Playing by the rules

Once upon a time we lived in a little development inhabited by lovely people. Except one. Not that he hated dogs per se, I think he simply needed anger management classes. He occasionally barked at people and eventually got to yell at me, too. On that occasion Coop spotted a friend of mine he was fond of… So the boy expressed his undying love through woofing.

She didn’t mind, I wasn’t insanely happy about it, but the sun was shining and we were about to have lunch, so a little noise was as ordinary as the life itself. The pup turned the sound off as soon as we greeted the girl and started a conversation.

Sadly, we got interrupted by a screaming man running towards me, cursing and saying how much he wished both my dog and I were dead. To his disappointment it wasn’t the case, so he proceeded to threaten me with reporting us to the council.

Long story short, he didn’t. More over it turned out that the source of the noise he found annoying came from a different household entirely. As in “two streets away” kind of entirely.

Even tough it wasn’t our fault, I returned home shaking. The incident happened a few short months after we lost Oscar and I was still a recovering mess of heartache and tears. The prospect of somebody reporting Coop and potentially losing him was frightening.

So I got onto the council website and realised that the threats were completely senseless. Soon after we moved away leaving all the negativity behind.

However, this particular event made me really look into dog laws in the UK. There aren’t many (hey, result – this blog post is not going to take a lifetime to read!), but I think it is very important to know and follow them.

FIVE FREEDOMS or the Animal Welfare Law

All UK dog parents are legally obliged to ensure that they take care of their dog’s welfare needs.

Often refereed to as “Five Freedoms” these are based on 2006 Animal Welfare Act (Section 9) and include:

… providing a suitable environment

… feeding wholesome and appropriate diet

… ensuring that the dog is able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns

… housing the dog with, or apart from, other animals

… ensuring that the is free from pain, injury, disease, and suffering

Dog owners who fail these can be prosecuted and face either a prison sentence for up to 6 months or a fine of up to £20000.


A failure to meet the above rules or intentionally hurting a dog can lead to prosecution for up to 6 months or a fine of up to £20000.


Under the Control of Dogs Order 1992, all dogs visiting public places must wear a collar with a name and address of the owner (plus a non-mandatory telephone number), either on the collar or on an attached tag.

The rule does not apply to dogs registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association; any dogs used in emergency rescue work or on official duties by a member of HM Armed Forces, HM Customs and Excise or the police; any dog while being used for driving or tending cattle or sheep; any dog used for the capture or destruction of vermin; any dog used for sporting purposes; any pack of hounds.


It is a legal requirement for all dog owners to have their dogs microchipped and registered with a database by the time the puppies are eight weeks of age. The breeders need to register themselves as the first puppy keepers. It is new owners responsibility to update the database information once they collected the puppy from the breeder.


The practice of tail docking was seised in 2007 under the Docking of Working Dogs Tails (England) Regulations 2007 and Docking of Working Dogs Tails (Wales) Regulations 2007. These come with exceptions for working dogs (which must be proven) and certain breeds. The tail can also be docked for medical reason. However, show cocker spaniels born in the UK always keep their tails as nature intended.


At the moment these are technically allowed in England, but are banned in Wales. Even though the agreement to ban them in England hasn’t been achieved yet despite numerous campaigns and efforts, it goes without saying that these devices cause nothing but pain and fear in dogs and as such should be seeing as animal cruelty.


It is our responsibility as dog parents to ensure that the dog behaves in public including public places, your own house and garden, your neighbours house or garden or any private places that do not belong to you, and does not create a situation when he either injures a person or makes somebody worried that he might injure them.

Additionally, the dog should be prevented from attacking somebody’s animal (dog or otherwise) or making the owner of an animal thing they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog from attacking their animal.

The penalty is either an unlimited fine or imprisonment for up to 6 months or both. An injury to an assistance dog may increase the sentence to up to 3 years with an additional fine.

If the other side and parties believe that the dog is dangerously out of control, he may be destroyed and you may not be allowed to ever have a dog in the future.

If the dog injured a person his owner may be sent to prison for up to 5 years, face a fine or both. Using the dog to deliberately injure somebody can be charged with “malicious wounding”.

If the dog kills somebody, his owner will be sentenced for up to 14 years or get an unlimited fine.

