Having a dog comes with a lot of responsibilities.
As well as training, feeding and caring for your four-legged family member, dog ownership involves much more than handling their day to day needs - and it could land you in trouble with the law if your pet misbehaves.
Out of control dogs
Owners have a duty of care to ensure that their dog is kept under control, and could face civil action if it has caused an injury to another person or dog.
It is against the law to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public or private space.
A dog is considered dangerously out of control if:
it injures someone
makes someone worried it might injure them
it attacks someone’s animal
the owner of an animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal
What if my dog bites somebody?
If a dog is known to bite others, or act in an aggressive way when startled, owners have a duty to ensure these acts are avoided.
Owners can be issued an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months, or both, if their dog is dangerously out of control, and may be restricted from owning a dog in the future. The dog may also be put down.
If you allow your dog to injure someone, you can receive a prison sentence for up to five years and fined,or both, and if you deliberately use your dog to injure someone, you could be charged with 'malicious wounding'.
If you allow your dog to injure someone, you can be sent to prison for up to 14 years or be issued with an unlimited fine, or both.
Owners who allow their dog to injure an assistance dog can be sent to prison for up to three years or fined, or both.
Is it a legal requirement for dogs to wear collars on walks?
Under the Control of Dogs Order 1992, any dog in a public place must wear a collar with a tag with the name and address of the owner engraved or written on it.
Certain dogs are exempt from having to wear a collar with a tag..
These include registered Guide Dogs, emergency rescue dogs and dogs that are part of the Armed Forces, HM Customs and Excise or the Police.
Some dog breeds are banned
In the UK, it is against the law to own certain types of dog. These are:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
It is also against the law to:
- sell a banned dog
- abandon a banned dog
- give away a banned dog
- breed from a banned dog
If you have a banned dog, the police or local council dog warden can take it away and keep it, even if it isn't acting dangerously - although the permission from a court may be required first.
A police or council dog expert will judge what type of dog you have and consider if it is, or could be, a danger to the public.
Based on this decision, your dog will either be released or kept in kennels while the police, or council, apply to a court.
If the case goes to court, it is your responsibility to prove your dog is not a banned type.
If you prove this, the court will order the dog to be returned to you.
If you cannot prove it, or plead guilty to owning a banned dog, you will then be convicted of a crime.
You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months, or both, for having a banned dog against the law, and your dog will also be destroyed.