UK Dog Law 3

UK Dog Law 3

UK Dog Law Part 3

  • Reasonable Care
  • Leash Laws
  • Accidents involving Dogs
  • Dog Fouling
  • PSPO’s
  • Motorway Driving

Reasonable Care

As the owner or carer of a dog, you need to exert Reasonable Care, especially when taking a dog for a walk, on or near a road.

The Highway Code Rule 56 explains;  A dog cannot be out on the road on its own, it MUST be in the care of an appropriate adult and kept on a short lead.A public highway meaning a Pavement, a Road or Path including Bridleways. Any place shared with the public, cyclists, horseriders etc.

Reasonable care taken from ( is:

the degree of caution and concern for the safety of himself/herself and others an ordinarily prudent and rational person would use in the circumstances. This is a subjective test of determining if a person is negligent, meaning he/she did not exercise reasonable care.

You should be aware of the laws, and also your dog’s behaviour.  You should have relevant knowledge and understanding. Quite a lot of responsibility.

The term ‘Reasonable Care’ is commonly used in law to give an indication of a standard allowing the variation of circumstances an element of flexibility.

A Level of care in specific circumstances is expected but not an absolute, therefore allowing for consideration not demanding a set criterion to be fulfilled.

An example would be; If your dog cuts his leg whilst on his morning walk, you have a duty of care towards your dog to keep him healthy.

Whilst you are expected to take the dog to a Vet, it would be advised that you also take a Canine First Aid course so you can be better prepared for emergencies. This would show reasonable care.

If your garden backs onto a road, you must ensure that the fence is adequate and escape-proof. This is reasonable care.
You would, however, be excused liability if your garden had a public right of access and a rambler left the gate open. This is the same for Sheep, Cattle and Horses.

Leash Laws

The Highway Code rule 56 says: Do not let a dog out on the road on its own. Keep it on a short lead when walking on the pavement, road or path shared with cyclists, horse riders, and pedestrians. This includes bridleways.

The Road Traffic ACT 1988 section 27 Control of Dogs on Road says: Anyone who allows a dog to be on a designated road without being held on a lead, is guilty of an offence. It specifies that all dogs should be kept under control by the owner, or whoever is in charge of the dog at that time. Reasonable care must be taken to ensure the dog does not cause injury or damage by straying onto a road.

The person walking a dog must also be deemed able to control it. For example, A 50kg Rottweiler escapes from the control of a 5-year-old child and causes a road accident. As the keeper of the dog in this instance is a child, the parent would be liable as reasonable care had not been taken to prevent the dog from escaping.

Exemptions to leash laws: It does not apply to any pack of hounds, or any dog being used for sporting purposes. Any dog being used for the capture or destruction of vermin. Any dog while being used for the herding of cattle or sheep. Any dog being used in rescue work, or any dog registered with the guide dog for the blind association. Any dog while being used on official duties by a member of the police or armed forces.  However, the dog must be actively engaged in this duty at the time, and not just out for a walk with his owner.

Accidents involving Dogs

If you hit a dog with your car, you must stop, try to locate the owner or contact the police. If a member of the public or the owner asks you for your name, address and contact details in relation to the incident, you must tell them. If you do not give your details you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours.

You must do this whether the animal was killed or injured or not, and you must do this for Dogs, Horses, Cattle, Pigs, Goats, Sheep, Donkeys and Mules……….But this does not apply to Cats!
There are exclusions to the rules which are dependent on the vehicle classification. Exceptions under Section 189 of the Highways act are:

Mechanically propelled vehicles for the purpose of cutting grass controlled by a pedestrian, and not capable of modification for another purpose. E.g. a lawnmower
Any propelled vehicle controlled by a pedestrian as stated under section 140 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. (E.g.
Electric bicycles as per the regulation and power output) including mobility scooters.
If the dog is carried within or on the propelled vehicle

Dog Fouling
We have a Legal duty to clean up after our dog unless you are registered blind of course. So you are duty-bound to pick up any mess your dog leaves in all public spaces.  This is to stop the spread of disease.  Failing to do so can lead to an on the spot fine, which can cost £75 and you could be taken to court if you persist.In court, you can face up to £1000 fine plus legal expenses.

Dog Faeces can carry parasites which can cause the spread of disease, some of these infectious parasites can carry harmful infections to humans like Toxocariasis. (NHS UK) says: 

“Toxocariasis is a rare infection caused by roundworm parasites. Humans can catch it from handling soil or sand contaminated with infected animal faeces. Roundworm parasites are most commonly found in cats, dogs and foxes, and usually affect young children. This is because children are more likely to come into contact with contaminated soil when they play and put their hands in their mouths. However, cases have been reported in people of all ages”.

