Dog laws every owner should know

Dog laws every owner should know

If you own a four-legged friend, it’s your responsibility to learn about canine-related laws. The UK has various legal safeguards in place to protect people and pooches alike. Whether or not an incident is intentional, dog owners breaking the law can face hefty fines or even imprisonment.

While this legal framework helps to cultivate balanced, happy pooches, you can never rule out every risk. It’s impossible to predict when medical issues or injuries might occur, which is why it’s so important to secure reliable pet insurance cover.

Go Get It is here to help. We offer a quick and easy pet insurance comparison tool, helping you find affordable policies tailored to you and your furball.

Get peace of mind your pooch is protected – vet bills can quickly stack up, so don’t delay.

We’re pet lovers, too, which is why we’ve created this guide to the dog laws all owners need to know.

While this shouldn’t be viewed as legal advice, it will help you deepen your understanding of responsible doggy ownership, so it’s well worth a read.


What identification is my dog legally required to have?

It’s an exciting time, bringing your new pup home, but don’t forget to ensure your beloved pet has the necessary identification:

Microchip: the law states that, from 8 weeks of age, all dogs must be microchipped. Exceptions are made for canine’s with specific health issues, certified by a vet.

Before they go to new homes, young pups must be microchipped, with the breeder recorded as the original keeper.

Reputable breeders should be able to give the new owner the relevant paperwork.

The dog’s owner must keep the details linked to the microchip up to date – for example, if you move house, you must update your address.

Owners who don’t get their pooch microchipped face fines as high as £500.

Collar/tag: many owners are unaware of the fact they’re legally required to include their name and address on their canine’s collar – when in public.

This falls under the Control of Dogs Order 1992.

A small brown dog sitting on a porch with a blue collar on

What does the Animal Welfare Act include?

The Animal Welfare Act was created to ensure our dogs are kept safe and sound, leading joyful, healthy lives free from pain, hunger, illness and suffering.

Ever heard of the ‘five freedoms’? These relate to fundamental animal welfare needs all owners are legally obliged to provide for.

They include:

  1. The right to be given and eat a reasonable diet
  2. The right to live in an environment fit for purpose
  3. The right to display normal behaviours
  4. The right to be shielded from injury, disease, pain and suffering
  5. The right to live in a home with, or separate from, additional animals

If you fail to meet these needs, you could be prosecuted. Owners who neglect their pups could be summoned to court and given a six-month prison sentence, alongside a fine as high as £20,000.

They could also have their dogs removed from the home and get slapped with a pet-owning ban.

Committing animal cruelty could soon lead to prison sentences of up to five years, according to recent government announcements.

A line-up of various dog breeds

Is excessive barking illegal?

While it’s only natural for a pooch to bark now and then, local authorities have the legal right to remove your canine from the home, should you ignore a request to remedy excessive barking.

Frequent barking is a sure-fire sign of doggy distress. It’s often triggered by loneliness, anxiety or a lack of attention.

Owners should take the time to provide their pup with adequate mental and physical stimulation, giving them plenty of love and affection, as well as the right insurance cover.

Use our pet insurance comparison tool today to get a quick quote.


Are electric shock collars legal?

According to the Animal Welfare (Electronic Collars) Regulations, canine collars that emit electric shocks are currently banned in Wales.

Owners found to be using such collars on their dogs could be met with a six-month prison sentence and a fine, capped at £20,000.

Blue Cross and many other pet protection charities are fundamentally against electric shock collars, due to the fear and pain they cause creatures.

They’re campaigning for a ban to be enforced UK-wide, ensuring this mode of training is phased out completely.

A sad looking dog behind a metal fence

Can I dock my dog’s tail?

The Docking of Working Dogs Tails Regulations states that the docking of a pet canine’s tail is against the law – whether the tail is docked wholly or partially.

There are a few exemptions, however. Docking is legal if:

  • A dog’s tail needs to be removed for medical reasons.
  • There are plans for the pooch in question to become a working canine – the pup must be under five days of age when the docking takes place.

Do note, these exceptions only apply to specific breeds, so make sure you know your facts.


What is the Dangerous Dogs Act?

According to the Dangerous Dogs Act, it is illegal to permit your canine to act ‘dangerously out of control’ in: your private home; other people’s private properties; front and rear gardens; public spaces.

You could be prosecuted if:

  • Your pooch attacks or bites another person
  • A person has reason to fear your dog will attack them
  • Your pup attacks an assistance dog

This applies to canines of every breed and size. If your furry pal injures someone, you could face a three-year prison sentence.

If your pooch is responsible for the death of a person, you could face a prison sentence of up to 14 years, an uncapped fine and a pet-owning ban.

Sadly, a canine that causes a human fatality could be euthanised.

Even if no injury is caused, in the event your canine makes someone fear for their personal safety, you could be fined as much as £5,000, receive a six-month prison sentence and face a pet-owning ban. If your dog is considered a threat to others, they could be put to sleep.

This is why it’s so essential to train your pup in a kind, consistent way from day one – bad habits can be curbed with early intervention.

If your four-legged friend attacks an intruder illegally entering your home, the court allows for a defence of this.

