It’s against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, including:
- A public place
- A private place, such as someone else’s house or garden
- In your own home.
What does ‘dangerously out of control’ mean?
Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:
- Injures someone
- Makes someone worried that it might injure them.
A court may also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if:
- It injures someone’s animal
- The animal’s owner thinks they could be injured if they try to stop your dog attacking their animal.
A farmer is allowed to kill your dog if it’s chasing livestock, such as cows or sheep.
What are the penalties?
You can get an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to 6 months (or both). 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 a guide dog you can be sent to prison for up to 3 years or fined (or both).
How to stop your dog becoming dangerous
- Make sure your dog gets used to people and other animals from a young age.
- Do not encourage it to bite, even in play, or to guard you or your property aggressively.
- Ensure that it is well trained so you have it under control at all times. You should use a muzzle and a lead if you have any doubts about your dog’s behaviour.
It illegal to own, breed from, sell, or give away the following dogs:
- Pit Bull Terrier
- Dogo Argentino
- Fila Brasileiro (Brazilian Mastiff)
- Japanese Tosa.
If you are found to own a banned dog, you can be fined up to £5,000.
- Controlling your dog in public (external link)
What to do if you are bitten by a dog
Dogs’ teeth can cause deep wounds which can get infected so you should visit your hospital or doctor’s surgery as soon as possible. This will also mean there is a record of the bite and any treatment needed - this information will be important if you decide to take legal action.
Report any dog bite to your local police and the dog warden immediately (it is best to have the incident on record with both). The police will decide whether to take legal action.