The dog ownership laws that could land you with an unlimited fine or jail time if you fall foul of them

Penalties for breaking the laws include unlimited fines and up to 14 years in jail

There are a variety of laws surrounding dogs which owners need to be aware of.

The penalties for falling foul of the laws range from hefty fines, imprisonment and a ban on owning dogs.

Your dog cannot be dangerously out of control in public

It is against the law for a dog to be dangerously out of control in public.

The Derbyshire Police defined being dangerously out of control when: “if it injures someone or 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

According to the Government’s website on dog attacks, the following is punishable by a fine or imprisonment:

  • 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).

ID tags 

Failing to put a tag on your dog with your details could lead to a fine or even jail time.

Under the Control of Dogs Order 1992 law, England and Scotland it says dogs must wear a tag with their owner’s name and address on it.

If dogs are not wearing a proper identification tag, their owners could be breaching the Animal Health Act (1981).

Anyone convicted could receive an unlimited fine or even a six-month prison sentence.

Lead walking 

You could be fined up to £1,000 if your dog is not permitted to be off its lead.

If a local authority has issued a Public Spaces Protection Order or Dog Control Order, then dogs are not allowed to enter the area.

However, areas such as beaches, sports pitches and flower beds are common areas that are off-limits to dogs under these acts.

The Road Traffic Act 1998 states it is a criminal offence for a dog to be off its lead in a “designated road”.


If your pet is not properly secured in the car you could be breaching the Highway Code.

Owners could be potentially hit with a fine of up to £5,000 for “careless driving”.

It is recommended that dogs should be put in the backseat or the boot, and although it does not state in the law dogs should not stick their head out the window - it could lead to drivers being pulled over for “driving without due care and attention”.

This could result in a fine or points on your driving licence.

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