Not every owner trains their dog in a responsible manner, which puts other pooches at risk of attack and serious injury.

Go Get It can carry out fast pet insurance comparison for you, so you can rest assured your canine’s protected with reliable cover.

A gavel and scales from a court of law

Can I take my dog to restaurants, pubs or cafes?

It’s perfectly legal to take your dog to public places where food and drink is consumed – although business owners are within their rights to refuse canines entry.

Mutts cannot legally step foot in food preparation areas, or areas where food is stored – a restaurant kitchen, for example, so make sure they’re secured with a lead in dining establishments.


Am I legally required to pick up my dog’s poop?

In the majority of public areas, dog owners are legally required to pick up after their pooches.

You are not obliged to scoop poop when walking through woodland, heathland or land where animals graze, although this may not apply if a particular bylaw or order has been placed.

Local authorities can also enforce Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) to prevent poop problems – signs are used to indicate PSPO areas.

Such orders make it mandatory for owners to bring poo bags with them when walking their dogs, cleaning up doggy do-do in specified areas. If you’re caught leaving your dog’s mess behind, you could face a penalty of up to £100.

There’s a reason owners are expected to scoop their pup’s poop: canine poo sometimes contains parasites that, when ingested, can trigger abortions in pregnant cattle and lead to blindness in people.

Assistance dog owners who are unable to collect pooch poo are exempt from dog-fouling rules.

A dog with a harness on sniffing the grass

Do I have to keep my dog on a lead?

While you are not legally required to keep your pup on a lead in every public area, there are specific public places where this is obligatory:

  • Roads
  • Parks
  • Sports grounds
  • Beaches
  • Play areas for children

Those who fail to comply could be fined or face a fixed penalty notice.

Owners should also keep their eyes peeled for PSPO signage that restricts canines to lead-walking or bars their entry from areas completely – you can check your local council’s website for more information.

Local authorities can also enforce the use of a lead on ‘designated’ roads, which should be marked with the relevant signage.


What are my legal rights if my dog’s involved in a road accident?

If your pup is injured by a vehicle, the driver is legally required to give you their name and address – or give these details to whomever is looking after your pooch at the time of the accident.

If no one is supervising your furball, the driver is obliged to report the accident to the police within 24 hours.

In the unfortunate event your pup causes a road accident involving death, injury or illness, you could be liable.

Legal costs can quickly stack up, which is why it’s vital to protect your pet with a reliable policy.

Go Get It carry out top-notch pet insurance comparison, helping owners find the best possible cover fast.

A dog looking out a car window

Is it legal to travel with my dog in my vehicle?

The Highway Code states that canines must be ‘suitably restrained’ during journeys in vehicles, preventing them from distracting the driver or causing injury to you or themselves.

If you don’t follow the code, you won’t be committing an offence, but if an accident occurs, canine-related distraction could be factored into a legal judgement.

Your dog will also be more safe and secure if you ensure they’re adequately restrained.

If a crash took place, your canine could be at risk of serious injury, being thrown forward at significant speed.


Can I take my pooch on holiday?

While requirements could change post-Brexit, at present pet owners need to get their dogs pet passports, microchips and vaccinations in order to travel – you’ll need to bring certification on your travels with you, as proof.

In the EU, the Pet Travel Scheme enables canine owners to take their pet on holiday to EU countries, alongside a list of additional countries that are part of the scheme.

In order to return home, your pup will need a tapeworm treatment administered in the country you’re holidaying in.

Make sure you get dependable dog cover before you venture off.

Go Get It understands that owners have busy lives; this is why we offer first-rate pet insurance comparison, taking the hard work off your hands.

A dog laying on a towel on a boat with sunglasses on

What happens if I lose my dog?

If you lose your pup and the local authorities pick him/her up, they have a duty to hold your dog for one week. Sadly, after this point, they have the right to rehome or euthanise the animal – this is why up-to-date doggy identification is so important.

Those who find strays must try to find the current owner. If this is not possible, the dog warden must be informed, otherwise keeping the canine could be deemed as theft.


Which dog breeds are illegal?

In the UK, the following breeds are banned:

  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Braziliero
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Pitbull Terrier

Exceptions may be made for dogs that pass a behavioural assessment, but they’ll be required to wear a muzzle and lead at all times when out in public.

Owners will also need to secure third-party liability cover.


Where can I legally kennel my dog?

In England, dog owners can board their pooches in establishments that have been granted a licence by the local authority; kennels, home boarding providers and doggy day care centres are all obliged to obtain such licences.

Certain local authorities also request that professional dog walkers be licensed, but this varies from place to place.

A dog chasing a bouncing ball in a fenced grass area

Get a pet insurance comparison today

As a responsible pet owner, staying informed helps you stay within the confines of the law. While this helps to protect you and your pooch, you can’t safeguard against every eventuality.

Unexpected accidents, injuries and medical problems can come out of the blue, so to ensure your pet has the best quality of life possible, you’ll need to get dependable cover.

Don’t have the time?

As the UK’s only dedicated pet insurance comparison site, Go Get It is here to step in and assist. We’ll find you specialist insurance that fits around you, your pet and your bank balance.

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