Dog ownership and the law

Owner and foster carer information

All dog owners and people caring for a dog on a temporary basis and should make themselves aware of the following information to be compliant with the laws of owning a dog in order to safeguard themselves, their dog and others.  It is extremely important when caring for a dog that you know your responsibilities.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 stipulates that dog owners must take proper care and reasonable steps to ensure their dogs welfare needs are met which are:
  • You must provide your dog with a suitable environment

  • Provide a suitable diet for your dog

  • Enable your dog to exhibit normal behaviour patters

  • Safeguard them from pain and suffering, disease and injury

  • Provide them with suitable housing and shelter

Identification/Tags, Collars, Microchipping and Lost Dogs - Control of Dogs Order 1992

When in public, your dog must always wear a collar with an identification tag attached, the ID tag must include the owner’s name, address and telephone number.  You must ensure the contact details are up to date and clearly visible. 

Sometimes tags can be lost/detached during boisterous play and walks so we recommend either having two on your dog’s collar or securing the tag with a stronger ring.  Due to wear and tear, your details can fade so it’s a good idea to check these regularly. 

If your dog is over 8 weeks old, it is compulsory for them to be microchipped.  This is a very simple and quick procedure that your vet will preform for you.  It is your responsibility to keep your contact information up to date so that if your dog is lost or stolen, they can be identified.  If you move to a new house or change your contact details, you must ensure your dogs microchip information is updated.

If your dog escapes or is lost, it is important you notify the local authority dog warden service straight away otherwise, if a member of the public reports your dog as a stray, the local authority will seize your dog and you may have to pay a fee to get your dog back.  If your dog is not claimed within 7 days from them, they have the right to rehome or euthanise your dog so make sure you have their telephone number to hand in case you need it.

Dangerously Out of Control - Dangerous Dogs Act 1991

Whether in a public place or on private property including your home, a dangerously out of control dog can be defined as a dog that has injured someone or there are reasonable grounds to believe it could injure someone.  Under the Act, this also includes your dog attacking an assistance dog. If your dog injures someone you could be prosecuted and face a significant fine and or prison.  Your dog could be seized by the police if it has injured someone and if convicted of the offence, your dog could be euthanised.  It is always your responsibility to keep your dog under control. 


Livestock Worrying

Dogs are not allowed to worry livestock.  It is an offence if your dog chases, attacks or causes suffering to livestock, you will be held responsible as their owner and if convicted, could face a significant fine.

A farmer may also shoot your dog if there is no other means from stopping your dog, so always keep your dog on a lead around livestock.  

Keeping Your Dog on a Lead

On certain roads and motorways, it is an offence to have your dog off their lead.  Be responsible and always keep your dog on a lead when road walking with your dog.

Scoop the Poop

Be a considerate and responsible dog owner by cleaning up after your dog and disposing of it correctly otherwise you may be fined.  Remember parks and public places are there for everyone to enjoy, don’t give dogs and other owners a bad name by not cleaning up!  Always carry your poop bags.

Transporting Your Dog - The UK Highway Code

Dogs must be suitably restrained when travelling in a vehicle so that they cannot distract you, injure you or injure themselves.  There are various travelling restrains available like dog guards, crates, seat belt harness etc.

Dogs in Hot Cars - Animal Welfare Act 2006

It may be considered an offence if you leave your dog in a hot car.  Even with water supply, windows down and sun shields, your dog will not be able to cool themselves down adequately and they may die so never leave your dog in a hot car.

For further information, there is an excellent resource which explains in detail your responsibilities by law as a dog owner, this is the statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs available on the Government websites;

Download the code of practice for the welfare of dogs here >>

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