If the dog causes damage to any form of property that does not belong to you, you may be liable to cover the costs under the Animals Act 1971. Most pet insurances have this clause included.

Additionally, under the Highway Code the dogs must not be let out on the road on his own. All dogs must be kept on a short lead when walking on the pavement, road or path shared with cyclists or horse riders.


It is forbidden for the dog to worry or chase livestock, flush game birds, or disturb wild life on one’s land. If the farmer believes that your dog is creating a stressful situation or can potentially injure his animals, he is allowed to kill the dog.

However, the laws that protect public rights of way including public footpath and bridleways, do not impose any rules about how dog owners should behave whilst on the path/bridleway. There is also no legal requirement for dogs to be on a lead or under control in sensitive situations or near the live stock. But the rules only protect the walkers if the dog owners and their dogs stick to the legally approved path or route. If the dog runs into the field or land off the public path, he can fall into the Dogs and Livestock part of the Dogs in Public Places Law.

The dogs should also be kept on a lead of no more than 2m in length when near the live stock, farm animals or ground-nesting birds between 1 March and 31 July each year. There is no definition to the distance between the dog and the livestock and there is no criminal offence for those dog owners who break the rules, however, those owners may be temporarily denied the right to walk in these areas.


Under the Dogs (Fouling on Land) Act 1996 and The Clean Neighbourhoods & Environment Act 2005 any person in charge of a dog in public areas must clean up after his pet. A failure to do so can make the person guilty of offence of subject to a fine.

The Act does not apply to land used for agriculture, woodlands, marshland, moor or heath, urban common land, and carriage way where the speed limit is over 40 miles per hour.

Even though there is no law to cover this, it is important that anyone cleans after their dog when walking in the country side and farmland, especially during the lambing and cattling season. The dog faeces contain certain neosporosis and sarcocytosis that can lead to abortions in cattle and death in sheep if the animals come in contact with faeces though grass, feed, water or bedding.

Some councils can now issue a fine of up to £100 if they can prove that you did not carry spare poo bags when walking your dog even if you have one in your hand but it’s already filled with poop. No spare bag – you get fined. The rule only applies to certain areas. If in doubt, check your local council’s website for additional information.


Even though you are extremely unlikely to meet Lupo, the cocker, or any other Royal pooch when out and about, it is considered an offence for your own cocker to consummate a relationship with a pet from the royal house unless you have their permission to do so. If your dog has a secret affair without notifying you first, you will be fined.


Under the Highway Code if you travel with a dog in your car, he must not be nuisance or distraction to the driver in any way during the journey.

The dog should be suitable restrained with a seat belt harness, pet carrier, crate or dog guard or any other appropriate way whilst you are driving to prevent injuries to themselves, the driver or passengers, if the car stops quickly.

Having an unrestrained dog in the vehicle may result in a fine of up to £2500.


Dogs bark because they need to communicate but don’t speak human. I bet they’d speak English to express their thoughts if they could, but alas, woofing is the only option.

Most barking is considered natural and not a Statutory Nuisance, so there is no need to be concerned unless the barking “unreasonably and sensationally interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises or injure health or become likely to injure health” meaning that…

… the barking continues for long periods of time;

… the barking is frequent and excessive;

… the dogs bark very early in the morning or late at night, i.e. between 23:00 and 7:00

The dog and his owner can be reported to the council under Environmental Protection Act 1990, however the confirmation process can take weeks and months to collect the evidence including a barking diary.


It’s a heartbreaking topic to mention, but if you are in the UK, you cannot lay your dog to rest anyone but your own home. The house and land must be owned by you, not rented. You also need to have a confirmation from your vet proving that your dog is not hazardous to human health.


Lucy’s Law was introduced in April 2020 to ban third party puppy sales, such as puppy farms and puppy shops, in England. It means that anyone looking for a puppy should only get one from a reputable breeder who is able to show the puppies interacting with their mum at their place of birth.

The breeder must obtain and be able to show a breeding license from the local council. A failure to do so may lead to an unlimited fine or prison sentence. It is always best to walk away and look some place else if something does not feel right.

This law is not enforced in Wales.


Photo credit: image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s