Dog on leash and off leash etiquette

two dogs on leash

It's important for dog owners to practice safe responsible on leash and off leash etiquette when out with their dog.

How you should approach a dog depends on each situation. See some examples of situations below and what is best practice.

Your dog is off-leash and sees an on-leash dog

  1. Do not let your dog approach the on-leash dog
  2. Call your dog away using appropriate recall

Even if both dogs are friendly this situation is an unequal meeting and not fair for the on-leash dog. Be considerate of the reasons why the other dog may be on-leash. Give the dog space and move on if possible.


Both dogs on-leash

  1. Ask permission if you can approach the other dog first and wait for an answer.
  2. Be cautious even if the answer is ‘yes’ to approach.

Be aware that being on-leash can lead to extra tension. If the answer is no, give the dog space and move on.

Both dogs off-leash

  1. Ask permission if your dogs can meet each other.
  2. Be cautious even if the answer is ‘yes’ and approach with caution.

Be aware and careful around other influences that could cause tension, such as toys or balls. Make sure your dog is under effective control and recall and in a designated off-leash area.

Other things to remember

Dogs may be on a leash for various reasons such as training, reactive behaviour, nervousness or health reasons.

Your dog should only be off-leash in a dedicated off-leash area and should be under effective control and recall.

Respect how both the dog and owner may feel in any situation.

Things can escalate very quickly, so ensuring you practice responsible on/off leash dog etiquette will reduce the likelihood of an incident occurring. 

Off-leash dog parks/areas

In Maroondah, there are two fenced off-leash dog parks, in Ringwood North and Croydon. There are also many off-leash areas within other parks and reserves.

Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times in a public place, except in leash-free areas. See more abut off-leash dog park etiquette.

See off-leash dog parks/areas