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Responsible dog ownership

Pet owners are responsible for making sure that their pets remain healthy, well-socialised and safe, and that their needs are balanced with those of the wider community.

Dog ownership

Dog owners must ensure their dog(s):

  • Wears a collar and registration tag when in a public place
  • Is kept in an adequately fenced area with a self-closing gate
  • Can be confined to the property where it lives
  • Is under the control of a competent person, on a maximum two-metre lead, when in a public place
  • Is exercised off a leash in designated areas only, with the person in control carrying a leash to ensure the dog can be restrained if required
  • Is registered in one person’s name, who must be over the age of 18.

Transfer of dog ownership

If you sell your dog or give your dog to another person, you will need to complete the pet registration form below so we can update your dog's records.

There are no fees associated with transferring ownership. 

Transferring pet ownership

Under the Dog Act 1976 and Cat Act 2011, local governments are unable to transfer pet registration ownership until the appropriate form has been completed either by the previous owner or the new owner.  Alternatively where the previous owner is unable to provide the name, address and contact number of the new owner, a WA Statutory Declaration form will be accepted when signed by an authorised person.

To request a paper version of the form, please phone the City’s Customer Contact Centre on (08) 9205 8555.

Ownership of more than two dogs

If you intend to own more than two dogs aged over three months, you must apply for a permit. You’ll also need approval from all surrounding neighbours and pay a property inspection fee when you submit your application. For more information, please phone our Contact Centre.

Application for more than two dogs

Barking dogs

If a barking dog is bothering you, or any other repetitive noise the dog is making, the first step you should take is to contact the owner in a polite manner and let them know that their dog’s behaviour is affecting you. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching the dog owner, we suggest you leave a polite note in their letterbox. Remember to include as much information as possible, such as specific times when the barking occurs and any other behaviours you’ve witnessed. It’s quite often the case that the owner is unaware their dog is misbehaving while they’re out and the matter can be easily resolved by just letting them know.

Of course, this is not always effective or possible. In these situations, the City has the following process for addressing dog noise complaints.

Dog noise complaint process

  1. Unreasonable barking occurs

    A dog is barking persistently or creates noise to such a degree that it unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any person in any place.

  2. Dog owner approached

    If the affected person/s feels comfortable, politely approach the dog owner to discuss the issue or leave a courteous note in their letterbox to outline when the barking is occurring.

  3. Complaint lodged

    If two weeks since notifying the dog owner have passed and the barking has continued to be unreasonable, the affected person should contact the City of Stirling via the Customer Contact Centre to lodge a complaint. Please be aware that it is essential you identify the property where the dog resides.

  4. Both owner and complainant are contacted

    The Community Safety team will contact the involved parties by post. The dog owner will receive information on how to address the dog noise issue and will be given time to take necessary measures to reduce the barking. The complainant will be given a 10-day dog noise diary, information on how to complete the diary and other resources that may be helpful.

  5. Barking reduces

    If the barking has subsided to an acceptable level after two weeks, no further action will be taken and the complaint will be closed.

  6. Unreasonable barking continues

    If the barking has continued to be unreasonable after two weeks, the complainant will need to complete the 10-day dog noise diary. Please ensure that the actual number of barks/howls/whines is recorded in the diary as well as the length of time each day the barking has occurred. The completed diary is then submitted to the Senior Ranger for assessment.

  7. Action taken

    Depending on the outcome of the dog noise diary assessment, the appropriate action will be taken. Please note, the complainant will be notified if a diary has been completed incorrectly, or if the dog noise is considered reasonable as per the guidelines for nuisance dogs.

What can I do if my dog is barking?

Dogs do not bark without a reason. Barking can occur when the dog is excited, when it’s threatened, when seeking its owner’s attention or when responding to a distant sound or signal.

To stop a dog from barking excessively you first need to find out when and why the dog is barking. The problem should then be treated in the early stages, as prolonged and habitual barking is very difficult and time-consuming to correct.

Excessive barking may be due to:

