UK Dog Law 1

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.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcement

 Positive Reinforcement


Positive reinforcement gives a Dog the opportunity to make his own decision. By re-enforcing something good like food, toys or praise for doing a specific behaviour.

Training Games can be used to modify a behaviour or to teach a completely new behaviour to a puppy. 

With Positive Reinforcement the idea is to add something good. The dog will learn that a good consequence will come from performing the desired behaviour you are trying to achieve and will be more likely to perform it.

If you are asking your dog to sit down he will be motivated to achieve the correct response if he knows he will be rewarded.

Richer Food Treats can be used for more complex tasks where you need to keep the focus for a longer period of time. The dog will need to be motivated so his normal food treats may not suffice.

Knowing your dog’s favourite reward is key to this, most dogs are food motivated, certainly Labradors. A Cocker Spaniel may prefer a toy reward such as a Ball. A French BullDog may be happy with a cuddle  

Using a clicker in conjunction with a treat will help mark the behaviour.   

Click then treat, the dog will come to associate the click with something good.  

You should not reward any other offered behaviours, like paw lifting. Extra behaviours should be ignored.  

Your Dogs rewards can be varied, sometimes a click, sometimes a treat, sometimes a cuddle and good boy. This will keep the dog listening and wondering when the next treat will come.

When then required behaviour is being performed comfortably,  you should vary the environment to proof the behaviour. Try performing the same behaviour in the Garden or in a place where there are more distractions.  

slowly introduce more distractions.  A higher/Tastier treat should be offered here to keep your dog motivated and focused on the task at hand so that the new behaviours can be generalised in different environments.