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Protect your dog

Dogs are much-loved family pets, but they can be valuable. Keeping your dog safe will spare your family heart ache and protect your investment.

Keeping dogs safe and well

Dog walking

  • Ensure your dog is microchipped and registered with up to date information and has a collar and dog tag (use your surname rather than the dog’s name and your telephone contact).
  • Neutering your pet might ensure they don't get targeted for breeding purposes, consider adding “I am neutered” tag to their collar.
  • Take plenty of clear photographs of your pet and especially of any distinctive markings
  • When walking your pet, try different routes and keep your pet in sight at all times.
  • Never leave a dog unattended in the garden, in the car or outside shops.
  • Don’t give details of your pets, your location or your favourite walking spots on social media and make sure your security settings are set to friends only.
  • When out, always know where your dog is.  Be mindful of anyone who may be trying to distract your attention from your dog or attract your dog’s attention away from you.
  • If your dog is stolen – report to Police on 101 and to your local authority dog warden if you have one in your area.  Notify your microchip database provider immediately and advise Doglost (opens in a new window) or via their Facebook page (opens in a new window)


Home safety and dog breeders

  • Avoid leaving dogs in outside kennels if at all possible, if not possible then make sure the kennels are alarmed – padlocks alone will not stop thieves!
  • Ensure all gates are locked at top and bottom with a shoot bolt and padlock, consider fitting a bell to the gate so you hear if anyone opens it or gate alarm as well.
  • Check and make sure your garden boundary (fence, hedge etc) is secure so that no one can gain entry or pull your dog out and to ensure the dog cannot escape via any gaps.
  • Consider driveway alarms to alert you to intruders and combine this with the use of monitored CCTV that will alert you via your phone or tablet instantly.
  • Ensure that your house and property boundaries are secure – keeping your dog in and intruders out. Think about trellis on rear fencing.  
  • Fit garden gates with bolts top and bottom and secure with a heavy duty closed shackle padlock (preferably alarmed).  Gate alarms are great for alerting you when anyone enters.
  • Take great care when inviting people in to view animals; ideally have someone else present and limit the numbers of people you allow in at a time. Show the puppies in one secure area and record any vehicle details of visitors including index number. 
  • Don’t buy dogs from social media sites or any person where appropriate documentation (ownership, health check, pedigree papers etc) cannot be provided and always view puppies with the mother in their home environment.
  • Be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police via 101.

Any breed of dog can be considered dangerous if not kept under control and any signs of aggressive behaviour could make someone feel unsafe.

It’s against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, including;

  • public places
  • private places e.g. a neighbour’s house or garden
  • owners homes.


Dangerous dogs

A dog will be considered as dangerously out of control if it injures someone or another animal or makes a person feel worried that it may injure them.

To find out what the penalties are for owning a dangerous dog, Visit GOV.UK.(opens in new window)

Banned dogs

Some dog breeds are banned in the UK. If you own a banned dog, the police or local council dog warden can take it away and keep it, even if it isn’t acting dangerously and there hasn’t been a complaint.

A dog expert will then judge what type of dog you have and whether it could be a danger to the public. After this, your dog will either be given back to you or kept in kennels whilst the police or council apply to a court to make a decision.

More information about dangerous or banned dogs is available on GOV.UK (opens in new window) or you may wish to read section three of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (opens in new window).

Dogs die in hot cars

Never leave your dog alone in a car on a warm day. If you see a dog in distress in a hot car, dial 999.

Many people still believe that it's ok to leave a dog in a car on a warm day if the windows are left open or they're parked in the shade, but the truth is, it's still a very dangerous situation for the dog.

A car can become as hot as an oven very quickly, even when it doesn't feel that warm. When it's 22 degrees, in a car it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within the hour.

What to do if you see a dog in a car on a warm day

In an emergency, we may not be able to attend quickly enough, and with no powers of entry, we'd need police assistance at such an incident.

Don't be afraid to dial 999, the police will inform us if animal welfare assistance is required.

Help a dog in a hot car

  • Establish the animal's health and condition. If they're displaying any signs of heatstroke (opens in new window) dial 999 immediately.
  • If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are too far away or unable to attend, many people's instinct will be to break into the car to free the dog. If you decide to do this, please be aware that without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage and, potentially, you may need to defend your actions in court.
  • Make sure you tell the police what you intend to do and why. Take pictures or videos of the dog and the names and numbers of witnesses to the incident. The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971).

Once removed, if the dog is displaying signs of heatstroke, follow the RSPCA emergency first aid advice (opens in a new window). This could mean the difference between life and death for the dog.

If the dog isn't displaying symptoms of heatstroke

  • Establish how long the dog has been in the car. A 'pay and display' ticket could help.
  • Make a note of the car's registration. If the owner returns, but you still feel the situation was dangerous for the dog, you may still report the incident to the police.
  • If you're at a shop, venue or event ask the staff to make an announcement to alert the owner of the situation.
  • If possible, get someone to stay with the dog to monitor their condition. If they begin to display signs of distress or heatstroke, be prepared to dial 999.
  • You can also call our 24-hour cruelty line for advice on 0300 1234 999. However, if the dog's in danger, dialing 999 should always be the first step.


Stay away from farm animals

Owners should avoid taking their dogs into fields where there are farm animals or horses.

If owners have to go into fields, they should keep their dog on a lead and stay as far away from farm animals as they can.

Owners should keep a close eye on the animals as they pass to see how they react to the owner and their dog.

Owners should never take their dogs through a field with young animals, as their mothers can get very protective.

It is important to take note of signs asking owners not to take dogs into a field, because there could be pregnant animals there.

Dogs might stress out those animals and could cause problems with their pregnancy.

A farmer might also ask owners to keep out of certain fields to help stop the spread of disease.

Some animals may act aggressively to protect other animals in the field, for example bulls - especially in fields with other animals; cows with young calves; deer during mating season or with calves; and sheep with lambs.


Look out for protective livestock

It is not just dogs who threaten other animals - dogs may also becoming victims of sheep attacks.

When walking in the countryside or other areas where dogs are likely to come across cattle, sheep, horses and other animals, it is recommended to keep dogs on leads and be particularly wary of farm animals with their young.

If owners are threatened or chased by livestock, they should let go of the lead for their own safety. It is usually the dog the livestock see as a threat, rather than the owner and most dogs can easily outrun a cow.

Even if a dog does not usually chase, it may become excited by unusual smells, sounds or movements and it is better to be safe than sorry.


Make sure you are in control

Dog owners and those in control of dogs are legally responsible for everything the dog does, so they need to stay in control of them.

If they run off unattended, they could get into trouble, get hurt or harm someone else.

If the dog damages someone's property or injures or kills a farm animal, it can cause a lot of heartache, not to mention prosecution.

Make sure your dog's collar and harness fit well and they cannot wriggle out of it.

Keep your dog on a lead around farm animals or wildlife.

Brush up on your dog's training and practice some basic commands like "sit", "stay", "come" and "leave".

Pack tasty, healthy treats the dog cannot resist. They will then come when called.

Check pet insurance includes third-party liability cover. This means insurers will cover any damage caused by the dog.


Check your dog is legal

It is against the law not to ensure your dog is microchipped. They also need to wear a collar with an ID tag carrying the owner's name and address.

Very often, dogs turn up at rescue centers and are not microchipped, meaning their owner cannot be located and they may end up in kennels or rehomed.


Pick up after your dog

Owners need to make sure they have dog poo bags with them at all times when taking their dogs for a walk.

Dog poo can spread diseases to other animals. It can also be dangerous for humans, not to mention a disgusting inconvenience if people walk through it.

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