Your Puppy & The Law

Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953

Your dog must not worry (chase or attack) livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and poultry) on agricultural land, so keep your dog on a lead around livestock. If your dog worries livestock, the farmer has the right to stop your dog (even by shooting your dog in certain circumstances). 

Animals Act 1971

You could be liable for damage caused by your dog under this Act or under some degree of negligence. It is highly advisable to have third party liability insurance to cover this, something that is included in most pet and some household insurance policies.

The Road Traffic Act 1988

Dogs travelling in vehicles should not be a nuisance or in any way distract the driver during a journey. If a dog is injured in a car accident, the driver must stop and give their details to the person in charge of the dog. If there is no person in charge of the dog, the incident must be reported to the police within 24 hours.

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (section 3)

It is a criminal offence (for the owner and/or the person in charge of the dog) to allow a dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’​

The Control of Dogs Order 1992

This 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. Your telephone number is optional (but advisable).

Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997

The 1991 Act was amended by the Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997. The 1997 Act removed the mandatory destruction order provisions on banned breeds and re- opened the Index of Exempted Dogs for dogs which the courts consider would not pose a risk to the public. 

Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare Act) 1999 (applicable in England and Scotland)

Breeders who breed five or more litters per year must be licensed by their local authority. Breeders with fewer litters must also be licensed if they are carrying out a business of breeding dogs for sale.

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 - Under this Act, you could be fined up to £1,000 for breaching Dog Control Orders. Dog Control Orders were introduced by some local authorities for offences including: failing to remove dog faeces, not keeping a dog on a lead, not putting and keeping a dog on a lead when directed to do so, permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded and taking more than a specified number of dogs on to land.

Animal Welfare Act 2006 - responsibility & welfare of dogs within the UK - acts are available for each nation in the UK.  The Act increased and introduced new penalties to tackle acts of cruelty, neglect, mutilation, tail docking, animal fighting and giving pets as prizes.

The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010

In Scotland, the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 came into force in February 2011 and is enforced alongside
the Dangerous Dogs Act to tackle irresponsible dog ownership through the introduction of Dog Control Notices. The legislation also allows for prosecutions to be made in cases where an incident has occurred on private property, as well as in public places and removes any reference to a dog’s ‘size and power’ when determining whether or not it is out of control.

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 - Since October 2014, Dog Control Orders have been replaced by ‘Public Spaces Protection Orders’ introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The local authorities will have similar powers to introduce orders except there will be no requirements to advertise PSPO consultations in local newspapers.

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

The Government recently introduced legislative changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and introduced the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act

  • Extend section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 in order that it covers incidents that take place on private property (as well as in public places)

  • Remove the mandatory requirement for police to seize and kennel prohibited dogs which they do not consider to be of risk to the public

  • Introduce Control Orders to prevent incidences of dog aggression.

Compulsory mircochipping of dogs

It is now a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. All dogs must be microchipped by the time they are eight weeks of age and registered with a database compliant with the regulations.

Community Protection Notices and Byelaws on noisy animals

If your dog’s barking causes a serious nuisance to neighbours, the local authority can serve a noise abatement notice, or Community Protection Notice, which if unheeded can result in you paying fines and legal expenses

(updated Mar 2020)