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Dog Laws in the UK

By: Sandy Bolan - Updated: 12 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Dangerous Dogs Control Obedience

Dog ownership is a privilege that must be taken seriously. All dog owners must raise and care for their dogs in a specific manner - one that does not harm the dog in any way. Dog owners must also follow specific dog legislation.

Having dog-specific laws in place may seem unreasonable, however, they were created, and are implemented, for society's safety, as well as that of the dog.

Every dog, no matter its size or breed, must be trained in basic obedience. This will go a long way in keeping your dog out of harm's way, and hopefully you and your dog will never have an encounter with local authorities.

To help owners out, the Kennel Club dog owners group has created two programs, the first being the Safe and Sound Scheme, which was created "to promote the safe interaction between children and dogs, and teaches children how to behave around dogs and to stay safe," according to the Kennel Club. "It can never be taken for granted that any dog will be 100 per cent safe with everyone all of the time."

The second program is the Good Citizen Dog Scheme, which covers both theoretical and practical dog training skills.

Under Control

As of 1992, the Control of Dogs Order requires any dog in a public place to wear a collar and ID tag with the name and address of the owner on it. Failure to comply can lead to a £5,000 fine.

However, every rule, including this one, has its exceptions. Dogs exempt from wearing a collar and ID tag in public include: dogs on official duty for the armed forces, HM Customs and Excise or police; sport dogs and packs of hounds; dogs used for capturing or destroying vermin; dogs used for driving/tending cattle or sheep; guide dogs for the blind; and dogs used for emergency rescue work.

Poop and Scoop

Did you know that until 2003 in Scotland, it was illegal to let your dog go potty in specified public places, regardless of whether or not the dirty deed was immediately removed or not.

The new act now makes public fouling an offence only when it is not immediately cleaned up. The remainder of UK dog owners who fail to scoop their dog's poop can be slapped with a £1,000 fine under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

Another way in which local authorities are trying to keep neighbourhoods beautiful is by handing out dog control orders. "This means that councils will be able to make an order for a standard offence to apply to land within their area," reports the Kennel Club.

Offences likely covered included: not putting or keeping a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer; permitting a dog to go onto unauthorised land; and taking more than the specified number of dogs onto land.

When it comes to trespassing, the Animals Act 1997 empowers farmers to shoot, without warning, dogs the farmer feels is a threat to his livestock. The dog's owner could face criminal prosecution for the same offence.

Dangerous Dogs

As of 1991, all breeds or types of Pit Bull Terriers, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino or Filo Braziliero must be registered, neutered, microchipped, tattooed and insured. "It is an offence to breed, sell, exchange or give away a dog of these breeds and they must have been registered by the end of November 1991. It is not possible to register them now," according to Birmingham Public Health.

If you illegally own one of these dogs, you can be hit with a maximum fine of £5,000 and/or six month's imprisonment.

Breeding

Dog breeders who breed five or more litters a year must be licensed under the Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999. Even if you breed fewer than five litters a year, but breed for business purposes, you too must be licensed.

The Act also states that licensed breeders: cannot mate a bitch under 12 months old; cannot whelp more than six litters from a bitch; cannot whelp two litters within a 12-month period from the same bitch; they must keep accurate records and puppies cannot be sold until they are eight weeks old. However, they are able to sell puppies, less than eight weeks of age, to a licensed pet shop or Scottish rearing establishment.

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[Add a Comment]
my ex dumped he's dogs with me over 18 months ago and has not paid towards there upkeep how long before they are legally mine?
Guest - 12-May-17 @ 5:50 PM
Is there any rules about how many dogs can be transported in a car at one time. Our neighbours have a small daycare business and transport other people's dogs in their small family estate car. We often count 10+ dogs ( inc Several large breeds) The poor animals are so squashed - we are concerned for their safety and welfare.
Julie - 22-Apr-17 @ 2:13 PM
Holly - Your Question:
I live in a flat two ground floor two upper floor,We share a front door and garden space, my neighbourHas a rockwiller large dog, she leaves her door openSo the dog roams free, I have asked her to put the dog on a Lead, she has refused, told me her dog is friendly, it doesn'tSound friendly when I have friends or trade people round.I'm scared that the dog may attack someone. Should the dogBe on a lead.

