Understanding your legal responsibilities:
There is a lot to consider when taking on a dog in particular asking yourself if you have sufficient space and time to give your dog the exercise it needs. Consulting a dog trainer before you acquire a dog can save time and heartache in the long run as they can advise you on the breed of dog that most suits your lifestyle.
For us, having to walk our dog regularly was one of the benefits and motivations for getting a dog. We are certainly leaner and fitter since Maisie came into our lives. And there are clear mental health benefits; even in the rain - one sight of the lead and her excitement knows no bounds, so you just have to join in the fun. Their thirst for life, their sense of fun and energy can be infectious and helps release those health-giving endorphins.
As a responsible dog owners, we all need to think about ways to keep ourselves and our dogs safe, so I am committed to sharing my top tips over the next few weeks.
Understanding your legal responsibilities
Dog behaviour: It is a criminal offence for the owner of a dog to allow it to be ‘dangerously out of control’. This is essentially to prevent harm, but it also includes incidents where someone has reasonable grounds for thinking that a dog may hurt or injure them, for example chasing, barking or jumping up at an adult or child.
It is a legal requirement to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals on ‘open access’ land. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals. Between 1 March and 31 July, dogs should be kept on a short lead to protect nesting birds in some of our woodlands.
Lucky Dog DACHSHUND tag
Dog Tags: It is vitally important to be able to identify your dog should they go missing but did you know it is also a legal requirement? The Control of Dogs Order 1992 requires that in a public place any dog must wear a collar with a pet tag bearing the name and address (including postcode) of the owner. It is advisable to put your phone number on the tag too, so someone can call should your dog go missing.
Companies like Lucky Dogs produce stylish and personalize dog breed tags www.luckydoguk.co.uk. Your local pet shop will also be able to offer advice on where to get the right tag for your dog
Walking in public spaces: While it is great to allow your dog to roam freely, there are times when it is essential, they are kept on a lead. This includes walking on land where livestock is present, in designated pedestrian zones and play parks.
Microchips: A microchip makes it much easier to reunite a dog with its owner. From April 2016, new laws mean it is compulsory for all dogs over the age of 8 weeks in England to be fitted with microchips. The owner’s details must also be kept up to date as failure to do so could result in a £500 fine.
Fouling: Dog mess is a nuisance and unpleasant but can also harbor diseases, including toxocariasis, which can affect young children as they are more likely to play in contaminated soils. Dog owners should clean up after their dog in a public place. Failure to do so can result in an on the spot fine or penalty of £1000 if taken to court.
It is also an offense to leave bags hanging from trees or by gates to ‘pick up on the way home’.
Our Barking Bags are available with extra-large pockets to you can carry the unmentionable stuff with you until you find somewhere to dispose of it safely and hygienically.
Dogs and cars: The Highway Code Rule 57 states
“When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard offer ways of restraining animals in cars.”
In the case of an accident or the need to make an emergency stop, a unrestrained dog could injure themselves or you. And however well behaved, there is always the chance that a dog could distract you and unintentionally cause an accident.
There are plenty of devises on the market to make securing your beloved pet easier. One quick search of the internet will help you find seat belt harness, carrier, cage or dog guard, better still, seek advice from your local pet retailer who will have all the best up-to-date information and advice.
Whilst Rule 57 does not outright state that dogs must be restrained in a particular way, it is clear that dogs must be suitably restrained; so if you are travelling with a dog that is not secured by one of these measures, they probably aren’t suitably restrained, and are breaking the law .
Some insurance companies are now warning that your car insurance may be compromised if you are found carrying an unrestrained dog in the car.
Dogs left in hot cars: We all know that leaving dogs in hot cars is dangerous but a study by experts in dog welfare at Nottingham Trent University has found temperatures inside cars are hot enough throughout the year to pose a risk to dog health, even in the winter when it is cold outside.
If you see a dog in distress what should you do and is it legal to smash a window?
The RSPCA says they try to respond if someone reports seeing a dog in distress but may not be able to attend quickly enough. However, with no powers of entry, it would need police assistance to get into a car without the owner's permission. In an emergency, it is best to dial 999 and report a dog in a hot car to police.
If the situation becomes critical and police are unable to attend, many people's instinct is to break into the car to free the dog. But please be aware that, without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage.
Carrying poo bags; Many people are not aware, but it is now a legal requirement to carry poo bags with you at all times. The Dog Fouling Act of 2016 places responsibility on "the person in charge of the dog".
If you are caught not picking up dog mess, this can result in a fine but in several parts of the country almost anyone walking a dog risks a fine if you do not have enough poo bags on you, even if it isn’t your dog.
*Anyone without a bag faces a fixed penalty notice of up to £100 or a fine of up to £1,000 if a case goes to court under rules that came into force in September.
That’s why we created our Barking Bags with special poo bags dispenser and as they are visible it is easy to spot that you have taken steps to carry bags at all times (we personally also keep a couple in the bag itself for emergencies).
* Those with disabilities with restricted vision or mobility are exempt from the fines and working dogs are unlikely to be penalised if they poo in a public place. Dog fouling regulations apply in most public places but not on common land, agricultural land and woodland
The basic message to take away from all of this is that the legislation is there to protect us, our dogs and our community, and they are easy to follow.
Laws and by-laws are changed and updated regularly. Keep up to date - don’t fall foul of the law.