Applying for assistance dog approval

Public access rights for assistance dogs

People with assistance dogs trained by the following organisations are automatically granted public access rights under the Dog Act 1976, including access to any building or place open to or used by the public for any purpose, or travel on public transport. 

Other assistance dogs

While many dogs are trained by the organisations listed above, it is also possible for assistance dogs to be trained privately. Public access rights for privately trained 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. 

Applying for public access rights

To apply for public access rights for a dog not trained by one of the recognized organisations named above, a policy and application form must be completed and submitted to the department. This must be accompanied by a copy of electronic photographs of the applicant and the dog. Following approval, applicants will be provided with an identification card that must be carried on the named person at all times.

Approved applications are valid for two years, or six months for dogs granted a probationary approval. If an approval is close to expiring, it can be renewed if still required. 

Steps for making an assistance dog approval application

  1. Read the Assistance Dog Approvals Policy and Application Form, along with the Deciding Whether to Make an Application for an Assistance Dog. These documents will help you understand the process that DLGC undertakes to assess assistance dog approvals, the types of approvals granted and information as to whether or not you should make an application.
  2. If you decide you want to commence an application for an assistance dog, you will then need to ensure you collect all the necessary documentation to enable you to complete an Assistance Dog Application Form. Visit your vet and medical practitioner to obtain the declarations needed to fill out parts 3 and 4 of the Assistance Dog Application Form.
  3. You will need to provide evidence from your relevant local government that your dog is registered and microchipped. This can be in the form of an email, letter or copy of registration papers from your local government. Contact your local government to arrange this documentation.
  4. The dog must undertake and pass a Behaviour and Obedience Assessment (BOA). This will need to be submitted to the department by the Independent Public Access Test Assessor who has undertaken the assessment. The department can provide you with details of approved Independent Public Access Test Assessors that you can contact to arrange for a BOA to be undertaken.
  5. Finalise the Assistance Dog Application and submit it to the department for consideration. Please ensure all parts are completed and signed.
  6. Applications can be submitted to

Public access test

Once a dog has completed its initial 6-month probationary period, it is eligible to receive a full two-year approval. To be approved, the dog and its handler must pass the Public Access Test (PAT). The PAT indicates the minimum standard that must be achieved in order to be considered safe and effective in accessing public areas and public passenger vehicles on a daily basis.

Independent PAT assessors are approved by the department. Applicants need to show that they are capable of administering the PAT and ensuring that the dog is capable of being well behaved in public places and on public transport. All PAT assessors are responsible for their fee structure and organising tests with their clients. Once a PAT has been completed, the original assessment form must be forwarded to the department within seven working days.

After a dog has successfully completed the PAT, the applicant is responsible for submitting an application form seeking to have the dog's approval upgraded to a full two-year approval.

Once a dog has received a full two-year approval, this approval can be renewed each two years. A renewal will require the submission of a renewal form. The dog will also need to recomplete a PAT to demonstrate that the dog is still safe to be taken into public areas. 

Deciding whether to submit an application

Before considering an application to the department to have your dog approved as an assistance dog, it is important that you consider whether your dog may already be an assistance dog with public access rights. In addition, not all dogs will be deemed an assistance dog just because they assist you in some way.

How will I know if my dog is already an assistance dog?

If your dog has been trained or is being trained by one of the prescribed organisations listed at the top of this page, then it may already be an assistance dog for the purposes of the Dog Act 1976 and will have public access rights. The dog must have been assessed or is being assessed as competent to be an assistance dog by a person in an official capacity on behalf of these organisations.

If this applies to your situation, then contact the prescribed organisation who trained or assessed your dog, or the person or body who authorised your approval under another law, to discuss your dog's public access rights.

My dog is approved as an assistance dog in another state or territory

Under the Dog Act 1976, a dog that is approved under a law in another state or territory has public access rights in Western Australia.

If you intend to reside in Western Australia permanently or for an extended period of time, you can apply for a Western Australian Authorisation Card by providing evidence of your current approval. As long as your current approval is still valid, the department can issue a card with the same expiry date as your existing approval. 

Could my dog be an assistance dog?

Not all dogs are an assistance dog even if they assist you in some way. An assistance dog is a dog that is specially trained to assist a person to alleviate or manage the effect of that person's disability or medical condition.

Section 9(2) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 identifies an assistance animal as:

'… an assistance animal is a dog or other animal:

  1. accredited under a law of a State or Territory that provides for the accreditation of animals trained to assist a persons with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability; or
  2. accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this paragraph; or
  3. trained:
    1. to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability; and
    2. to meet standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place.'

The department provides an accreditation system for assistance animals in Western Australia under the provisions of the Dog Act 1976, with the authorisation card that is issued. The card provides evidence that the dog is "accredited under a law of a State or Territory that provides for the accreditation of animals trained to assist a persons with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability".

The Assistance Dog Policy outlines the requirements and process for gaining such an accreditation.

For more information about applications or assessments please contact the department.

Is an approval necessary?

It is not mandatory for a dog to be formally accredited by the department or by one of the organisations listed in the Dog Regulations. 

However, under federal anti-discrimination law, the handler of an assistance dog has the onus of proving that:

  • they possess a disability;
  • the assistance dog is needed to alleviate the disability; and
  • the dog is suitably trained to be taken into public areas.

The advantage of having a dog formally accredited is that the handler will receive an official card which can be shown to people to prove the dog's status and training. 

If a dog is not formally accredited, the handler may have difficulty proving that their dog is an assistance animal. This will increase the chances that the dog's entry into public areas will be refused. 

The Department is aware that some third party groups have been issuing cards in Western Australia. These groups are not formally affiliated with the WA government or listed in the Dog Regulations. As a result, there is no guarantee that a card issued by those groups will be recognised by the public or qualify the dog as an assistance animal.  

PAT assessors

Under the department's policies, all PAT assessments need to be carried out by a department-approved assessor.

In order to be approved by the department, an assessor must demonstrate that they have a high level of experience in relation to dog training and the assessment of assistance animals. The department is always looking for additional trainers to help in the accreditation process. 

Evidence needed to apply

  • A brief CV detailing history of working with/training dogs and assistance dogs.
  • Relevant qualifications attained to support working history.
  • Evidence of a previous PAT conducted (if applicable).
  • If the applicant has worked with a recognised organisation, a letter from that organisation stating that the applicant is competent to administer the test.
  • Additional information that may be required by the department.

How to apply

Complete the Independent Public Access Test Assessor Application Form.

Return the completed application form to:


Director General
Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
PO Box 8349 Perth Business Centre WA 6849

Therapy dogs

In recent years some individuals have been advertising "therapy dog" services, where a dog is brought to a patient (or vice versa) for the purposes of allowing the patient to pet or spend time with the dog.

Therapy dog services provide clear benefits to patients. Nevertheless, these services do not involve a situation where the dog is accompanying a handler in their day-to-day activities in order to alleviate a disability possesses by the handler. As a result, the Department is not involved in the assessment or accreditation of such dogs.

Page reviewed 27 November 2023