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk site here which will give you further information.
SaferPets - 4-Apr-17 @ 12:08 PM
I live in a flat two ground floor two upper floor, We share a front door and garden space, my neighbour Has a rockwiller large dog, she leaves her door open So the dog roams free, i have asked her to put the dog on a Lead, she has refused, told me her dog is friendly, it doesn't Sound friendly when i have friends or trade people round. I'm scared that the dog may attack someone. Should the dog Be on a lead.
Holly - 3-Apr-17 @ 9:55 PM
Can someone please advise me on this issue, is it legal ( in Scotland ) to leave your dog tied up outside a school ( for 5min ) not on the schools railing but a pavement railing? Thank you in advance if you can help advise
Jen - 29-Mar-17 @ 5:32 PM
Further to the advice on this page regarding dog law "However, there has been a main change in the law which extends it to keeping your dog under control on private property, meaning in a person's home, plus front and back garden" Our 7 month old kitten was savaged and killed in seconds by 2 working (farm) dogs(Lurchers) being kept on a residential estate, 100yds from an infant school, on Saturday. The owner admitted he wasn't able to get out in time to save his life, and the damage sustained to our boy in just a few seconds was horrific(I would post a picture but see no way of doing so) Surely dogs trained to hunt small prey, who are capable of doing this can't be deemed "under control" as the change in the law requires?I reported the incident to the police and was told I would be contacted by an investigating officer, I haven't as yet, but I understand I'm unlikely to get very far going down that avenue.I should add that I do like dogs and have met too many lovely ones to condemn all of them but I've been around cats and dogs all my life and have seen injuries resulting from cats getting into scrapes with domestic dogs and it just doesn't compare to what dogs trained to hunt small prey are capable of, surely working dogs of this type are a ticking time bomb on a residential estate, so close to a school with small children?Many thanks for your help, Howie
Howie - 21-Mar-17 @ 9:29 AM
Further to the advice on this page regarding dog law "However, there has been a main change in the law which extends it to keeping your dog under control on private property, meaning in a person's home, plus front and back garden" Our 7 month old kitten was savaged and killed in seconds by 2 working (farm) dogs(Lurchers) being kept on a residential estate, 100yds from an infant school, on Saturday. The owner admitted he wasn't able to get out in time to save his life, and the damage sustained to our boy in just a few seconds was horrific(I would post a picture but see no way of doing so) Surely dogs trained to hunt small prey, who are capable of doing this can't be deemed "under control" as the change in the law requires?I reported the incident to the police and was told I would be contacted by an investigating officer, I haven't as yet, but I understand I'm unlikely to get very far going down that avenue.I should add that I do like dogs and have met too many lovely ones to condemn all of them but I've been around cats and dogs all my life and have seen injuries resulting from cats getting into scrapes with domestic dogs and it just doesn't compare to what dogs trained to hunt small prey are capable of, surely working dogs of this type are a ticking time bomb on a residential estate, so close to a school with small children?Many thanks for your help, Howie
Howie - 21-Mar-17 @ 8:49 AM
To bunny. Sorry to hear your situation, you sound like you are suffering, with the dilema of juggling to many balls!I dont know if you are able to hold your ex legally responsible for the dog you say is legally registered to him. If it were me out of curiosity i would ask my vet as first point of call. They should be able to answer that i suspect. You sound like you are doing a great job and hats of to you for that. If i was you i would forget the ex and love what you have got coz no man can match a dog or cat or any animal no matter what or how much it costs! So my advise is blog the...... And love what you got.
Buddy - 20-Mar-17 @ 12:36 AM
I recently purchased a dog of a young lady who said the bog could be a bit nippy when excited,that was a lie,we've had the dog 2 weeks and in that time has bitten me and my partner several times which broke the skin and bled every time. 7 times this has happened.we have had the dog castrated as this was advised by the vet.we are now having to put him to sleep because he's just too aggressive with repeated attacks for no reason. So my question is, is there any law preventing owners from selling on an aggressive/ vicious dog and would we have a case to get the previous owner to pay for the castration and the initial money we paid for the dog.
Biting buddy - 17-Mar-17 @ 1:46 PM
@Williams - if you want to make sure your dog does not find themselves in these situations - then your only alternative is to keep your dogs on a lead. Once they are off the lead it's a free-for-all. I can't let my dog off the lead because he will chase other dogs as is the nature of the dog. It's all down to the responsibility of the owners. I don't think you can sue though. It's just down to one of those things!
Petal - 6-Mar-17 @ 12:56 PM
I was walking my two miniature dachshunds (both on leads, microchipped and both have I.D tags). We came off the road and into the field so I let them off their leads as I usually do. They are both trained and harmless so this has never been a problem. The field is huge and we made our way down to the bottom (about 400 metres) when a woman appeared with two dogs. I had only just noticed them as before this we were the only ones in the field up until this point. They were large dogs similar to the size of a greyhound though I am not sure what breed they were. My dogs are a little intimidated by other dogs as they are only small so when the dog caught sight of one and started bounding towards her with excitement she backed away. He was a friendly dog and I know his intentions were not to hurt her but she didn't know this and she ran away from him, he chases her all the way down the field. His owner was yelling but he was chasing her down and she was terrified, he chased her out of the field and down the road about 100 metres. As I ran to the end of the field the dog came back in bouncing towards its owner with excitement and I was running down the road shouting my dogs name at the top of my lungs with the other running alongside me (I had put her back on a lead before we got to the road). Luckily someone had pulled over and picked her up and so I retrieved her safely but I was wondering what could have happened in the worst scenario if she had been hit by a car and badly injured or even killed? Was the other dogs owner at fault as he would have chased her into the road causing her to be hit? Or would it not be anyone's fault since all dogs were off the lead and he didn't have aggressive intentions?
