Behaviour change to improve dog-leashing on beaches with high conservation value

2 women and their dog in the foreground. Behind them there is a large sign that says ‘Welcome to Kingscliff Beach’. Behind the sign there are trees and a beach access path.

Since 2021, we have been working with Tweed Shire Council on a behaviour change strategy to reduce the threat of dogs off-leash to wildlife, people and other pets in on-leash beach areas of the Tweed community in Northern NSW.

We designed the program using a community-based social marketing approach that involved:

  • a desktop review of previous council research and interviews with council staff
  • analysis of the barriers and enablers to dog owners leashing their dogs
  • audience segmentation so we knew who to target and how
  • 2 workshops with community and key stakeholders to co-design the interventions
  • testing intervention ideas with the community through a series of focus groups.  

The program was informed by the research and co-design stages, and combined 3 key behaviour change interventions:  

  1. Communication: a social media campaign to promote messages about dog leashing and enforcement activity.
  1. Prompts: Community signage at the beach locations.
  1. Enforcement: Increased enforcement activity to shift social norms.  

A pilot program was rolled out in early 2022, and then more broadly in the community in October 2022.

We evaluated the program in early 2023 and the results showed the program had a significant positive impact on people’s leashing behaviour. The percentage of dogs observed on-leash in the four priority intervention locations increased by 30% (10% above the program target of 20% increase).

We are currently working with Tweed Council to develop the next stage of the Take the Lead, looking at the barriers and enablers for people using the existing designated off-leash areas.  

How can we help?
We're passionate about co-designing solutions with community and improving outcomes for people and animals. If you want to have a chat about how we can help in your community, get in touch.
Lucy Wilson
Projects and Change Consultant 
Steven Speldewinde
Director of Digital and Innovation (and CFO / COO)
steve@thesocialdeck.com0421 243 418


The Social Deck was engaged By Tweed Shire Council in 2021 to design, implement and evaluate Take the Lead, a behaviour change program to increase the number of dog owners using leads in on-leash beach areas by 20%.


Tweed Shire Council


Social research
Behaviour change research
Behaviour change programs
Social marketing

Sustainable Development Goal