Why Should You Train Your Dog?

What the law says


If someone is attacked by a dog or are in fear of being attacked, and the person in charge had no proper control of it then the dog could be said to be dangerous and out of control. 


So if your dog runs up to someone, you cannot recall it, and it jumps up them, barks or growls etc and that person is worried (they may be frightened of dogs). Or it runs up towards their dog on a lead and they are worried it may attack their dog, then the offence is committed. Just shouting “It’s friendly!” because you cannot recall it does not work as if the third party is worried, the offence is absolute.


The incident can be reported to the police who will carry out an investigation. The courts have the power to order that the dog is kept under proper control or destroyed.


If a dog poses an immediate threat to the safety of the public, the police or other responsible person (e.g. vet/local authority) can order that the dog be lawfully destroyed. It is a criminal offence for the person in charge of the dog to allow it to be 'dangerously out of control' anywhere in England and Wales whether or not a public place. (Yes! Even in your own home!)


The following list explains when a dog may be considered dangerously out of control-

  • if it injures a person or an assistance dog, or
  • it causes a person to worry that it may injure them or an assistance dog, and the person in charge of the dog has no proper control of it.

The court could also decide that a dog is dangerously out of control if either of the following apply-

  • attacks another person's animal
  • the owner of an animal thinks that they could be injured trying to stop your dog attacking their animal.

If the dog has been established as dangerously out of control but does not pose an immediate threat to the public etc., the police and local authorities now have the power to act early to prevent dog attacks before they occur. These measures could include; attending dog training classes, repairing fencing to their property to prevent the dog escaping or requiring the dog to be muzzled when out in public.


See below for examples of orders the police can enforce.


Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) propose to deal with a particular nuisance in a particular area that is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life for those in the local community. It can prohibit certain things or require specific things to be done.


An example of when a PSPO may be issued could be to help keep dogs under control within a public place such as a park. It may require that the dog is kept on a lead at all times and/or the dog is only allowed in certain areas.

When deciding whether an order should be issued, the local authority must consider two things:

  • Firstly whether the behaviour is having a detrimental effect, or is likely to have this effect.
  • Secondly, whether the effect/likely effect of the activities is of a persistent nature making the behaviour unreasonable and rendering the notice justified. 


It can be made to apply to all people, or limited only to certain people and can be restricted to specific times. A PSPO can last no longer than 3 years but can be renewed if necessary. Failure to comply with the order can result in a fine or a fixed penalty notice. 


A Community Protection Notice (CPN) also known as a Voluntary Control Order (VCO) is aimed to prevent unreasonable behaviour that is having a negative impact on the local community's quality of life. Any person aged 16 years or over can be issued with a notice, whether it is an individual or a business, and it will require the behaviour to stop and if necessary reasonable steps to be taken to ensure it is not repeated in the future. 


Below are examples of when a CPN/VCO may be issued;

  •      when a dog is constantly escaping through a broken fence the owner could be issued a CPN/VCO requiring that the fence be fixed to avoid further escapes, 
  •      when a dog is constantly running up to people and causing them to worry because the owner is not in proper control.

Police officers, local authorities and PCSOs can issue CPNs/VCOs but before doing so they must consider two things;

  • whether the conduct is having a detrimental effect on the community's quality of life and also,
  • whether said conduct is considered unreasonable.


The individual must be given a written warning beforehand stating that if the behaviour doesn't cease, the notice will be issued

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Last updated June 2024.

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