  • Boredom or lack of exercise - Some dogs require more stimulation than others. Whether your dog is full of energy or has a curious mind, it’s important to make sure your dog’s needs are met by providing adequate physical exercise before you leave the house and leaving them with mental enrichment toys. Some experts recommend a minimum of two hours exercise daily for certain breeds of dog.
  • Breed - Barking is a natural behaviour that may occur more in some breeds than others, often due to temperament and other breed traits Prospective owners should carefully consider this when selecting a dog suitable for their lifestyle and home environment.
  • Confinement -Dogs will bark at any noises or movements they can see, hear or smell, but are not able to investigate or reach. People or dogs passing by, birds or aeroplanes flying overhead, a lawnmower, the telephone ringing, a knock on the door or the sound of other dogs may trigger a bout of barking.
  • Isolation - Dogs are social animals and will actively seek the company of other dogs and people. When left alone in backyards all day, they may bark for attention. Most dogs will adapt to being left on their own if conditioned to do so from an early age, but this is not always the case.
  • Fence-line distractions - A dog should not be kept near a walkway, hostile neighbours, or where children can tease it. The location of the dog’s kennel or run may need to be changed if it is too close to a neighbour or other distraction. Neighbours who have dogs that growl and bark at each other should restrict each of the dogs’ access to the fence-line. A high, solid fence, or confining the dog to the rear of a property, can prevent a dog from growling, barking or lunging at passers-by.
  • Visitors - A dog will often bark at visitors arriving, whether they are strangers or friends, especially if it is behind a barrier. If a dog is introduced to visitors, it won’t be so vocal when they arrive.
  • Anxiety - Many dogs are anxious or insecure when their owners are absent and may cope with the stress of separation by barking, digging or chewing. Enrichment toys or hide bones can be given to the dog before its owner leaves home, as these can provide an outlet for the dog’s anxiety. Minimal attention should be given to the dog before its owner leaves the property.
  • Excitement - Excitable dogs will bark when overstimulated. This frequently occurs during play, or when the dog is chasing a ball or birds in the garden.
  • Changes in the dog’s life - A major change in an older dog’s lifestyle or environment may cause excessive barking. If an owner starts working longer hours, a marriage breaks up, a new baby arrives or a family shifts house, the amount and type of attention the dog receives or its status in the household may change. Instead of ignoring the dog, the owner should establish a new routine that includes exercise, training and play.
  • Discomfort - Dogs that are hot, wet, cold or without shelter may bark, as will dogs that are hungry, thirsty, sick or in pain. Before leaving home, owners should ensure their dog has access to bedding, food, water and familiar toys throughout the day. Dogs that are kept inside should have access to the outside when their owners are absent.
  • Teaching the dog to bark - Sometimes when you’re trying to quieten your barking dog you can accidentally teach them that barking is good and will get them what they want. ‘Rewards’ such as going for a walk, bringing your dog inside and giving them treats should not be used to interrupt your dogs barking. These methods can provide a short-term fix in the moment but will lead to ongoing problems.

What can be done to correct excessive barking?

There is no quick fix or easy solution to problem barking. Some dogs have behavioural problems such as separation anxiety, which requires specific treatment and behavioural modification. Once you identify why your dog is barking you will need to work out the best way to address it. Dependent on the reason your dog is barking, there may be several solutions available to you. For advice on the best approach for your situation, consider approaching:

  • Your local veterinarian
  • A dog obedience club
  • An animal behaviourist.

Physical punishment should never be used to train your dog. As well as being cruel, hitting a barking dog does not achieve anything except to reward the dog by giving it the attention it was seeking. Even though the attention is negative, the dog will only remember that it’s actions (barking) resulted in getting attention. Physical punishment also increases the likelihood of future barking by making the dog more anxious and may also cause it to bite when threatened in the future.

Dog attacks

Whether you are a dog owner or someone in control of a dog, you are legally responsible for how your dog behaves. The City treats dog attacks very seriously.

  • Under the WA Dog Act 1976 an attack is defined as:

    • Aggressively rushing at or harassing any person or animal
    • Biting, or otherwise causing physical injury to, a person or an animal
    • Tearing clothing on, or otherwise causing damage to the property of, the person attacked
    • Attempting to attack, or behaving in such a manner toward a person as would cause a reasonable person to fear physical injury.

    It is important to note that a dog does not have to cause injury for a dog attack offence.

  • The City treats dog attacks very seriously and investigates all reports of a potential dog attack. If you or your dog are involved in a dog attack, seek appropriate medical or veterinary attention immediately, then contact the City’s Rangers on (08) 9205 8555 and inform them of the incident.

    To assist with investigations, try to obtain the following information:

    • Description of the dog or dog owner
    • Dog owner and/or witness information
    • Photos of any injuries sustained as a result of the dog attack
    • Location, date and time of the incident
    • Medical and veterinary documentation should you or your pet require treatment
    • Vehicle registration of the dog owner (if available).
  • The outcome of a dog attack can result in either infringements being issued or a court prosecution.

    Where the attack causes physical injury, the person in control of the dog may incur penalties of up to $10,000. If the offence relates to a dangerous dog there may be penalties up to $20,000.

    If no physical injury is caused, the person in control of the dog may incur penalties of up to $3,000 and up to $10,000 if the offence relates to a Dangerous Dog.

  • Whether you are a dog owner or someone in control of a dog, you are legally responsible for how your dog behaves. By effectively controlling your dog you can prevent it from attacking people and other animals. To prevent a dog attack, always:

    • Be aware of your surroundings
    • Always keep your dog under effective control
    • Do not approach other dogs without the permission of the owner.

Did you know?

Where the attack causes physical injury, the person in control of the dog may incur penalties of up to $10,000.

Dangerous and restricted dogs

Dangerous and restricted dogs are treated differently by law and all dog owners must comply with the requirements of the Dog Act 1976.

Declared breed

While most dog owners responsibly train and control their dogs, some do not. Any individual dog, of any breed may be declared as dangerous by the Senior Ranger.

Commercial Security dog

A dog that is kept primary for the purpose of guarding or protecting a premise that is not a dwelling is considered dangerous.

Restricted breeds

Under the Dog Act, a dangerous dog is defined as a breed whose import into Australia is restricted. Some dog breeds are identified as restricted in Australia. This also includes any cross breeds identified as restricted

The following breeds are classified as restricted:

  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brasileiro
  • Japanese Tosa
  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario.

Dangerous dog ownership requirements 

All dangerous dogs must be:

  • Registered annually
  • Sterilised
  • Wearing a prescribed collar
  • Muzzled and on a lead when in public places
  • Under the control of a competent adult.

If you own a dangerous dog, ensure:

  • A dangerous dog sign is installed at all access points to your property
  • Fencing is secure and childproof so that the dog can be contained safely
  • You may have a maximum of 2 dangerous dogs per property, before requiring a permit.