Cats and dogs

The department is responsible for administering the Cat Act 2011 (the Cat Act) and the Dog Act 1976 (the Dog Act). The acts and associated regulations apply throughout Western Australia.

Cats

The Cat Act requires the identification, registration and sterilisation of domestic cats, and gives local governments the power to administer and enforce the legislation. The legislation, which took full effect in November 2013, provides for better management of the unwanted impacts of cats on the community and the environment, and encourages responsible cat ownership. Local governments enforce and administer the Dog Act and the Cat Act. Members of the public with queries about registration, microchipping, sterilisation, dangerous dogs and barking dogs should contact their local government.

The department is responsible for ensuring that the Cat Act is up to date and fit for purpose. The Cat Act requires the identification, registration and sterilisation of domestic cats, and gives local governments the power to administer and enforce the legislation.

Local laws

Local governments enact local laws and are responsible for enforcing the Cat Act. Local laws enacted by a local government apply only to the area administered by that local government and are not statewide laws. Information about local laws relating to cats can be obtained from the relevant local government along with information about microchipping, sterilisation, registration and stray cats.

Dogs

The Dog Act contains a range of measures to improve community safety, encourage responsible dog ownership, enable nuisance behaviour to be more effectively dealt with and to recognise assistance dogs.  Recent amendments to the Dog Act require that by 1 November 2015 all dogs must be microchipped. The Dog Act recognises assistance dogs that are commonly used by people with a disability. The department has responsibility for approving assistance dogs that have not been trained by a recognised organisation. The department also approves applications to become an independent Public Access Test Assessor. 

The legal rights and responsibilities of dog owners are outlined in the Dog Act, the Dog Regulations 2013 and in local government local laws Collectively, these laws provide for the registration, ownership and control of dogs in Western Australia.

Pensioner dog registration fees and refunds for sterilisations
Registration period
Fee (sterilised)
Fee (unsterilised)
Refund (year 1)
Refund (year 2)
Refund (year 3)
 1 year
 $10.00
 $25.00  $15.00  Not applicable
 Not applicable
 3 year  $21.25  $60.00  $38.75  $25.83  $12.92
 Lifetime  $50.00  $125.00
 $75.00  $50.00  $25.00

Standard registration fees and refunds
Registration period
Fee (sterilised)
Fee (unsterilised)
Refund (year 1)
Refund (year 2)
Refund (year 3)
 1 year
 $20.00
 $50.00  $30.00  Not applicable
 Not applicable
 3 year  $42.50  $120.00  $77.5  $51.67  $25.83
 Lifetime  $100.00  $250.00
 $150.00  $100.00  $50.00

Assistance dogs

People with assistance dogs trained by accredited organisations are automatically granted public access rights under the Dog Act 1976 regulations. Public access rights for other assistance dogs may be granted on application to the department. The applicant must be able to demonstrate that there is a need for an assistance dog and that the dog meets the specified training criteria.

Greyhounds

In WA, racing greyhounds are registered with Racing and Wagering Western Australia.  

When greyhounds are retired from racing, they are deregistered and can be adopted as pets through the Greyhounds as Pets program, or through other animal rescue and adoption organisations.

Nuisance barking dogs

All dogs bark but some barking dogs become a nuisance. Excessive barking is one of the most disruptive neighbourhood issues and requires immediate attention.

Why do dogs bark?

It is important to try and determine why your dog is barking. Dogs may bark because they are:

  • hungry or thirsty
  • cold, hot or uncomfortable
  • sick or injured
  • bored or seeking attention
  • anxious or frightened
  • threatened or feeling protective about their territory.

Check to see if your dog:

  • has access to clean fresh water and adequate shelter
  • has daily exercise and is not sick or injured
  • is provided with bones or other chewing treats.

Boredom

Excessive barking is more common with some breeds than others.

Some breeds – such as cattle dogs, kelpies, border collies and German shepherds – were originally bred to work on farms and may have difficulty living in a suburban backyard or indoors.

You should carefully select a breed that is suitable for your lifestyle. Long walks on a lead may not be enough to keep some dogs occupied. They may become barkers due to boredom or frustration.

To help ensure that your dog does not become bored, make sure it has plenty to do when left alone. For example:

  • If your dog likes water, place water in a child’s pool or garden pool so the dog can play in it.
  • Provide a variety of toys for your dog to chew or play with.
  • Give your dog a bone when you leave the house, as this will teach your dog to associate your absence with a positive reaction.
  • Leave a radio or television playing where the dog can hear, so that it will feel that the property is occupied.

Attention seeking behaviour

Dogs are social animals and they may resort to inappropriate behaviour as a means of seeking attention. Ensure that you spend time each day communicating and playing with your dog. If possible, allow the dog to rest beside you when you are present in the home.

Protecting property

Many dogs will bark if a person or animal is near their territory. To help prevent your dog barking at things it can see beyond the fence, you may like to:

  • cover the fence or gate in a way that obstructs the dog’s vision or
  • prevent the dog from having access to areas on the premises where the dog tends to see things and bark at them.

If your dog is a nuisance barker

There is no quick fix or easy solution to problem barking. Don’t hit or yell at the dog as this may cause other behaviour problems. Instead:

  • Consult your local vet, dog obedience club or animal behaviour specialist for advice on how to approach the situation.
  • Consider specific treatment or behaviour training if your dog has behaviour problems such as separation anxiety.

Living near a dog that barks excessively

Dog owners are often not aware of their dog’s barking, since it usually happens when the owner is not on the property.

  • Firstly, the owner should be approached directly and the problem explained to them. It may help to provide them with times that the dog is barking.
  • Secondly, if you neighbours are unapproachable or do not agree with your assessment, a formal complaint should be made to the rangers at your local government.

What rangers do you make a complaint

Local governments are responsible for enforcing the nuisance provisions of the Dog Act 1976 and each local government may take a different approach to dealing with complaints.

In the first instance, rangers need to be satisfied that a nuisance is being created.

They can do this by talking to neighbours, observing behaviour, using a count collar or asking you to keep records.

If the barking continues

If the barking continues and further complaints are lodged, the ranger may issue a noise abatement notice which requires the owner to take action to abate the noise. The notice has effect for six months.

If the owner does not comply with the notice, they may be issued an infringement notice of $200 or be prosecuted in court for up to $5000.

Higher penalties may be applicable if the dog is a dangerous dog.

False complaints

If a false report is made for whatever reason, you can take civil action against the complainant in court for making a false declaration.

Guides, reports and policy

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Best Practice Guideline on the Identification, Investigation and Handling of Nuisance Dogs

Guide
This guideline is designed to assist local governments respond to nuisance barking complaints within their districts.
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Pause for paws

Report
Feedback on dog and cat laws in WA

Local laws

Local governments enact local laws and are responsible for enforcement of the Dog Act. Local laws enacted by a local government apply only to the area administered by that local government and are not State-wide laws. Information about local laws relating to dogs can be obtained from the relevant local government, as well as information about registration, microchipping, sterilisation, dangerous dogs, barking dogs, and exercise areas.

More information

Telephone 61 8 96552 7300
Freecall 1800 634 541 (regional WA callers only)
Email cats@dlgsc.wa.gov.au
Email dogs@dlgsc.wa.gov.au

Page reviewed 22 July 2019