Dogs & The Law

Dog Training & Behaviour

There are several laws which govern the control of dogs with the most recent being the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 which was introduced following some high profile cases involving certain breeds of dogs primarily bred as fighting dogs. This has led to certain breeds and breed types to be banned but this act and the earlier Dogs Act 1871 has wider implications for you as a dog owner.

It’s against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control:

  • in a public place
  • in a private place (e.g. a neighbour’s house or garden)
  • in the owners home

The law applies to all dogs not just banned breeds.

The term out of control covers a much broader range of behaviour than you might think. In the eyes of the law your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:

  • injures someone so this could be through jumping up and causing them to fall over
  • makes someone worried that it might injure them so no actual injury has to take place merely the fear of injury

You may think this law only applies to human injury but in fact a  court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if:

  • it injures someone’s animal
  • the owner of the animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal

A farmer is allowed to kill your dog if it’s worrying their livestock.

There are penalties for you as an owner:

  • You can be fined up to £5,000 and/or sent to prison for up to 6 months if your dog is out of control. You may also not be allowed to own a dog in the future.
  • If you let your dog injure someone, you can be sent to prison for up to 2 years and/or fined.
  • If you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with ‘malicious wounding’. The maximum penalty is 5 years in prison.

Your dog could be seized and impounded whilst an investigation tales place and you will not be allowed contact with your dog or you could be issued with a control order meaning that your dog has to be muzzled and on lead in public at all times. The dog can be issued with a destruction order.

It is therefore more important than ever that owners take control of their dogs seriously and invest time into training and socialization to prevent themselves facing criminal proceedings and their dog paying the price with either its freedom or even its life.