What is the Dangerous Dogs Act and does it affect me?

What is the Dangerous Dogs Act and does it affect me?

The Dangerous Dogs Act applies to all breeds of pooch, making it illegal for canines to be ‘out of control’, injuring someone or giving them cause to fear attack.

It’s your responsibility as an owner to train and get to know your pup, understanding their boundaries so you can keep them – and others – safe. 

While staying legally informed is vital, you can also assist your dog by creating a happy, calm and secure home for them, ensuring they get adequate physical and mental stimulation.

In turn, this lessens the likelihood of aggressive behaviour becoming a problem. 

Of course, you can never rule out risks such as accidental injury, illness or even physical harm caused by other canines, so securing reliable dog insurance is another essential.

Go Get It can help - we know how important your favourite furball is to you. We offer first-rate pet insurance comparison, saving you time and money, so you have peace of mind your pooch is protected.

We understand the challenges owners face, which is why we’ve created this guide explaining the Dangerous Dogs Act – a safer canine world is a happier one.

A family surrounding a happy dog whilst out on a walk

What do I need to know about the Dangerous Dogs Act?

From 1991 onwards, it became illegal for canines to be ‘out of control in a public place’. According to the RSPCA, this includes:

  • Biting a person
  • Attacking a person
  • Making a person feel afraid they’ll be attacked or bitten – ‘reasonable apprehension’

In 2014 the Act was amended, extending these rules to private property – be it your home or another’s home. This includes any garden areas.


Is it illegal for my dog to protect me from an intruder?

A guard dog sitting on a rock on a property

In the event your pooch acts in your defence and attacks an intruder within your private home, the law makes allowances for this.  

Strangely, this does not apply to your garden, so if your furry friend rushes to defend you in your own outdoor space, this would be an offence – you could even end up in court.


 Is it illegal for another dog to attack my dog?

According to the Dangerous Dogs Act, one pooch attacking another is not against the law – except in the instance of a canine attacking an assistance dog.

However, if an individual believes they would have been hurt, had they intervened to stop another canine injuring their own, a court may find grounds to prosecute.

In any event, if your four-legged friend is attacked by another pooch, report it to the police right away – you don’t want to take the chance of a repeat incident.

Protecting your pup with dependable cover is another safeguarding measure all owners must take; if your pooch gets injured or falls ill, veterinary bills could become overwhelming.

Too busy? Try Go Get It’s pet insurance comparison service – we do the hard work for you.

A dog chewing a lace of a shoe

How can I ensure I’m following the law?

Every dog is different, with a different personality and a different background.

Some breeds are naturally wary of strangers; some don’t play well with other dogs; some rescue pups may have been through significant trauma.  

Work around your pooch’s specific needs, taking smart steps to avoid unpleasant situations and keep everyone safe:


Manage risks

Dog owners form deep bonds with their mutts, getting to know their unique characters as they grow.

Over time you’ll learn what your canine does and doesn’t like, so you can tailor your approach accordingly, minimising the risk of your pooch becoming agitated or aggressive.

For example, if your dog has a strong reaction to strangers approaching the home, consider using reward-based training to counter-condition your canine.

Every time the doorbell rings, use a well-known cue such as ‘go to your bed’ or ‘lie down’ to distract your pup, rewarding compliance.

This will distract your dog from the primary source of distress and helps form positive associations with the stressor.

If you have an outdoor space, make sure it’s doggy-proof, with secure fencing and a locked entrance.

This keeps your dog safely confined and minimises the chance of trespassers entering, potentially suffering injuries for which you could be liable.

A dog looking out of the window of a door inside a house

Create a sanctuary

Even if you feel your pooch can interact calmly with guests, always assess whether your pup seems comfortable and happy in their surroundings.

Give your furball a private space to retreat to, for peace and quiet.

Take extra care when children are visiting, as little ones can be less predictable.

Dogs may become confused by children’s body language: being grabbed, stroked roughly, squeezed or stared at up close can be alarming to pups.

Canines may misinterpret children’s behaviour and become defensive in response, so keep extra nervous pooches in a different part of the house when unfamiliar kids are about.


Responsible training

Whether or not your dog has behavioural issues, do your best to ensure they know basic cues, as this will help you to keep them controlled in public areas – and at home.

Cues such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ can calm anxious dogs, distracting them when stressors crop up.

If you’re concerned that things are getting out of hand, it might be time to seek guidance from a dog trainer.

Improving your pooch’s obedience skills improves safety and combats problem behaviour.

An owner training a puppy on a leash outdoors

Protecting your dog

Owning a dog is an invaluable experience. Our lovable furballs shower us with unconditional love, providing countless hours of fun and affection.

No matter what kind of pooch you own, it’s essential to keep them safe.

Keeping a close eye on other canines, managing risks and carrying out thorough training is worthwhile, but, sadly, you never know what’s around the corner.

You can’t predict when accidents or illness might occur, so don’t take the chance.

Getting first-rate insurance for your dog helps to maintain their quality of life and eases the financial strain on you – vet bills can quickly stack up.

As the UK’s only dedicated pet insurance comparison site, Go Get It specialises in finding reliable cover suited to you, your pet and your budget – you’ll be in safe hands with us.

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