Responsible Dog Ownership

Thinking of buying a dog?

Find out what you need to know about choosing the right one for you and your family.

Owning a dog brings a great deal of enjoyment but also carries with it many responsibilities. Dogs can be dangerous and a nuisance in many ways. Dog owners can do much to reduce the risks:

Dog security

It is your responsibility to ensure that your dog is not able to stray from home. Stray dogs can cause road traffic collisions, attack and seriously injure children, worry livestock and foul land. If a dog appears to be straying, it may be picked up by the dog warden and taken to local kennels.

The Control of Dogs Order 1992 mandates that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner engraved or written on it, or engraved on a tag.

Out of control dogs

It is important to ensure that your dog is kept under proper control at all times.

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 states that any dog is dangerously out of control if:

  • it injures a person, or
  • it behaves in a way that makes a person worried that it might injure them.

The law applies everywhere including private property. A court can order the destruction of dogs found to be dangerously out of control.

Where dogs attack other dogs or cause a general nuisance, action can be taken under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2014 to ensure that dogs are kept under proper control.

Changes to Dangerous Dogs Legislation

The amended Dangerous Dogs Act came into effect in England and Wales on 13 May 2014. This applies to all dog owners no matter what size or breed.

Changes to the Act means dog owners can now face prosecution if their dog attacks a person in their home or on any private property, except if they attack a trespasser. The maximum sentences for allowing a dog to attack someone have also been increased.

The maximum prison sentences in England and Wales are now:

  • Up to 14 years, from two years, for a fatal dog attack
  • Up to five years, from two years, for injury
  • Up to three years if an assistance dog is attacked (Guide Dog, Hearing Dog etc)

The changes have also seen new preventative powers for the police and local authorities so they can act early to stop dog attacks before they occur. These measures include steps the dog owner can take to address their own or their dog’s behaviour, for example:

  • Attending dog training classes
  • Repairing fencing to their property to prevent the dog escaping
  • Requiring their dog to be muzzled in public places

Further measures to help tackle irresponsible dog ownership came into force in April 2016 when microchipping became a legal requirement for all dogs in England and Wales.

Dogs with children

Most dogs happily co-exist with children if they have lived with them from an early age. Unfortunately since 2005, a number of children in the UK have died following serious dog attacks. Many of these were in the home and perpetrated by the family pet.

It is important that children are taught to respect animals and not allow them to treat the pets as toys. Never leave a dog alone with children and always supervise interaction to ensure children do not tease or overexcite a pet.

Worrying of livestock

Dog owners have a responsibility to keep their pets under control at all times. All dogs should be on a close lead when walking anywhere near livestock.

The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 states that the owner, or any other person who is in charge of the dog at the time, will be guilty of an offence if the dog worries livestock on any agricultural land. The Animals Act 1971 empowers farmers to shoot dogs that are worrying sheep and there is no other means of preventing it.

Dog fouling

Dog faeces can carry a dangerous disease called Toxocariasis, which, although rare, can cause severe problems to children’s health, including blindness.

Dog fouling is an environmental crime and you could be given a fixed penalty notice for £50, or be fined up to £1,000 in court.

Prohibited dogs

The specific breeds/type of dogs that are banned in the UK are:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Japanese Tosa
  • Dogo Argentino
  • Fila Brazeliero

When assessing whether or not a dog is or is not a specific type, the police will also consider the cross breeding of dogs particularly Pit Bull types. It is possible that a cross bred dog has significant characteristics of the Pit Bull type and will be deemed to fall within section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

North Wales Police may seize your dog if we believe it is a prohibited type.

The maximum penalty for possessing a banned dog is a fine of £5,000, or six months’ imprisonment, or both.

Some of these dogs can be exempted from the ban, but only where a court gives permission for this. Further information regarding this exemption is available via the DEFRA website

This information has been provided by the North Wales Police Dog Section. If you would like to speak to one of the Force Dog Handlers for further advice please call 101, or contact your local authority Dog Warden.

Dog microchipping

10 million dogs, with 110,000 strays are dealt with each year, costing £57m to the taxpayer and animal charities.

Since April 2016 all dogs throughout England and Wales must be microchipped.

Having your pet microchipped is one of the best ways to increase its chance of getting home if lost or stolen. Unlike dog tags and collars, which can fall off or be removed, microchipping is a more permanent form of identifying your dog. But, the law also says that all dogs must wear a collar and tag, with their owners name, address and telephone number on it.

Many organisations are offering dog microchipping, including the Dogs Trust who are offering FREE dog microchipping.

To find your nearest free event please click here