Pet behaviour and training

Dog training

Most behavioural issues with animals can be managed with adequate training and socialisation.

Training is one of the basic pillars of enjoyable pet ownership and care. Ensuring your dog is properly socialised will greatly reduce the chances of it developing behavioural issues with other animals and people, in turn reduce the likelihood of an attack incident happening. You can refer to RSPCA Dog Behaviour & Training Handbook for more information or seek the professional help of a dog trainer or your vet if you need help training your dog.

Puppy School

From the age of 8-16 weeks your dog is in a critical developmental period.

By beginning your dog’s training during this early developmental stage you are setting them up with right tools to navigate their way through meeting new people, meeting other dogs, new surfaces, different noises and more.

Obedience Training

Approved Obedience Training Organisations

Approved obedience training organisations have an assessment program that assesses a dog in the following skills:

  • heeling or walking with handler
  • sociability with other dogs
  • staying on command (known as the stay test)
  • coming to handler on command (known as a recall test)
  • absence of aggression towards humans or other animals.

Approved organisations have qualified obedience trainers and can provide an obedience assessment certificate.

Once your dog has successfully completed obedience training from an approved organisation, you can notify council to reduce your registration fees.

For more information on approved obedience training organisations visit the Agriculture Victoria website.


Dog Training Establishments

Not all Dog Training Establishments are 'Approved Obedience Training Organisations' but can still be very helpful in assisting owners with general obedience training.

View a full list of dog training establihsments in the Yarra Ranges.


Picking your pet

Thousands of animals are surrendered every year in Victoria. That is why it’s very important to consider what type and breed of animal is the best fit for you and your family before buying or adopting one. When choosing a new pet it is very important to understand that different breeds have differing needs and characteristics.

Prior to purchasing new family pet, we encourage residents to research and understand the characterises of the breed, making sure it fits in with your lifestyle.

Introducing a new dog or cat to your home and making the settling in period as smooth and stress-free as possible is vital to ensuring a happy pet.

Animal Aid has some tips and tricks available on their website to help when you bring your new cat or new dog home.

Kids and Pets

It is very important to teach your child how to behave around animals  to ensure they have a safe and loving relationship with your pet.

Young children who are bitten by dogs most often know the dog - it's either their own, a friend's or a neighbour's dog. More often than not, these bites occur in and around their own homes. It is vitally important to ensure dogs and young children are supervised at all times.

Key points that all children should be taught when introduced to dogs:

  • Never approach a dog without permission from the owner.
  • Don't approach dogs that are sleeping or eating.
  • Always approach a dog calmly without squealing and jumping.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Always approach a dog slowly with the back of the hand extended allowing the dog to sniff before petting.
  • Pat the dog gently on the chest, shoulder or under the chin.
  • Never reach for a dogs face.
  • Stand very still like a fence post if approached by a strange dog.

For more information about responsible pet ownership for children, visit the Agriculture Victoria website.

Pet Behaviour in Public Places

Our dogs are members of the family, so most of us enjoy taking them out in public, whether it’s for a walk in the park or to a local café. It is an owner’s responsibility to ensure their dog is socialised to a point where it feels comfortable and safe, ensuring the safety of their dog and other people. If your dog is (or has in the past) exhibiting signs of stress or fear towards

either other animals or people, you need to ensure that it is under effective control at all times. While out in public it is important to be aware of not only your own dog’s behaviour and body language but also other dogs you may come on contact with.

By being able to pick up on such signs it will help you avoid possible conflict situations between your dog and other dogs and/or people. Behaviours to look out for that indicate your dog may be stressed, fearful of the environment or situation is listed below.

Signs of stress and anxiety

Signs of stress and anxiety include:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Excessive shedding
  • Trembling
  • Quiet growling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Yawning
  • Pacing
  • Destructive behaviour
  • Hiding
  • Lip licking
  • Showing whites of the eye
  • Backing away
  • Not eating treats or food when previously would
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Vocalisations (eg. whining)
  • Obsessive behaviour (eg. tail spinning, tail biting)

Signs of fear

Signs of fear include:

  • Distance seeking behaviour (requesting more space)
  • Tongue flicking/licking
  • Lip lift
  • Turning away/avoiding eye contact
  • Rolling on back (appeasement)
  • Urinating
  • Crouching down
  • Tail tucked under
  • Paw lifted
  • Showing whites of the eye
  • Hiding
  • Ears down
  • Trembling

Signs of aggression

It is important to understand that if pushed beyond its comfort levels, fear can also lead to aggression in a dog.

Signs of aggression include:

  • Stiff body posture
  • Direct visual contact
  • Forward or defensive posture
  • Erect tail
  • Retraction of lips/snarling
  • Hair erect on back of neck
  • Barking or lunging