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Issues with Dogs

Owning a dog is a big responsibility. Whether you’re a dog owner or have been affected by a neighbour’s dog barking or being aggressive, this page contains essential information about your rights and responsibilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, refer to the:

  • Dog Act 1976 (WA);
  • Dog Regulations 2013 (WA);
  • Your local government’s (council’s) by-laws.
  • You have a legal responsibility to keep your dog under control, either within a fenced area on your property or on a leash when in public. There are penalties for the breach.
  • You must ensure that your dog is not creating a public nuisance by barking excessively. You will be subject to a range of penalties.
  • As a person in charge of your dog in a public place, you are required to remove your dog’s droppings and adequately dispose of them. The penalties for this breach vary from one local government to another.
  • If your dog attacks a person or another animal, you will be held responsible even if you are not there at the time. There is a range of penalties. As the owner you may be imprisoned too.
  • It is your responsibility to register your dog. Not registering your dog may incur a penalty.
  • Your dog is required to wear a collar to which must be attached to a valid registration tag. This tag will be issued by your local government when you pay your registration fee. If your dog does not have a registration tag you may be fined.
  • Your dog must be microchipped.

Local government can limit the number of dogs (aged over three months). It can also limit the number of dogs of a specified breed that you can keep. Your local government by-laws will regulate if you are allowed to keep more than two to a maximum of six dogs (other than dangerous dogs). Typically you can have up to two dogs. You cannot have any pup of a dangerous dog (restricted breed) that is under three months of age. If you have dangerous dogs (declared or restricted breeds) you cannot have more than two dogs which are over three months of age.

Yes, the court can impose a range of fines. Contact your local government for information about the by-laws in your area.

Yes if your local government issues you:

  • A kennel licence, or
  • An exemption from your local government by-laws.

Yes. The police or an authorised person from a local government can impound any dog that is found wandering without a leash in any public place.

Yes, if your dog is:

  • In an official dog exercise area;
  • In a public place outside a town site or metropolitan region that is not a rural leashing area specified under the Act;
  • In or on a vehicle;
  • Being exhibited for show purposes;
  • Taking part in authorised obedience classes;
  • A droving or stock dog (in authorised circumstances);
  • A foxhound (in authorised circumstances); or
  • Being used for retrieving, duck hunting or other customary sporting purposes.

A dangerous dog is defined in the Act as:

  • A dangerous dog (declared); or
  • A dangerous dog (restricted breed); or
  • A commercial security dog.

Dog owners and every person responsible for control of a dog can be prosecuted if their dog chases or attacks any person or animal irrespective of whether physical injury is caused or not to the person or animal. The local government can ask for a court order that the dog be destroyed if it has attacked and caused injury or damage.

  • A dog attack can result in a range of fines
  • There are fines or imprisonment for setting or urging a dog to chase or attack a person or animal
  • It is a criminal offence if you are responsible for a dangerous dog and it attacks someone in a way that endangers their life or kills them
  • A person who has been attacked by a dog can take private legal action for any injury or damage they have suffered, including medical costs, veterinarian bills and damage to clothing and so on.

There may be a defence. Get legal advice about whether you have a defence.

Next Steps

Your local council or shire may have a template letter for complaining about a nuisance or dangerous dog.

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries have a guide to Responsible Dog Ownership.

Informing Western Australia since 1963

Mission: To connect people with information and services so they can make independent and informed decisions.

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