dog ownership laws uk

Keep your dog on the right side of the law

During the Covid lockdowns there was a huge rise in the number of households owning a dog and there are now an estimated 13 million dogs in the UK, but how many dog owners are aware of the law and their legal responsibilities?

We’ve teamed up with Dog Trainer and Behaviourist Justin Gilmore, to find out more about some of the issues dog owners can have.

Justin comments: “Many of the issues owners face are because they didn’t fully understand or consider the breed type and their needs and requirements. High-energy breeds such as Cocker Spaniels, Border Collies and German shepherds are an example of such breeds.  You should never make an impulse decision about owning any pet, so considering how much time you have to spare and your lifestyle is very important to help you pick the most suitable breed.  It’s also important to do your research to find an appropriate breeder or rescue centre.”

“Training is essential with any dog, especially for puppies and the first 20 weeks are key to giving them a variety of experiences, but it is often around nine months of age when many owners reach ‘breaking point’ with ‘issues’, even though a dog isn’t fully mature until it’s about two and a half.  Aggression is frequently one of the behaviours which I work with the dog and the owner to overcome.”

“Aggression in dogs can be caused by fear or pain but it can also be down to the breed or breeding.  Either way you need to understand the benefits of creating a positive relationship and environment so the dog is balanced and not confused, and then your dog can truly thrive.  This results in the owner having a far greater degree of confidence, otherwise, there could be serious legal consequences.”

John Roberts at Gullands comments: “This is where it is important for dog owners to understand the law as it is against the law for a dog to be dangerously out of control in either a public place, a private place or in the owner’s home. Dangerously out of control means that it injures someone, but it also means if it makes someone worried that it might injure them.  A court could also decide a dog is dangerous if it attacks another animal, or if the owner of the animal thinks they could be attacked if they tried to stop their animal being attacked.”

“You can receive an unlimited fine and/or be sent to prison if your dog is dangerously out of control, you may be banned from owning a dog in the future and the dog could also be destroyed.”

“If your dog injures someone then you could be fined and sent to prison for up to five years. If you deliberately allow your dog to injure someone you could also be charged with malicious wounding.  If your dog kills someone, you can be sent to prison for up to 14 years and/or get an unlimited fine.”

“If you allow your dog to injure an assistance dog, for example a guide dog, you can be sent to prison for up to three years and/or fined.”

“If you leave someone else in charge of your dog, the onus would be on you to prove to the court that you reasonably believed that person to be a fit and proper person to be in charge of it.”

“You may also face civil action for financial damages including if your dog injures another dog which then needs expensive veterinary treatment. Dog owners should have pet insurance including third party liability cover against resulting compensation claims and legal costs.”

There are experts on hand to guide you on your journey to successful dog ownership, so don’t leave anything to chance.

For more information contact John Roberts