1. It's illegal to have a dog dangerously out of control:
- in a public place
- in a private place, for example a neighbour’s house or garden
- in the owner’s home
The law applies to all dogs.
Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:
- injures someone
- makes someone worried that it might injure them
A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if either of the following apply:
- it attacks someone’s animal
- the owner of an animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal
A farmer is allowed to kill your dog if it’s worrying their livestock.
You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both) if your dog is dangerously out of control. You may not be allowed to own a dog in the future and your dog may be destroyed.
If you let your dog injure someone you can be sent to prison for up to 5 years or fined (or both). If you deliberately use your dog to injure someone you could be charged with ‘malicious wounding’.
If you allow your dog to kill someone you can be sent to prison for up to 14 years or get an unlimited fine (or both).
If you allow your dog to injure an assistance dog (for example a guide dog) you can be sent to prison for up to 3 years or fined (or both).
From cars on both quiet and busy roads, passing cyclists, motorbikes, they all have the potential to cause life-changing or serious accidents, so it's important your dog is trained to listen to you and come back on command.
3. A big concern for many dog owners
Make sure your dog is not at risk of theft by building up a bond with your dog so they never leave your side to go wandering off.
If you are not confident you dog will come back to you, only let them off in safe, enclosed spaces such as a dedicated dog park.
4. Injury to others
Whether this is another dog, a person, livestock, or yourself. You must never let your dog off if:
- you're unsure if they will come back
- you're unfamiliar of the area
- if livestock are around