Williams - 5-Mar-17 @ 6:08 PM
I live on the outskirts of a town, with a large enclosed garden with 6 foot gates and a beware of the dog sign on it. When I go out my dogs have the run of the garden. I had a complaint from a passer by walking his dogs made to the council. He stated my dogs were barking and being aggressive towards him and his dogs, I've now been told to lock them in the back garden, is there a law that I have to do this? My dogs have shelter food and water when left, and the run of just under half an acre of garden, I feel this is their space, why should I lock them away? Please help? I've read so much but there's nothing that says I can't leave my dogs in my garden. They bark at passers by even when I'm home?? It's not constant or all day
Genki - 2-Feb-17 @ 6:54 PM
When I walk my dog the is one house that has 2 dobermans, while the owners work in the shop next door the both dogs are left in the front garden with a surrounding wall of just 3 ft. There are children walking past regularly and many other people with their dogs. I walked past with my dog one morning and the barking was aggressive and if they wanted they could quite easily clear the wall to attack. Is there a law about walls and fences being a certain hight as well as myself a lot of other people won't walk past if the dogs are out? Please help.
Boo boo - 19-Jan-17 @ 7:25 PM
Please help... my ex partner of 4 years left about 18 months ago. He came with his dog, a male patterdale who was his world. When he left, the deal was that I would look after the dog until he got settled somewhere back in Wales. Basically after about a year he stopped all contact and he and his family blocked me from calls, social media etc. I have a male boarder collie/lab cross and 3 cats. I also have 2 children aged 12 & 13. In the last couple of months Rooney (ex's dog) has become completely blind, he is around 14 now. He also has some incontinents issues. The problem is, now that he requires a lot of extra care, I'm unable to provide that with everything else going on, I am also unwell and cannot work currently, so don't have a great deal of money for ongoing vet bills for a dog that I love, but isn't even mine. He is microchipped in the ex's name etc and was only ever left with me as a temp measure. I did know it would take a while but we had discussed around about a year ish. I don't drive so I can't just take the dog back, nor do I know where my ex lives in Wales. Rooney is amazing, he is still so happy, still has so much life and fight in him and actually still enjoys life etc, so for me, getting him put down is a no no, and I also feel it's not actually my decision either. The ex has been more than useless, when I told him his dog was blind etc is when he and everyone he knows blocked me from everything, so I would like to know legally what I can do please, if anything? Rooney is snapping at my dog and my cats and it's horrendous. He has always been a barker when the door goes etc but now he bumps into my dog and it obviously makes him jump as he starts attacking my dog really badly, the noise is horrific. He has gone for the cats too if they catch him by surprise, and has growled at the kids but I don't believe he would ever bite them unless he felt 100% threatened, which he doesn't as we are very careful. He would really just benefit from being with his owner who has no other pets or dependants where he can peacefully live out the remainder of his life, and be the happiest he can be. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? Even if it came to having to have him put down if/when he deteriorates to a point that means he is no longer happy and comfortable then I don't think I could have it done being as the micro chip is not in my name. I love Rooney to bits, but it was only ever temporary and certainly wouldn't of been agreed upon had he been blind etc when my ex left. It's just too much with everything else. I take the care of my pets very seriously and have always made sure they're up to date with jabs, chipped and neautered etc, goes without saying as far as I'm concerned if you are a responsible pet owner it's part and parcel of it. I hadn't calculated him in the long term equation as it was never supposed to be long term and my ex stated that if there were any vet bills etc while he was in my care, he (the ex)
Bunny - 16-Jan-17 @ 11:31 PM
Is it against the law to not get your dog vacancied or chiped as i know a dog owner who refuses to do so and should i report it ?
Dogspotter - 10-Jan-17 @ 1:48 PM
@Vibe - if you think the dog is being neglected or cruelly treated you'd have to contact the RSPCA. 10 hours is too long to leave a dog. People, honestly, they don't have a clue about looking after pets, it angers me so! Ali.
AJ9876 - 6-Jan-17 @ 2:41 PM
My neighbours They bought a dachhound this summer, and the very first day left Her alone at home, while they went to work - she cried all day for 9 hours And they now work 10 hours or more every day - they never take her out, I know this because I can see their cars gone in the morning at 8.00 and they arrive home again at 18.00 sometimes later. I don't work every day, only part time so There is nobody coming either during the day to take her out. She doesn't cry anymore, guess the poor dog has given up I asked them, if they wanted me to take her out for a walk, since they obviously don't have the time And they took this as an insult and think they take good care of their dog, she eats and they take her to the vet if needed I feel so powerless and so so sorry for the dog, my husband too feels the same, what can we do?
Vibe - 5-Jan-17 @ 5:49 PM
Bradders - Your Question:
Is it OK to leave a dog in a van overnight, don't know if the dog has food or water but it's barking quite alot as people go by.do I phone the police and report.????

