UK Dog Law – What You Need To Know

uk dog law
As a dog owner you need to know what is required of you by law, to ensure the safety of you, your dog and others around you. There are numerous laws pertaining to dogs (24 to be precise) and more that cover animals in general. There are also a further 15 statutory orders and regulations regarding animals, all of which are currently in force.

Here are the ones you (as a pet dog owner) need to know:

Dog Law - The Down & Dirty!
  • As of April 2016, all dogs will need to be microchipped
  • Your dog is required to wear a collar and tag (regardless of whether it is microchipped) with your name, address & postcode (tel. no is optional)
  • It is an offence to walk your dog, off-lead, on or by the side of a designated road
  • If your dog jumps up on someone they can now report it and you could go to court
  • If your dog attacks someone on your private property they can now report it and you could go to court
  • If your dog attacks a service dog it is regarded as an ‘aggravated offence’ and you could go to prison
  • If your dog attacks a person it is regarded as an ‘aggravated offence’ and you could go to prison
  • A dog doesn’t have to bite to be deemed dangerous in the eyes of the law
  • If your dog causes someone to feel threatened, you could be prosecuted


As of April 2016, all dogs not currently chipped will need to be microchipped and registered with a database compliant with the new regulations. All new puppies will need to be chipped by 8 weeks of age (by the breeder) and it will be the responsibility of the new owner to update the details when they take ownership of the puppy.

>>Microchipping Info<<

Strict Liability

The Animals Act 1971 makes a “keeper” of a dog strictly liable for damage caused by the dog in certain circumstances. A person is a “keeper” of a dog if they own it or have it in their possession. The Animals Act is very complicated and and such, the best course of action is to have control over your dog at all times. It is also advisable to have third party insurance.

>>Animals Act 1971<<

Collar & Tag

The Control Of Dogs Order 1992 requires dog owners to ensure their dog is wearing a collar and tag. The tag must include the owner’s name and address (including postcode). Telephone number is optional, but advisable. Unfortunately, dog theft is becoming more common and so it is recommended that you don’t put your dog’s name on the tag, as it allows a thief to easily sell the dog to new owners, whilst making it look like they own the dog because it responds to it’s name.

You can be fined if you dog is found with an I.D. tag (currently up to £5000).

Certain dogs are exempt from having to wear a collar with a dog tag. They are:

  • Any dog registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
  • Any dog while being used in emergency rescue work.
  • Any dog while being used on official duties by a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, HM Customs and Excise or the police.
  • Any dog while being used for driving or tending cattle or sheep.
  • Any dog while being used for the capture or destruction of vermin.
  • Any dog while being used for sporting purposes.
  • Any pack of hounds.

>>Control Of Dogs Act 1992<<

Out of control

According to…

…It’s against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, such as:

  • in a public place
  • in a private place, eg a neighbour’s house or garden
  • in the owner’s home

The law applies to all dogs.

Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:

  • injures someone
  • makes someone worried that it might injure them

A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if either of the following apply:

  • 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



That means that if your dog jumps up at someone or barks at someone and causes them to feel worried, they can report the incident. If your dog attacks someone in your home (previously exempt from the dangerous dogs act), including front or back garden, you can be taken to court.

Should you ever need a lawyer specialising in law related to dogs, then contact >>Cooper & Co. Solicitors<<

Further information regarding the Dangerous Dogs Act (which applies to ALL dogs) and dog law in general, can be found here:

Dog Law: Dog on Dog

The current legislation doesn’t cover dog-animal interactions, just dog-human ones. This means if your dog is attacked by another dog, you will need to prosecute privately (to cover vet bills etc). The court may also rule that the offending dog be muzzled in public.

If you let your dog off-lead, please respect other dogs that are still on-lead and recall your dog. They may be on-lead for a reason i.e. recovering from illness/surgery, reactivity to other dogs, nervousness etc, and need their space.

Just because you think your dog is friendly, don’t assume (or cast judgement) that everybody else’s dog wants to, or is happy to play.

Videos - Dog Law

A great video from the National Animal Welfare Trust explaining the most important recent changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act (and they affect ALL dog owners, regardless of breed).


Disclaimer: All information contained within this page is to the best of my knowledge correct, but if in doubt, consult a lawyer with relevant experience:

>>Cooper & Co. Solicitors<<

>>Parry, Welch & Lacey Solicitors<<

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