Some spaces are exempt from liability these include Agricultural Land, Woodland, Rural Common Land, Marshland and Heathland, and on highways with a speed limit of 50mph or over.
Bins are provided by the council for you to place the used bag into, However, where there are no bins available, you are to carry the bag(s) home with you and put it into your own dustbin.

Estimates put the UK dog population between 6.5 and 7.4 million, producing 1,000 tonnes of faeces every day says Keep Britain Tidy.

PSPO (public space protection order)

Under recent legislation, the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Local authorities were passed powers to produce Public Space Protection Orders; these include Dog Control and behaviour.
Parks and recreational areas, Shopping Centres stipulate that dogs must be kept on a lead at all times.
Other orders include No more than 4 dogs walked at a time, clear up any faeces, and carry poo bags.  Do not enter certain parts of the area, like a play park.

The Public Space Protection Orders are usually found in parks, and places where there are children and a high volume of people, it also includes Farmland.
These spaces are well signed at the entrance.
Local councils must let the public know where PSPOs are in place. This information is usually found on their website.
If dogs are not allowed in a park, there must be signs saying so.
If the council plans to put a new PSPO in place, They must put up a notice and publish it on their website.  It will tell you where the PSPO will apply and show you a map of the area.

For not adhering to these PSPO’s you can be fined £100 on the spot (a ‘Fixed Penalty Notice’) or up to £1,000 if it goes to court.

There are exemptions to the order;
It does not apply to any pack of hounds, or any dog being used for sporting purposes. Any dog being used for the capture or destruction of vermin. Any dog while being used for the herding of cattle or sheep. Any dog being used in rescue work, or any dog registered with the guide dog for the blind association. Any dog while being used on official duties by a member of the police or armed forces.  However, the dog must be actively engaged in this duty at the time, and not just out for a walk with his owner.

Motorway Rules

Reasonable Care is required when driving with a Dog(s) in your car; they must be suitably restrained in a dog harness, crate, or a Dog Guard between you and them so as to avoid any distractions, injury to yourself or the dog(s) if you have to stop suddenly. (Rule 57 of The Highway Code).

If you are driving along a Motorway towing a Horse trailer or a large vehicle transporting animals, you cannot use the Right Hand Lane. Your maximum speed limit is 60mph.

If your car breaks down on the Motorway and you have animals/dogs in the car, you must NOT let them out of the car. Unless directed to do so by a police officer. If you are involved in an accident they must be properly restrained if removed from the vehicle and must stay on the side of the road out of the way of traffic until help comes.

(The Motorways Traffic (England & Wales) Regulations 1982), section 14, contains the rules governing the handling of animals on motorways.
Under this act, it is an offence to remove or permit an animal to leave a vehicle whilst the vehicle is on the motorway.  It is also an offence to allow the dog to escape from the vehicle, or be removed from the vehicle. If the vehicle needs to be evacuated for safety reasons The dog must be kept only on the motorway verge, on a suitable lead under proper control whilst you wait for assistance.

(Liam Deacon) (12.4.2019) wrote in (The Daily Star) ‘Pet dog dies after ‘leaping from car window on M5 motorway’ Sadly the owner had the dog in the front seat, unsecured and the window of the car was open, the dog jumped out whilst they were traveling at speed and was killed by oncoming traffic.

The rules apply to all animals, including those being towed on a trailer, like livestock or horses. Any person in charge and responsible for the animals at the time of an incident must obey the rules. Failure to comply is a criminal offence.
Animals being herded on a road or country lane should be kept under control at all times. Ideally with someone at the front of the herd warning oncoming traffic and someone at the back keeping the herd moving forward.  It is best to herd during daylight hours but if you have to do it when it is dark, wear reflective clothing. The person at the front should hold a white light and the person at the back should use a red one so that any traffic can see them from both directions.  For more information see Rule 58 of the Highway Code

UK Dog Law 3

UK Dog Law 2

UK Dog Law Part 2


  • ID Collars
  • Stray Dogs

ID Collars 

The Control of Dogs Order 1992 says that every dog, whilst in a public place or on a highway, shall wear a collar with ID inscribed on the collar or badge attached to it.
This does not include dogs while being used for sporting purposes, or dogs used for the capture or destruction of vermin. Dogs herding sheep or cattle, or any dog being used by the police, customs, or the army.  Any dog being used for search and rescue and any dog registered with the guide dogs for the blind association are also exempt.  But only whilst they are in the line of duty.  The Law still applies to these dogs when they are not at work. 

Dog ID Collars/Tags should include your postcode and contact number. For my business, I use collars with my business name and phone number embroidered on them. 

(The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015) mean that from 6 April 2016, every dog that is older than 8 weeks must be microchipped. 

Breeders must ensure that their puppies are microchipped before they leave for their new home. 

When you purchase or re-home a dog the new owner must inform the database company who have the microchip details. 

You should check that the rescue centre or original owner has done this. 

