protection device
7. A hand held device or instrument designed or adapted to emit or discharge—
(a) an electric current; or
(b) sound waves; or
(c) any electromagnetic energy, that is capable of immobilising, incapacitating or injuring another person either temporarily or permanently.

If you’ve witnessed your pet being savaged by a large, out of control dog there’s a temptation to carry a heavy, blunt weapon as a deterrent; however this is not recommended. Research (page 8) has identified that irresponsible owners that allow their aggressive pets off leash in public places often have a similar temperament to their animals and do not take kindly to their dog being beaten, even if it is trying to kill yours.

As the law stands currently in South Australia, you have:

  • NO PROTECTION from the police
  • NO PROTECTION from your local council
  • No legal way to defend yourself or your pet
  • No guarantee of a successful prosecution, even in cases where the irresponsible owner is identified

The only deterrent currently available in South Australia is risk minimisation

If I have missed anything or made any errors, please let me know and leave comments below.

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Showing 13 comments
  • Hindsight

    This did not help at all, is SprayShield legal or not?

    • Alan Timms

      I believe the only spray deterrents legal in Australia are citronella ones … which would be pretty useless. All pepper sprays are illegal.

      • Ranger from Vic

        I have used spray shield by pet safe a few times now and can say it works with aggressive dogs that bail you up or bark and snarl trying to make you run…wouldn’t want to try my luck with a dog that is 100% intent on causing harm straight away but would if that’s all I had.

  • Ads

    Small fire extinguisher

    • Lily

      seems too heavy to carry for a walk?

  • Zac

    Cyan pepper water mixture in a small spray bottle is what I carry now. I was recently attacked by a pitbull. No Harness or anything I could grab a hold of and it ran at my staffy. Luckily my dog only took a couple of bites before my dog grabbed the pittie head from behind and pinned it down until I could get help. My dog and me only got a few puncture wounds each, but was not a great experience obviously. Also at night I have a military grade light on my to be able to blind (even for a second) a attacking dog

    • Lily

      Where can you buy that military grade light? does it work during the day? And that pepper spray, it is home made? does it work and can you please share your recipe? Thanks!

  • Lily

    It’s very unfair that you can’t protect yourself against dog attacks. Especially seniors who can not fight dogs. it’s coming to the point that do you want to illegally carry a weapon or being attacked.

  • jed

    carry a baton, hide it, and if you need it who cares, id rather be in trouble for self protection than be a victim, stand and fight for your god damn australian rights

  • Sandi Adam

    I witnessed a dog attack last night around 7pm in Sturt area. That would have been my Maltese X Shitzu!! Luckily my daughter needed a lift to shops so I put off my daily walk at sunset to drive her to the shops. As we pulled away from driveway there was a tan coloured red-nosed pit bull walking across the road. As we passed the street we heard screaming, I u-turned and drove back to be confronted with pit bull attacking a woman’s dog, similar breed to mine. I could not believe what I witnessed. I just stopped frozen to the spot watching 3 people trying to stop the pit bull from biting the dog more. It was terrifying knowing that would have been my dog. To witness a pit bull being stabbed to stop him killing the other dog. OMG true horror. Yet the man who stabbed this pit bull had done so in a gentle manner so as to Stop this attack… He made sure the pit bull was cared for until the council animal protection people came and collected the dog. All I can say there is no way I can walk my own dog now without a weapon to stop an attack? Pepper Spray sounds good but does it work?

  • Steve

    What about the use of a cattle prod?

  • Ranger Vic

    Arming yourself just like everything with education is always a good start. Knowing what you can make, carry and use is important.
    things that can cause harm to someone is a no no.
    citronella and water is effective 90% of the time.
    ultra sonic training devices work 75% of the time
    treats can work liver treats
    reducing your alpha dominance can help
    communicating with the dog owner personally or through council can help, be prepared to back your story up. dont be scared, if you dont do something the little girl walking her little toy dog could be hurt because you let it go.

  • Ranger from Vic

    dog defence is hard….if you are stuck and it attacks.
    Avoid the area
    Report the dog and area
    Prepare yourself with education and physical things that are legal.

    target eyes and deep in ears with fingers and thumbs
    if its getting really bad and it just wont let up biting you. put your fingers and arm as far as you can down its throat whilst attacking its eyes.
    it is one of those things, avoid, report and prepare…..if it hits the fan, so to speak “fight for your life”…..

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