Legal requirements for owning a dog

As a dog owner there are laws we have to follow – do you know what they are?


As a dog owner you are required to clean up after you dog.

The Dog Fouling Act of 2016 places responsibility on the ‘person in charge of the dog at the time of the fouling’ and all Scamps and Champs dog walkers take this very seriously.

Under the Clean Neighborhoods and Environment Act 2005, local authorities have the power to make Dog Control Orders in relation to public land.

Which means that, not cleaning up after your dog is an offence, punishable by a fine at level 3, which is £1000.

The Dog Control Order may also relate to; keeping dogs on leads, exclusion of dogs from land and also the number of dogs which a person may take on to any land.


We are talking about leads, collars and muzzles.

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988 it is a criminal offence for a dog to be on a designated road (i.e. public road) without being help on a lead. The exceptions are for dogs proved to be kept for driving or tending sheep or cattle.

The Control of Dogs Order 1992 requires every dog while on a public highway or in a public place to wear a collar with the name and address of the owner inscribed on it or on a ID badge attached to the collar.

Exceptions to that legislation are:

  • packs of hounds;
  • dogs used for sporting purposes;
  • dogs being used for the capture or destruction of vermin;
  • dogs being used for the driving or tending of cattle or sheep;
  • dogs being used on official duties by a member of the Armed Forces or Customs and Excise or a police force;
  • dogs being used in emergency rescue work, and;
  • dogs registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

The Countryside Code for dog owners

The Protection of Livestock Act 1953 states that it is legal for a farmer to shoot a dog that is worrying his livestock.

The livestock act covers cows, sheep, pigs, horses, chickens, geese and goats. The Act does not cover domestic pets such as cats or wild game birds. The Act applies to any person who is walking or in control of a dog whether they are the owner or not.

The public right of way applies only to the footpath through the field, not to the whole field and so does not give people the right to wander the wider area.

Third party liability insurance is not a legal requirement but should advisable in case your dog causes damage or runs out in the road and cause a road traffic accident.

Third party liability is usually covered in all basic pet insurance policies.


Since April 2016 dog owners in UK are legally required to microchip their dog by 8 weeks old. The exception is that dogs bred for working purposes, eg gun dogs, which must be chipped by the time they are 12 weeks old.

It is important to keep your contact details and address up to date on the microchip database so that if you dog goes missing or stolen he can be traced back to you.

If you move home or change your number, be sure to update your details.

Restraining your dog to travel in the car

Rule 57 of the Highway Code 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 are ways of restraining animals in cars’.

A dog guard separating the dog in the boot of the car to passengers in the front and back seat is an fairly simple solution to restraining your dog while traveling.

Using a dog harness which attaches to the cars existing seatbelt fittings or a dog crate are other possible solutions.