No owner can transfer a dog to a new owner until it has been microchipped.  or unless a certificate has been issued by a Vet, stating that the dog should not be microchipped for health reasons. 

You still need to use an ID collar or Tags if you are out and about.  

My local Council says on their website: 

“Every dog must wear a collar with the name and address of its owner attached to it whilst out on a public highway.
Having the correct identification means that if your dog strays, it can be returned to you quickly.
If the Council catches a stray dog and the owner can’t be traced, the dog will be kept in boarding kennels at the owner’s expense. If the dog is not collected within seven days, it could be re-homed, sold or destroyed. 
Owners of dogs without identification can be fined up to £5000.
If your dog is collected you will be charged and fines or kennels costs before it is returned. As it is an offence to allow a dog to stray, owners of persistently straying dogs may be prosecuted”. 

Stray Dogs 

Dogs found wandering around without a visible owner on a public highway is classed as stray. 

A public highway is any public road or public right of way, any public place including shopping centres, parks, resorts and bridleways, 

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 section 68 removes the responsibility of the police for dealing with stray dogs.
It repeals section 3 of the Dogs Act 1906, which enabled the police to seize and detain stray dogs. 

This is now the responsibility of the Local Councils. 

The police still have powers to seize and detain stray dogs under the Dogs Protection of Livestock Act 1953. 

Legislation covering Stray Dogs is also covered in:  Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Environmental Protection (Stray Dogs) Regulations 1992 the Control of Dogs Order 1992.’ 

Any Dog without its owner and not under the control of anyone can be seized and detained as a stray dog by the Council Dog Warden. 

‘Where a Warden finds a dog in a public place, a dog he believes to be stray, he can seize and detain it. However, if the dog is on private land the Warden must first get the permission of the landowner or occupier of the premises. 

If you find a stray dog, you cannot take that dog home and keep it for your own, nor can you sell the dog or give it away.  You need to first check for a collar and any Identification on or attached to it and return it to the owner. 

If there is no ID, you should contact the local Council Dog Wardens; they will scan the dog for a Microchip and attempt to contact the owners,
The Dog Wardens will take the dog to their kennels and keep it for 7 days before re-homing, selling or destroying the dog. 

There is a dog seized register which can be viewed at your local council
Stray Dogs cannot be sold for vivisection
Should you wish to keep a stray dog, you must ask the Dog Wardens.  In some circumstances, this may be possible but there are procedures that have to be followed. 

I found an interesting discussion on (The Digital Spy) (31.7.2008) [online] (public forum) where a man had been prosecuted and fined in a magistrate’s court for his dog straying multiple times and having no ID Collar. The man was fined £600 The discussion itself shows a variety of different opinions and some even regarding the law on ID Collars as another way of making money.


UK Dog Law 3

UK Dog Law 1

Some Questions answered:


The difference between civil law and criminal law

Civil law incurs no criminal record. It is a case of Liability, brought by an individual or an organisation.
Criminal law can incur a criminal record and is brought to court by the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service). It is a case of “Guilty or Not Guilty,”

How does the law define ownership of a dog?

Ownership of a dog is defined by who is feeding and caring for the dog and where it usually resides.  Microchipping and Pet Insurance are not enough to prove ownership. I am a Licensed Dog Home Boarder and the dogs I look after, that are in my care, (even though I do not own them),  I am classed as their keeper and I am responsible for the dog’s welfare and behaviour. In-Law the Keeper of the Dog and the Owner of the Dog can be different people.

What does Strictly Liable mean? Animals Act 1971 
Strict Liability does not depend on whether there is any intention or negligence on the keeper’s part.  If damage is caused, you are strictly liable.  Where damage is concerned, negligence does not have to be proven.

If you are walking a dog lets say off the lead  and it runs over to another dog, who is on a lead, and starts a fight, in the process the owner of the on lead dog gets bitten. You are strictly liable for the incident.

How is negligence determined?

Negligence does not have to be determined; if damage is caused then negligence is present. As with the example above.  If you are aware that your dog has the potential or inclination to harm another person and cause injury or fear and you do not take precautions to protect the public, you are negligent.

What are the possible exceptions to liability?

If the person who is affected by the damage “injury” is deemed to be completely to blame for the damage. provoking a dog to bite you for instance.
If the person sustaining the damage voluntarily ‘accepted the risk’. For example.  The person had full knowledge of the dog’s behaviour beforehand.
Animals kept on-premises or in a structure where the person who sustained the damage was trespassing.  So if a Trespassers such as a burglar was entering your home without permission, with the intent of committing a crime, and your Dog attacked them, there would be no case to answer.  The  Burglar would, however, need to be inside or partly inside your home.  Your Garden and even your car are now classed as a public place. If on the other hand, you ordered your dog to Attack a Trespasser you would be charged with a criminal offence, such as malicious wounding and as a result, quite a long prison sentence can be expected.