Get the facts
Becoming a dog owner
A dog should be a fun part of any household it comes into. Millions of dogs are enjoyed as pets in this country, but looking after your dog is an extremely important job. Before getting a dog, you should always think about the breed of dog you want:
- Gender - you may not want to breed dogs, so consider its gender carefully and think about neutering.
- Size - a larger dog will not only eat and exercise more, it might be harder to control in public if untrained.
- Time - if you have a busy life and don't spend much time at home, your dog could suffer.
- Care - different types of dog need different amounts of walking, food and grooming.
The RSPCA sets out the five freedoms every dog is entitled to, which now forms the basis of animal welfare law:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst - enough food and water to keep them fit and healthy.
- Freedom from discomfort - the right kind of shelter and comfortable resting place.
- Freedom to behave normally - enough space and the chance to meet other dogs.
- Freedom from fear and distress - their living space and treatment is good enough that they will not suffer mentally.
- Freedom from pain, injury & disease - protection from illness and the proper treatment if there is a problem.
To find out more about animal welfare, visit the RSPCA website. Or for information about dog re-homing visit the Dog Trust site. Both are welfare organisations and do not deal with dog attacks on people.
There is a trend among a small minority of young people to own what is referred to as a status dog. This is a dog that they think gives them more influence and greater respect because their dog is big or vicious. But there is a reason that these dogs might be more aggressive such as:
- their owners mistreat them
- sometimes they kick, beat or even stab them
- some status dogs end up being abandoned or left for dead
- sometimes the dog is made to hang from branches by its teeth to strengthen its jaw
It is an incredibly cruel way to treat a dog and is not deserving of respect; it is a fashion that has to stop.
For more information on status dogs and how to help the RSPCA's campaign against this practice, visit the RSPCA website
Illegal dogs are not the only types of dangerous dogs. A dangerous dog can be:
- any breed of dog no matter how big or small, which isn't kept under control
- any dog that shows signs of aggression or threatening behaviour to people or other dogs, including biting, growling, mauling and snapping
In these cases, the police may prosecute too. If you have been a victim of a dangerous dog or maybe you know someone who has, there's plenty of help and support available
Four types of dog are illegal to own, breed, sell or give away in the UK:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Japanese Tosa
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro
Illegal possession of one can result in a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months' in prison and the police can, and do, prosecute.
For more information you can read section one of the Dangerous Dog Act 1991.
- Dangerous dogs and the law
- More help and advice about dangerous dogs
- Have you been attacked or threatened by a person with a dangerous dog?
- Has your friend been attacked or threatened by a person with a dangerous dog?
- Are you being pressured by friends to get a dangerous or illegal dog?