Socialising your pets: Mandurah canine expert calls for mandatory dog training in Western Australia

Controlling your canines: Mandurah canine behaviour specialist Holly Drage, pictured with Boston, has called for mandatory training for dog owners to be implemented. Photo: Supplied.

Controlling your canines: Mandurah canine behaviour specialist Holly Drage, pictured with Boston, has called for mandatory training for dog owners to be implemented. Photo: Supplied.

A Mandurah canine behaviour specialist has called on the state government to implement mandatory dog training legislation to help pet owners control their animals and avoid attacks.

The Mandurah Mail reported last year that over 1000 dog attacks had taken place locally over a five-year period.

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The City of Mandurah stated that a high number of dog attacks occur when animals escape from their homes and pledged to review its prosecution policy after the statistics were made public.

The state government is currently calling for feedback on the WA Dog Act, which was implemented in 1976 and is applied by local governments.

Canine behaviour specialist Holly Drage said while most pet owners loved their animals, many did not have the necessary skillset or knowledge base to keep their dogs safe.

"Socialising your dogs is the most important thing," she said.

"Mandatory dog training should be implemented to give dog owners an understanding of a dog's behaviour and body language, which can help them throughout their dog's life.

"I personally think dog owners in today's society are lacking sound understanding and knowledge of a dog's behaviour and language and are reinforcing behaviours they shouldn't be, built up over time.

"Hence why I see so many behavioural problems these days.

"A really basic example - simple behaviour traits of a dog yawning or licking his lips, does not simply mean the dog is tired or hungry. It implies many other behaviours like anxiety, fear or aggression.

"So we have to teach owners to take a step back, don't assume something straight away, look at the environment you are in and what's triggering these behaviours.

"If an everyday person really understood a dog's body language I think things would be very different."

West Australian local government minister David Templeman welcomed Ms Drage's comments and said anyone with an opinion on dog ownership should make a submission in the current review process.

"The review of the Dog and Cat Acts that I have initiated is seeking feedback from individuals and stakeholders," he said.

"Dangerous dog issues are always of particular concern and will be one of the areas focussed on in the review. I strongly urge the local trainer to make a formal submission to the process."

To have your say on dog legislation before the August 4 cut-off date, read the consultation paper and complete the short survey here.