Our Response:
Yes, I would report this, if this is a regular occurance. Your local RSPCA will advise further.
SaferPets - 7-Dec-16 @ 12:32 PM
Is it OK to leave a dog in a van overnight, don't know if the dog has food or water but it's barking quite alot as people go by.....do I phone the police and report..????
Bradders - 6-Dec-16 @ 9:49 PM
Jas - Your Question:
I was wondering what the laws were (or if there are any laws) about leaving dogs outside tied up whilst you go inside a store etc. I am asking because I don't own a dog but today I saw one tied up outside a pub for 2 hours (at least) with no food or water. The dog was shaking and non-stop barking. It was 2 degrees maximum today. I think that this behaviour isn't acceptable but I don't know if I have any ground to stand on for reporting it.

Our Response:
In a situation such as this, calling a non-emergency police number may help, as the police would be able to judge whether this was neglect or not. However, there are no specific laws to say how long a dog should be left unattended.
SaferPets - 5-Dec-16 @ 12:22 PM
I was wondering what the laws were (or if there are any laws) about leaving dogs outside tied up whilst you go inside a store etc. I am asking because I don't own a dog but today I saw one tied up outside a pub for 2 hours (at least) with no food or water. The dog was shaking and non-stop barking. It was 2 degrees maximum today. I think that this behaviour isn't acceptable but I don't know if I have any ground to stand on for reporting it.
Jas - 4-Dec-16 @ 4:27 PM
Hi can anyone verify what is meant in the 1992 Dog Act, by owners address that must be on the dogs collar or attached to it. I know it sounds silly but I have put house number and postcode, but been told this is not sufficient. In the dog act it doesn't spell out how the address must be written.
Jean - 22-Nov-16 @ 11:47 PM
Hi we recently adopted a dog from a licensed dog fostering company but they won't hand over the vet records and we are worried he is stolen. We are taking him down to the vets to check if he is microchipped and to see if he is registered to them but if not, what do we do? He has already become part of the family and we honestly thought the charity was real.
rachdach - 27-Oct-16 @ 12:29 PM
Hi... We recently moved to Uk with out pet dog. We found an apartment to rent trough a rental agency after some difficulty. We had clearly stated that we have a pet and paid double security for it. Within a week of moving in we got a letter from the property management saying pets are not allowed without prior permission and have been asked to remove him from the premises. The landlord says such a issue has never come up before and his prior tenants have dogs. A meeting was held and we have been given 45 days notice to make other arrangements for him . They have also told that neighbours get dished when he walks/runs in the apartment. He is extremely friendly and rarely barks. How do i go about this now? We've spent quite a bit on this place. Are we allowed to break the tenancy agreement?
Melph - 21-Sep-16 @ 6:44 PM
Hi. We own the house next to the block of flats (social housing ruled by housing association). We have open front yard, where we removed the grass and put the slate. Every morning I find the dog poo in my front garden or on my path/driveway. I've seen (twice) a lady who lives in the flats taking the dog for a "walk" to our garden. I opened the window and looked outside (it was around 10pm) and spotted her standing in front of our house with the dog on the lead pooping in our front yard/garden. Once she heard window opening she dragged the dog out and quickly walked away... Second time i heard the sound of shoveling the stones. Again she was standing on the pavement while her dog was covering it's poop in our slate garden. She walked away again wothout picking it up... Now I find poop every day- I'm sure it's her dog and it drives me mad. She treats our garden as a very convenient dog toilet!!!Is there a legal action I can take (or just can threat her with) as I suspect just asking her not to do it again would not work... Can police/community officer, council or housing association (as a landlord they're supposedly strict with anty-social behaviour) help us to sort it out if reasoning with her would not work? Can I take photo/video of her and her dog legally?
Barbs - 29-Aug-16 @ 9:48 AM
Hello We are currently living in an apartment of a building in London that does not allow home owners to keep a pet. However, our immediate neighbour has gone ahead and kept a pet dog. The result of which is soiled carpets and dirt right outside our door which seems to be getting worse by the day. I have contacted the management company of the building who mentioned they will perform spot check to confirm if any pet dog indeed is being owned before they take any action. I am still waiting to hear from them and have already chased up once. What are my options in this case to be able to take some effective actions without stepping onto the wrong foot of the neighbourhood? Looking forward to hear from you. Kind regards Kanchan
Kanchan - 27-Aug-16 @ 8:18 PM
QueenBee007uk - Your Question:
Does a Bull mastiff need to be muzzled when out in public also does it need to be kept on a lead at all times. I'm asking as my sister was out walking her dog and a Bull mastiff came charging at her dog. She had hold of her dog by the collar trying to keep the mastiff away from her dogs neck and in doing so the mastiff bit my sister. The Bullmastiff owners were a good distance away. My sisters partner was kicking to try keep the Bullmastiff away from my sister and her dog. After about a minute the other dogs owner came towards them and called his dog away from them. He blamed my sisters dogs barking for the attack. Didn't apologise or anything. She got home reported it to the police. Then went to hospital had x rays and the bite cleaned and dressed. Also give a 7day course of very strong antibiotics. The police are coming out to see her and she has photographs of her hands.

