Dangerous dogs

Dangerous dogs and the law

Your dog, your responsibility

Every dog owner, by law, must look after it properly and ensure its welfare needs are met. If you don't you could have your dog taken off you and be prosecuted. You could be fined and banned from owning animals in the future. As an owner, you are responsible for:

  • ensuring you meet the dog’s welfare needs
  • keeping your dog under control
  • putting a tag on the dog’s collar with your contact details (in case it gets lost)
  • cleaning up after your dog in public
  • from April 2015 ensuring your dog is microchipped

You must ensure you care for your dog properly and meet its welfare needs. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 requires all those who care for pets to meet their welfare needs. The RSPCA sets out the five freedoms every dog is entitled to, which now forms the basis of animal welfare law:

  • a suitable place to live
  • a healthy diet including fresh clean water
  • ability to behave normally
  • appropriate company, including to be, with or apart from other animals
  • protection from pain, suffering, injury or disease

If you are concerned about the welfare of any dog, call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 and report it.

If you're worried that your dog or a dog you know is difficult to control, there is help out there. Often help and advice either from a qualified behaviourist or trainer can solve the problem. However make sure you go to the right people for advice - some people call themselves trainers and behaviourists but their methods are out of date, can be bad for your dog, or even make matters worse. For more information, consider getting in touch with:

When might the police get involved?

In most circumstances, help and advice from professionals and/or animal welfare charities can ensure dogs and people live safely and happily in communities.  However there are some situations which are serious enough for the police to become involved:

  • someone is not looking after their dog properly or is being cruel or fighting it
  • possessing a banned type of dog (i.e. pit bull terrier) that is not exempted -)
  • breeding from, selling, abandoning or giving away a banned type of dog
  • allowing your dog to be dangerously out of control (your dog does not always have to injure anyone, it can just make someone worried or scared that it might)

Controls for irresponsible dog owners

Local authorities, housing providers and the police have a new range of orders where they can require people to take certain actions. These can be used where people are using dogs as part of anti-social behaviour. If you are worried about any issues relating to irresponsible dog ownership, there is plenty of help and support available. Visit our page ‘More help and advice’.