& UK Dog Law Consultant


UK Dog Law

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, its covers damage to a person or object,  Damage also covers any physiological issues as a result of negligence, the latter which does not have to be proven,

Criminal law can incur a criminal record and is brought to court by the CPS it is a case of Guilty or Not Guilty, This is covered under the Dogs Act 1953 for the protection of Livestock, and if my dog attacked/Killed a sheep this would be a criminal act. A crime against society. Damage to property by a dog is not criminal.


How does the law define ownership of a dog


Ownership is defined by who is feeding and caring for the dog and if it is residing with you, this is enough to prove ownership, Microchipping, and Pet Insurance are not enough to prove ownership.  E.g. I am a Dog Boarder and the dogs I look after, that are in my care, even though I do not own them, whilst they are in my care, I am their keeper and am responsible for the dogs welfare and behaviour.


What does Strictly Liable mean Animals Act 1971


Liability does not depend on whether there is any intention or negligence on the keepers part, if damage is caused you are strictly liable.  Where damage is concerned, negligence does not have to be proven.


  How is negligence determined


Negligence does not have to be determined; if damage is caused then negligence is present.  In the case of Guard Dogs, if you display a sign saying Beware, you are admitting liability by not having the dog tethered or under your control at all times as you are aware the dog can cause harm to innocent people.

If you are aware your dog has an issue that isn’t the norm, and you do not take precautions knowing that a situation could arise, you are negligent.


What are the possible exceptions to liability



  • If the person who is affected by the damage is deemed to be completely to blame for the damage.


  • If the person sustaining the damage voluntarily ‘accepted the risk’ eg, the the person had full knowledge of the dogs behaviour before they accepted it.


  • Animals kept on premises or in a structure where the person who sustained the damage was trespassing.  This is only an exception if the dog was not kept on the property as protection, or , if it was kept for protection or guarding purposes , that this was deemed ‘reasonable’.  Eg, correct signage and in the case of guard dogs, correctly tethered.




How can we protect ourselves from liability where people trespassing onto our property


Signs on the Lockable gate/Double Entry Porch. that states, Dogs Loose, Please do not Enter,

Or Warning, Dogs running Free.  Do not use Guard Dogs signs or Beware of the Dog as you are admitting liability.


What does the Guard Dogs Act 1975 tell us regarding the proper control of guard dogs


Your Guard Dog must be tethered or with you under control at all times.


statutes that relate to trespassing and the protection of livestock


Dogs Act 1953 and Animal Act 1971


The rights of a landowner if he believes that a trespassing dog may injure his animals.


The farmer has the right to shoot your dog for straying on to his land where livestock is grazing whether the dog does anything or not.


You would also have to pay all the court costs should you be found liable by the court.


What is case law and how does it help shape the law for the future


Case law is where a court case has already been tried, you can look at the arguments and see the outcome and set this as a standard for other cases, either for or against the defendant, it would also help make new legislation should the same case details keep recurring from different people.