Beware of the Dog-Law
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For a short personal overview of the situation by Theo Stewart, go to: http://dogidogblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/dog-law/
This presentation was created in response to people's concerns following articles in most of the newspapers. Please note that prosecution for a single offense unless actual damage is caused is very rare and unlikely. Most authorities will first give out warning and advice.
This presentation is designed to be used by dog professionals (those who work with dogs in any capacity, such as trainers, behaviour consultants, groomers, rescue workers, boarding kennels, dog walkers etc.) to address existing concerns in the dog-owning public, with advice for dog owners regarding the changes in the Dog Law and what they can do to play safe with practical solutions. It is not to scaremonger, but to inform. What we say is accurate to the best of our knowledge. This is a privately created presentation. We don't represent the law or the government.
2. This presentation was created in response to the concerns of many dogowners following articles in most of the newspapers. Please note thatprosecution for a single offense unless actual damage is caused is veryrare and unlikely. Most authorities will first give out warning and advice.This presentation is designed to be used by dog professionals to addressexisting concerns in the dog-owning public, with advice for dog ownersregarding the changes in the Dog Law and what they can do to play safewith practical solutions and training. It is not to scaremonger, but toinform.By professionals we mean those who work with dogs in any capacity,such as trainers, behaviour consultants, groomers, rescue workers,boarding kennels, dog walkers etc.What we say is accurate to the best of our knowledge. This is a privatelycreated presentation. We don't represent the law or the government.Theo Stewart and Lisa Tenzin-Dolma 3. ‘The aim (of the Act) is to encourage responsibledog ownership and reduce other incidentsinvolving dogs, such as straying and the use of dogsfor intimidation, through early engagement andeducation, and overall to prevent problemsbecoming more serious and to thus reduce thenumber of dog bites’.(Dealing with irresponsible dog ownership. DEFRA Practitioner’s manualOctober 2014) 4. An RSPCA official stated on the 14th May: ‘While we don’tbelieve these changes will be effective in doing what they setabout to do, which is reducing dog bites and anti-socialbehaviour with dogs, we do support the notion that all dogowners should be responsible for their dog’s behaviour withother people and animals.There is, however, a concern that even the most well behavedand well trained dogs could fall foul of this legislationaccidentally. For example, if a dog becomes overexcited,jumps up and knocks someone down’. 5. ‘Since 1991 it’s been illegal for dogs to be ‘dangerously outof control in a public place’.However, until recently dog bites and attacks on privateproperty were excluded from the legislation.The main change in the law is an extension to coverincidents which take place on private property. This meansin your home, including your front and back garden’.This applies whether or not the person has been invited. 6. Owners can now be prosecuted for a dog attack onprivate property.Maximum prison sentences were extended to:• 14 years, from two years, for a fatal dog attack.• Five years, from two years, for injury.• Three years for an attack on an assistance dog. 7. Whether you own a large breed dog or a tiny one andhowever placid and friendly your dog is, the DangerousDogs Act applies to you.It applies to all dog owners in England and Wales.Under the Act, it’s illegal for a dog to be ‘dangerously out ofcontrol’ or to bite or attack someone.The legislation also makes it an offence if a person feelsthreatened (the term is ‘reasonable apprehension’) that a dogmay bite them. So ensure that your dog is kept under controlat all times and in all places. 8. • Jumping up• Being boisterous and excited• Uninvited interactions that cause anxiety or concern• Not paying attention to the owner• Unreliable recall• Being off-lead in a public place without adequatesupervision• Behaving in such a way that someone feels intimidated orthreatened 9. Even a friendly greeting can be misinterpreted 10. If your dog acts in a manner that a visitor views asintimidating, even if your dog is being friendly,you could be liable for prosecution.This includes:• Dogs who bark at visitors.• Dogs who jump up while greeting visitors. 11. If your dog is excitable, it’s recommended that you keephim/her in a separate room or crated while guests are inyour home, or until he/she has calmed down.You can train your dog to settle on a mat or bed.You may wish to call in a qualified behaviourist orattend training classes that use only force-free methods,so that your dog learns to pay attention to you and torespond to requests to be calm. 12. You can teach your dog to go to his or her bed when visitorsarrive. 13. The law makes it clear that dogs must not be allowed to be ina garden without supervision where there is access to thehouse.This is to protect postal and delivery workers, but it alsoapplies to visiting guests.If your dog is running free in an outdoor access area to yourhome and someone entering feels under threat, you could beprosecuted.If your dog nips or bites a visitor coming into your garden,you could be liable for imprisonment and your dog may beeuthanized. 14. Not all dogs are friendly like these two to people passing by orentering the garden 15. Police and local authorities were given new legal powers totackle irresponsible dog ownership.For the first time, police and local authorities are able todemand that owners take action to prevent a dog attack orrisk a fine of up to £20,000. If a complaint has been madeabout a dog to the council or police, its owners could beordered to do any or all of the following:• Attend dog training classes• Muzzle the dog or require it to be on a lead in public• Require the dog to be micro chipped and/or neutered• Repair fencing to prevent the dog leaving the property 16. Off-lead dogs can be considered to be ‘dangerously out ofcontrol’ and may look threatening. 