Important rules, law, regulations every dog owner needs to know in the UK / Animal welfare act, lucys law, five freedoms for animals, nuisance barking / Perfect cocker spaniel dog blog (C) Natalia Ashton

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

Style outfit ideas for dog walking in fashion / Spring edition / Camel outfit ideas / Cashmere jumper, leather trousers, puff jacket, suede leather bag / Perfect cocker spaniel / pet blog (C) Natalia Ashton

Fashion guide to walking your dog in style | Summer edition

Not that it will be of any particular importance, but I am currenly 120 pages into one of many fabulous volumes on canine psychology, with the boys sleeping nearby and Hendel filling the room with very summery musical hues. A moment like this could not be more perfect for talking about an outfit idea inspired by romance, poetry and English cocker spaniels.

This was my other mood board idea for the editor of a mag I was in touch with a while ago. I adore this particular one because it feels like a journey into the past that connects the beauty, the dogs, the history and culture with the present embodied into a few items of clothing and accessories.

Summer style mood board inspired by nature love & flowers, raffia, straw, florals as seen at Dior, Prada, Valentino, McQueen, Chloe, Emilia Wickstead

So… “Pure Grace” that looks so simple yet comes with a vivid story, almost like a dream that flows. I started with Virginia Woolf and her book Flush, about an English cocker who belonged to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the Victorian poetess. Not only she had the spaniel, but her works were a perfect accompaniment to many collections and looks seen on the Spring/Summer catwalk.

The line for the subtitle, “The Gifts of Paradise” is taken from her poem, “The Lost Bower”, inspired by The Hope End, Browning’s childhood home. It talks about summer, country walks and nature, all the things you get to experience when sharing moments of your life with an adventurous dog like a cocker.

Curiously, this poem also talks about Chaucer, the “first finder of English language” and author of The Canterbury Tales, who included spaniels in the Wif of Bathe’s Prologue. Even though it was merely for comparison, this was the fist ever mention of the spaniels in English literature.

Phew! That’s all the facts for today. I hope you made it this far without falling asleep on your keyboard.

Style-wise, I was inspired by the spring/summer trend focused on nature, florals, raffia and airy volumes and the mix of alluring romance of the Victorian era and the Caribbean (where a part of the Barrett’s family were born).

The bottle of Bvlgari perfume I added to the mix is a part of Le Gemme Collezione Murano and made in Florence, the place where Browning, her husband and Flush lived for many years.

The colour scheme of the mood board and the outfit were chosen to compliment, so selfishly of me, the cover of my book Perfect cocker spaniel and my favourite portrait of Cooper by Sandra Chiocchetti.

And with this in mind, here is a look to try when taking your cocker out for a walk.

Summer outfit idea inspired by cocker spaniels, Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Browning, Flush the cocker, natural materials, fabrics, floral trends / featuring H&M, Chloe, Mango, Stories, Le Labo, BArc London, Astley Clarke / how to walk dog in style / country outfit ideas / Perfect cocker spaniel (C)

Shop: Blouse | Skirt | Boots | Earrings | Bracelets | Bag | Hat | Perfume | Bottle | Toy

In my head I pictured a long walk that didn’t necessarily involved muddy paws, just for once. I added a few extras to make it more comfortable and pleasant for both you and the pup, too. A beautiful water bottle to share a drink, a gorgeous little tennis ball for the pooch to chase and a little bottle of perfume oil that smells like rain, just to make you dream.


Photo source: main image by Karen Arnold , field of flowers by Settik27, via Pixabay

How to stop puppy mouthing and biting / tips and training for English cocker spaniel puppy / dog blog / puppy training / Perfect cocker spaniel (C) Natalia Ashton

Q&A | Ouch, it hurts! Or how to stop puppy biting

Do you remember the day you brought your puppy home? It’s always so sweet, isn’t it? The cuddly, silky, chunky, adorable puppy napping in his basket and carefully yet curiously sniffing his new home… But give him a few days and the little beastie is here to transform the “aww” moments into the “ouch!” ones more often then we’d ever imagined or wished for….

Puppy biting is one of the realities every dog parent has to deal with. It is a part of puppyhood. We cannot avoid it. Instead we have to face it, make it bearable and use as a starting learning point for our own benefit long-term. We also need to prevent the worst outcome that most people describe as aggression. On very positive side, it’s worth mentioning that cocker spaniels are one of the gun dog breeds that were used to flush and bring prey without killing it. As a result, these dogs are more likely to have a “soft bite” because of their genetic background, so your chances of achieving success are much higher than, say, for a parent of a terrier.

First of all, it’s important to establish the difference between puppy mouthing and puppy biting.

