Dog Laws UK - everything you need to know

Dog Laws UK - everything you need to know

The law surrounding our beloved best friends can be both confusing and seem contradicting. 

We’ve put together everything you need to know to keep you and your dog safe, and make sure you’re following the law. 

All dogs must wear a collar in public 

One of the most common misconceptions surrounding dog laws in the UK is whether or not a dog must wear a collar. 

It is still a legal requirement that dogs must have two forms of identification when in public: 

  1. A collar with a tag (either attached to the collar or with identification inscribed on the collar itself); and 
  2. they must be microchipped 

Technically, under the current law in the UK wearing a harness does not count, and dogs must still wear a collar when in public (this of course doesn’t mean they must be walked on the collar).

In addition, dogs must also be microchipped and it is the owners responsibility to ensure these details are kept up to date. 

Failure to adhere to both of these conditions can result in hefty fines, not to mention the risk of your dog being treated as a stray if found. 

Dog Laws UK - for ID tags 

You might be wondering what information has to go on an ID tag and why, if the dog is microchipped, do they also need an identification tag? 

Imagine if your dog ran off, how many people carry microchip scanners with them in comparison to the amount of people who carry their mobile phones. It is much easier for someone to call you and reunite you with your beloved pooch than wait for them to take them to a vet or shelter to have their chip scanned. 

The owners name, address and postcode by law should be on an ID tag, but it’s always recommended to include a telephone number as well. 

Dog Laws UK - do they need to be on lead? 

The short answer is no, however, bear in mind if your dog has no recall someone can deem them as being out of control in public which is a criminal offence. 

If your dog doesn’t come back as soon as they are called, if they’re likely to run up to other dogs, people or potentially livestock on walks, it’s recommended you keep them on a long lead for their safety and to ensure you are adhering to the law. 

When walking by a road, the Highway Code states that dogs must be kept on a short lead. 

Animal welfare 

All dogs have a legal right to the following: 

  • To live in a suitable environment 
  • To eat a suitable diet 
  • To exhibit normal behaviour patterns 
  • To be housed with, or apart from, other animals 
  • To be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease 

Most of us wouldn’t dream of causing our beloved dogs pain, suffering or injury but there are still trainers and advocates for training tools that do just that. 

In wales, the use of electric dog collars are banned and there is campaign for the same tools to be banned in the UK, too (you can read more about the campaign here

It is also illegal in the UK to dock or crop a dog’s ears or tail. Exemptions do apply for medical reasons, and before you judge any dog with cropped or docked ears remember a lot of people rescue dogs who have already had these procedures done to them through no fault of their own. 

dog barking, fouling and livestock 

It’s natural for dogs to bark sometimes, but bare in mind that persistent dog barking can be classified as a ‘statutory nuisance’. If your dog appears to be stressed or barking more often than usual, consult an experienced trainer. 

All dogs have to do their business, but it’s our jobs at the humans to make sure we clean up after them! Dog poop can cause illness in people, wildlife and livestock if not picked up. Always bag it, bin it or take it home if you can’t find a bin! If you really hate carrying it around with you, look at investing in a practipoo or a dicky bag! 

Lastly, dogs must not under any circumstances worry livestock. It is always recommended to put your dog on a lead around livestock or avoid walking in areas where livestock will be. These areas are usually always well signposted. Even if your dog wouldn’t usually chase, they can become overexcited by new and different smells. It’s always worth being safe over being sorry! 

So, there you have it! The most important Dog Laws in the UK you need to know about. 

of course, there are so many more minor laws in the UK surrounding our beloved fur friends. If we’ve missed anything important - drop a comment below! 

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