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Responsible dog ownership

Responsible dog ownership is an important part of maintaining a happy, healthy dog and avoiding dog-related disputes with your neighbours. Part of being a responsible dog owner is complying with Calgary’s bylaws related to dogs.

The City of Calgary's Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw regulates animals in our city. For a brief overview of the bylaw, refer to Dogs and the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw. Please refer to the actual bylaw for more detailed information. Original copies of the bylaw are available at the City Clerk's office.

But there is more to being a responsible dog owner than just complying with the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw.

We strive to ensure that dogs, their owners and neighbours live together in safety and harmony. To achieve this, we advocate for responsible dog ownership and encourages dog owners to adhere to the five principles of responsible dog ownership.

Principle #1: Provide a licence and permanent identification for your dog

All dogs over three months of age residing in Calgary must be licensed with The City of Calgary.  Dogs must wear their licence tag whenever they are off their owner’s property. 

In addition to a licence, it is important that dogs have permanent identification in the event that they get lost and lose their licence tags. A tattoo is one form of permanent identification, but it can smear or fade over time and become difficult to read. The preferred method of permanent identification is a microchip that can be scanned for owner information if the dog is lost.

Owners must remember to update their contact information with The City and their microchip provider when they move or change phone numbers so that their information remains current.

Principle #2: Spay or neuter your dog

Responsible dog owners ensure their dogs are spayed or neutered. Not only does spay/neuter surgery prevent dog overpopulation, it also makes for happier pets.

The benefits of spaying/neutering include:

  • It eliminates crying, howling, nervous pacing and frantic attempts to get out and find a mate.
  • Neutering reduces or eliminates inappropriate spraying.
  • Spaying eliminates female heat cycles and bloody discharge.
  • Spay/neuter surgery reduces or eliminates disease, infection and certain cancers of the reproductive system.
  • With spay/ neuter surgery, pets enjoy better health and owners often notice their pets have improved dispositions.

Principle #3: Provide training, socialization, proper diet and medical care for your dog

Basic obedience training is the first step to a well socialized dog. All dogs require daily care, feeding, fresh water and exercise. Regular grooming, yearly check-ups and a vaccination schedule recommended by a veterinarian are important responsibilities that maintain the health of your pets.

Principle #4: Don’t allow your dog to become a threat or nuisance

Barking dogs

Barking is instinctive to dogs, but dog owners must ensure barking does not become a nuisance to neighbours. Dogs bark to communicate with other dogs, to alert their owners of possible danger, to protect their property, and out of boredom. Proper training, supervision and adequate exercise and stimulation will help to prevent problem barking.

Dogs on pathways

All of Calgary’s pathways are on leash areas for dogs, even in off leash areas. Both owners and their dog must remain on the right-hand side of the pathway at all times, unless moving around other pathway users. Owners must ensure that their dog does not interfere with or obstruct any pathway user.

Principle #5: Procure your dog ethically and from a credible source

Having a dog means a commitment for the lifetime of that dog.  Ask yourself if this is the right time to bring a companion animal into your family.  Do your research on your potential dog’s physical needs and what to expect for food, care and medical costs.  Be aware of the type of training, socialization and exercise that will be needed and be sure that you are able to provide all of these things for the lifetime of your dog.  Once an informed decision is made, it is imperative that you procure your dog from a rescue organization or breeder that is both credible and humane.