Small Dog Home Boarding

When must a dog wear a collar

UK Dog Law

  • When must a dog wear a collar
  • What legislation do stray dogs come under?
  • What is the responsibility of a person finding a stray dog?
  • What are the powers of seizure, and rights of disposal?


The Control of Dogs Act 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, dogs used for the capture or destruction of vermin, dogs herding sheep or cattle, 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.

Dog ID Collars/Tags should include your postcode and contact number, 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, in order to keep the new address and contact details up to date, you should check that the rescue centre or original owner has already done this.  No owner can transfer a dog to a new owner until it has been microchipped, unless a certificate has been issued by a Vet, stating that the dog should not be microchipped for health reasons.

Microchipping alone is not enough; 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”.

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

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

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 permission of the land owner 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, this may be possible but there are procedures that have to be followed.  You will have to keep the dog for at least a month, make efforts towards locating the owner, only then if the owner has not been found may you be allowed to keep the dog or sell the dog.  You can at any point give the dog to the Dog Wardens if you feel the responsibility is too much and change your mind about keeping it, this must be done within the time period of searching for the owner, you cannot decide to give it back 2 years later.

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.

Example.  One of my dogs has escaped the garden and caused traffic chaos at the junction at the bottom of the road.  I am unaware that the dog is missing.  I am eventually tracked down by the dog wardens who have my dog at their facility.  I go down to collect the dog, and I am fined, lectured and advised that if this happens again I could find myself in court.