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A guide to the Dangerous Dogs Act

What do you need to do to control your dog properly?

A beware of the dog sign on a fence

The Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced in 1991 in an attempt to reduce the number of attacks by dogs that were out of control. This guide outlines your responsibilities as an owner to make sure you control your pet properly.

What is the Dangerous Dogs Act?

It's a criminal offence to allow your dog to get dangerously out of control. As the owner, it's your responsibility to keep your dog under control at all times; whether you're out in public, at a private address or at your own address.

The Dangerous Dogs Act deems that your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it injures someone or even if it makes someone worried that it might injure them.

Your dog could also be considered dangerous if it attacks another animal or if the owner of another animal believes they will be injured if they try to stop an attack by your dog. A farmer has the right to shoot your dog if it is attacking livestock.

Attacks by dangerous dogs on your dog or cat can be shocking, not to mention expensive to treat. Make sure your pet insurance is up to date at all times.

As the owner, it's your responsibility to keep your dog under control at all times.

Can I still get insurance for a dangerous dog?

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act, there are four types of dog that are banned in the UK: the Pit Bull Terrier, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro.

If you own one of these dogs and the court believes your dog is not a danger to the public, you will be able to keep it but you must have third party liability insurance for it.

It can be quite difficult to find insurance cover for banned breeds as many mainstream insurers, including LV= don't insure these types of dogs. A specialist insurer may be able to help.

What happens if I can't control my dog?

If your dog is dangerously out of control you can be sent to prison for up to six months and be given an unlimited fine.

And if your dog injures someone you could be sent to prison for up to five years. The prison sentence rises to up to 14 years if your dog kills someone.

You could also receive an unlimited fine and it's likely that you won't be allowed to keep a dog in the future. Your dog may also be destroyed.

If your dog causes injury to a person, another animal or someone else's property, you can also be liable for paying damages to that person or owner.

For example, if your dog knocks someone over and they injure themselves or your dog runs away across a road and causes a traffic accident, you could be liable for paying for the damage caused.

Check that your pet insurance includes third party liability, which can help you cover the cost of settling claims for damages.

How do I keep my dog under control?

Reward-based training and socialising from an early age can help your dog become a confident and relaxed animal.

Aggressive behaviour in dogs is often a result of stress and anxiety. Your dog may find itself in a situation where it feels the only way to respond is with aggression.

A dog rarely resorts to biting without giving a series of warning signals first. If you understand these signals, you can dissipate the dog's anxiety and reduce the chance of it biting.

Warning signals include:

  • Tense mouth
  • Hard staring eyes
  • Growling
  • Tail held low between legs
  • Air snapping

Speak to a vet if you're worried about your dog displaying aggressive behaviour. It may also be an indication of an illness or injury. However, if your dog needs behavioural treatment in the future, LV= offers Lifetime pet insurance cover for some behavioural problems. Unfortunately any existing or on-going behavioural problems your dog may have had wouldn't be covered.

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