All puppies mouth as a part of their play with mum, siblings and anyone else who comes their way. Mouthing helps them to find their position within the family and explore the environment as a part of their learning process.

The best thing you can do is anticipate and avoid any situation when the hard mouthing or biting can happen. You need to understand your pup’s body language and pay a lot of attention to his behaviour 24/7, but once you get an idea – you will always know the how, when, what and why.

If the puppy is mouthing during a play, looking relaxed and happy, you can stroke him and immediately redirect his attention to a toy without making much fuss or encouraging a play to get puppy overexcited.

A chew or stuffed toy is a good choice because puppy can bite and lick it, which can help him relax and relieve possible teething discomfort. If your puppy is relatively calm, you can throw a ball for him to fetch – it will take his attention away from your hand, make him feel really good about learning a new command (so praise him when he brings the toy back) and relieve any possible teething discomfort by sinking his needle-sharp teeth into the trophy. Some puppies do well with soft toys or even old towers and t-shirt tied into oversized knots (big enough to be interesting and “bite’able”, but not too big or small because it needs to suit your puppy’s mouth)

If you sense a slightest tension in your pup’s body language, the puppy gets overexcited or the mouthing becomes painful, you have three options:

… hold the puppy firmly but gently, then carefully remove your hand out of his mouth with a “disappointing cue” such as “ops” or “uh-oh”. Personally, I don’t like the use of “no” because it’s a bit meaningless, and many of us end up using it way too often and pointlessly (from the dog’s point of view);

… you need to stop interacting with the pup, stand/sit still and avoid temptation to react, talk to or cuddle him;

… or you can do what his mum and other pups would – make a high pitch sound meaning that it hurts – and slowly and calmly walk away. It is important not to run away from the puppy or keep on screaming and run away in a manner of windmill with all your body parts moving and flopping around (which is what little kids often do)  because it will simply look like an irresistible game of chase, catch and bite!

You can also use the mouthing moment to let your dog know that it’s ok if your fingers are in or around his mouth. It will teach him that you can use fingers to examine his muzzle, inside and outside of his mouth, or clean teeth. It can be done as a part of a play when the puppy is in your lap, calm and content, and tries to have your finger in his mouth as a part of chill out time. It is up to you to decide when this “game” starts and ends.

Teaching your puppy the rules of mouthing and how to be gentle needs to begin from the day he first shows this behaviour. The longer you leave it, the worst it will become and the more difficult it will be to re-shape and stop. If you don’t act, the mouthing can signal the pup that it is totally ok to bite and eventually lead to serious consequences.

But puppies do bite, I hear you say. And yes, they do. The mouthing can become harder or turn into biting for several reasons.

Some puppies can use nipping and biting to seek attention or out of frustration because they aren’t getting what they want here and now. You need to stop this straight away and only react to the puppy if/when he stops, sits quietly and remains in a sitting position for a few seconds (you can build up from 5 to 30 seconds slowly). If he impolitely insists on rough play and biting because you are not paying attention or delivering treats and toys in a timely manner suggested by his royal highness – walk away calmly without saying a word.

Most puppies turn into little sharks during teething times because they really want to get those milk teeth out and because their gums really hurt. Giving him chew toys (I always choose rubber over nylon), soft unstuffed or extra strong toys, rope toys (make sure they are made of natural un-dyed cotton, ideally organic and always supervise!), suede toys, knotted towels and t-shirts in plentiful amounts can help a lot. Many puppies love destroying cardboard boxes, too. Stock up on toys like a kleptomaniac – and rotate them every few days to keep the pup interested. Don’t forget, once the puppy teeth are out, the grown-up set and gums still take time to settle, so don’t expect your junior to act as a responsible adult – he isn’t quite there yet. So toys and more toys, plus careful training are your allies.

A lot of puppies can also become nippy and aggressive when they are either overexcited or tired (puppies cry – puppies bite). I’ve written about it before, so Zoomies are so last year is the post for you.

Biting can also be your pup’s answer to fear or any moment or situation that makes him feel uncomfortable. Use socialisation, training and create calm environment to show him that life is generally pretty good, especially when you are a little cocker.

It is also important to remember to be gentle with the pup because he is very fragile and can be easily injured, not to shout him, or lock him in a spare room or crate as a way to punish him, work as a family involving everyone who ever plays with the little one, and most definitely teach your children the do’s and don’t’s of handling a young dog.

This stage will be over before you even realise. It just takes a little dedication and lots of patience to get through.

If you are looking for more information about English cockers and finding and raising a puppy, you may like my book Perfect cocker spaniel, which has a month by month puppy plan nestled nicely among the tips about breed, health, grooming, first aid, diet and training.


Image credit: cocker spaniel puppy by Switlana Symonenko (C)