Our Response:
There are no specific restrictions for a Bullmastiff. However, it’s against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control in public and if a person lets their dog injure someone they can be sent to prison for up to five years or fined (or both). For further information please see gov.uk link here. The police should follow up the complaint and attempt to trace the dog owner.
SaferPets - 19-Aug-16 @ 11:18 AM
Does a Bull mastiff need to be muzzled when out in public also does it need to be kept on a lead at all times. I'm asking as my sister was out walking her dog and a Bull mastiff came charging at her dog. She had hold of her dog by the collar trying to keep the mastiff away from her dogs neck and in doing so the mastiff bit my sister. The Bullmastiff owners were a good distance away. My sisters partner was kicking to try keep the Bullmastiff away from my sister and her dog. After about a minute the other dogs owner came towards them and called his dog away from them. He blamed my sisters dogs barking for the attack. Didn't apologise or anything. She got home reported it to the police. Then went to hospital had x rays and the bite cleaned and dressed. Also give a 7day course of very strong antibiotics. The police are coming out to see her and she has photographs of her hands.
QueenBee007uk - 18-Aug-16 @ 3:50 PM
@Han141103 - There is no legal age requirement - but your parents/guardians are seen as beingresponsible if there was an incident which could lead to prosecution. For instance, if your dog injured a person while in your control, your parents would have to be able to prove that you were responsible enough to be in charge of the dog, which may be difficult if you have a large dog that could be aggressive.
KarlH64 - 10-Aug-16 @ 10:00 AM
Is a 12 year old aloud to walk an American bulldog in the uk?, which they can control the dog and hold the dog properly.
Han141103 - 9-Aug-16 @ 12:30 AM
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