17. The law provides a defence if your dog attacksan intruder in your own home, so this may be acomfort to many dog owners.However, rather confusingly, if your dog attacksan intruder in your garden this will be an offencewhich could land you in court. 18. No, the RSCPA campaigned for attacks on other animals tobe included in the legislation, but the recommendation wasnot taken up.If your dog is attacked by another dog, the incident shouldstill be reported to the police immediately.If you suffer emotional distress through witnessing yourdog being attacked by another dog, the owner is liable forprosecution. This could result in a fine, a control order, orthe destruction of the dog who instigated the attack. 19. Postal workers, utility providers and other authorised visitors toyour property should be able to carry out their work withoutfeeling afraid, being threatened, bitten or coming into contactwith your dog.You know your dog better than anyone else. If your dog reacts tothe doorbell or new people at the door, it is sensible to introduce aroutine for managing them when the doorbell rings.You should also ensure that your garden is secure. This can bedone by making sure your back gate can be closed or locked. Thisis not only to reduce the likelihood of your dog escaping, but toprevent trespassers who could inadvertently cause an incident inwhich you would be liable. 20. If a passer-by touches or strokes your dog over or through afence, you could be held liable for any incident that occurs. 21. By law police can take any situation further if it somehowrelates to the Dangerous Dogs Act, but due to lack ofresources this is unlikely to be enforced unless damage isdone.The happy dog knocking down a child in the park is acategory 1 offence which can potentially have the dog putto sleep, but the police are unlikely to have time to dealwith this.However, is it worth the very small risk? 22. Ensure that all visitors are interacting safely with your dog.You could provide your dog with their own personal space.Then make sure that visitors understand not to approachthem when they are there.This is particularly important in the case of visitingchildren, as children’s body language can be confusing todogs and their high-pitched voices can upset or frightendogs. Children tend to want to make very close facial contactwith dogs, which many dogs find threatening.The majority of dog bites treated in hospitals involvechildren. 23. It’s the responsibility of the owners to protect their dog fromunwanted attention. 24. Ensure your dog responds to basic commands sothat you can keep them under reasonable controlwhen in public places and in your home.Reliable recall is essential if you let your dog offlead.Find a suitable dog trainer or behaviour consultantwho uses only force-free methods. 25. A friendly dog jumping up may scare someone. 26. This gorgeous boy is calledKobi and he is friendly with allpeople and dogs.Someone may be scared of himjust on account of how helooks 27. Ensure your dog is under control at all times, indoors as well as outside.It can help to use a well-fitting harness instead of a collar and lead, as this givesyou more control.Spend time teaching your dog to behave calmly in the presence of other peopleand dogs. This is an investment in your relationship for the future, too.If your dog is boisterous or reactive, enlist the help of a qualified behaviourist ortrainer who uses only force-free methods. As many dogs are excited when visitorsarrive, it can help to call in a professional to work with this in your own home.Be aware of other people’s perceptions of your dog. Many people don’tunderstand dog body language, and may feel threatened even if your dog isbeing friendly.Educate yourself in the basics of dog communication so that you can tell if yourdog is feeling stressed or scared. Understanding what your dog is feeling throughobserving him or her can avert potentially tricky situations from occurring.Being able to ‘read’ your dog will help prevent you from getting on the wrongside of the law – and could save your dog’s life. 28. • Secure boundary fencing with no gaps.• Boundary fencing sufficiently high that a person can’t leanover or put a hand over.• A locked garden gate to prevent unexpected visitors• An outside letterbox if your dog is reactive to postal ordelivery workers.None of these safety precautions should be too difficult to put in place 29. • Block access to your front door with a safety gate, or putyour dog in another room before answering the door.• Teach your dog to greet visitors calmly.• Crate train your dog so that he/she has a safe, secureresting place when you have company.• It may be necessary to have an excitable or wary dog onlead when other people are in your home.None of these indoor safety precautions should be too difficult to put inplace 30. • The Yellow Dog Campaign has yellow leads, bandanas andjackets for dogs who need space. Tell approaching people thatyour dog is in training.• Protect your dog from unwanted attention or touching. Youmust be your dog’s advocate.• Teach reactive dogs to be comfortable wearing a muzzle whenout. Chirag Patel’s excellent video on how to do this can befound on YouTube on the DomesticatedManners channel.• Teach your dog to be calm in the presence of other dogs andpeople. 31. • A professional dog walker – or anyone walking the dog -is considered to be the ‘keeper’ of the dog in their care,and is legally responsible for the dog when out.• Do not let any young children hold your dog’s leadduring walks. Children under the age of 16 are not heldlegally responsible for a dog in their care. Fullresponsibility for the dog rests with the dog owner or theadults in the child’s household. 32. • In Wales next year, 2015, and England 2016 it will be thelegal requirement of all dog owners to have their dogsmicro chipped.• Hand in hand with this we hope that there will be morepeople registered to scan all strays. 33. ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.Benjamin Franklin 34. Presentation created by Theo Stewart and LisaTenzin-Dolma.In conjunction with:The International School for Canine Practitioners:www.theiscp.comThe Dog Welfare Alliance:www.dogwelfarealliance.com©Theo Stewart and Lisa Tenzin-Dolma
- 1. How the New Dog Laws Affect You,the Owner/GuardianBy Theo Stewart and Lisa Tenzin-DolmaIn association with the International School for Canine Practitioners and the Dog Welfare Alliance