Amended Dangerous Dogs Act - What you need to know

19 CommentsTuesday, 13 May 2014  |  D for Dog

postman and dogIn May last year we reported on proposed government measures intended to tackle irresponsible dog ownership - Please see Queen's Speech 2013 - Extension of Dangerous Dogs Legislation

The intention was to close a loophole in the law that makes it difficult to prosecute dog attacks that take place on private property, following a string of attacks on private land.

The amended Dangerous Dogs Act came into effect today, 13th May 2014. It applies to all dog owners and all dog breeds in England and Wales, so please read on to find out how it affects all of us.

The main changes are:

  • It is an offence to own or be in charge of a dangerously out of control dog in a public place and now also on private property (including in your home and garden).

  • If a pet attacks a guide dog or other assistance dog, this is now covered by the amended dangerous dogs legislation.

Dog owners can now be prosecuted if their dog attacks or threatens to attack a person, even if it is on private property.

Animal welfare minister Lord de Mauley says "Irresponsible dog owners will not only face longer prison sentences, but will also be liable for prosecution regardless of where an attack takes place, even in their own home. This will give protection to those who provide vital services in the community - postal workers, nurses, utility workers - as well as people visiting family and friends."

It is important to be aware that being 'dangerously out of control' covers, and has always covered, not just actual biting or harm but also threat of harm.

Last year when the amendments were first proposed, concerns were raised regarding where dog owners stand if their dog attacks a burglar. This has been addressed. Burglars attacked by a dog in the household will not be protected by the amended act. This does not include other persons visiting your home or coming onto your property though.

In light of this, the advice is to make sure your property fences are high enough to contain your dog (and deter anyone likely to try to scale them for whatever reason) and are properly secure. Also make sure that anyone with access to your front door is not confronted by your dog. Think deliveries, the post man, other visitors to your home etc... Barking or lunging at people coming to your property is a behaviour that will need to be addressed. Don't forget, the act deals with threat of harm as well as actual harm.

"You need to make sure that any visitor can safely access your front door without encountering your dog." explains the National Animal Welfare Trust.

To find out more about the changes, visit the National Animal Welfare Trust's website They have also produced this helpful video in which NAWT CEO Clare Williams explain how changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act will affect you.

Dangerous Dogs Act changes 13 May 2014

Wood Green are offering a free talk to help people get to grips with the new law and how it could affect dog owners. The session is being held by Sue Ketland on 10th June 2014 at 7pm. Places are free but limited so booking is essential. Please call 0844 248 8181 x 1281 or email

Their video guide to keeping pets and visitors safe is also useful.

By Jenny Prevel

John Roberts
Sunday, 1 June 2014  |  15:33

Some parts of this law are good, but a lot is absolutely stupid, for one a dog barking will discourge a potential burglar or someone who means to harm you. Great Law.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020  |  14:28

Fine if the dog is trained to bark at a burglar, but f its barking at everyone and nothing for no apparent reason, the animal, and owner of the animal, are not fit for civilization.

Laurie Percival
Sunday, 1 June 2014  |  17:17

I absolutely agree with John's comment above. Also, 'threat' can be perceived rather than real, which is also a worry.
Our house leads straight on to the street.We have a friendly labrador bitch who always barks when anyone approaches, but would never bite anything more than a bonio! Surely it's better to deter people from invading your property with a couple of barks ,than endorse any flexibility in personal arms ownership laws, for example. Barking is also part of a dog's behaviour - it doesn't mean they are being 'threatening'. Our dog barks and wags her tail simultaneously to greet people!

Sunday, 1 June 2014  |  20:44

If one of my 3 pointers barks at a visitor to my front door I could be due a prison sentence, up to 5 years I believe? If I shoot a burglar I will become a national hero..... meanwhile an intruder would be unlucky if they got a slap on the wrist? Another ill thought out law by this stupid government desperate to attract votes with an election looming. Make irresponsible dog owners pay, not all dog owners?

Midge Burke
Sunday, 1 June 2014  |  23:53

I had a letter from the post office last year with reference to my dog! It was couched in the terms of a "perceived threat" it warned me that unless I contacted a named person things would be taken further! I contacted someone, asked what the perceived threat was, he brushed it off by saying it was a standard letter to dog owners! Go figure! I stressed over that letter. I want my dog to bark when someone comes onto my property, I want to know there is someone there, I want them to know that a dog lives here and is guarding us. Unless they actively enter without my invitation, a bark is all that would happen. The laws do not see things from mine and every other home owners point of view.

Thursday, 23 October 2014  |  11:04

You could get a doorbell.

Sunday, 8 May 2016  |  22:03

"you could get a doorbell"

and a polite notice asking burglars and tresspassers to ring it?

Margaret Burden
Monday, 2 June 2014  |  11:10

I agree that parts of this law are stupid I have a timid cocker spaniel who barks at anyone approaching the house or car she would turn tail and run rather than attack anyone. Barking does not necessarily mean you are being threatened.

Rob Holmes
Monday, 2 June 2014  |  11:57

I have a Rhodesian Ridgeback who will bark at people coming up the drive/ringing the door bell even if its me.
That part of the law is quite frankly ridiculous!

I want him to bark to let me know there is someone there it doesn't mean he is going to maul them as soon as they step through the door (more likely lick them to death).

And especially if I am not home I want anyone that comes to the house to know it is potentially guarded. You want a dog to be vigilant about what is going on.

Some people are scared of him because of his size, the next law will say if your dog looks intimidating you will be in trouble.

Grace Wathen
Monday, 2 June 2014  |  16:23

Owners of Dogs that bite or threaten people or other animals in public places should be taken to task as it means that they have not trained their dog properly. I think banning certain breeds is stupid as any dog can be trained to do as the owner says if the owner knows what they are doing and understands dogs. As far as now including private property it should not include if someone has climbed a high fence which keeps a dog in and then gets bitten as has happened a number of years ago when a child climbed over a 6ft high fence and got mauled or killed by the dog behind the fence which was guarding the property. The fault in that case as far as I am concerned was the child's parents as they obviously had not taught their child to respect other people's property. I say there are no bad dogs only bad owners who have no idea on how to train a dog or breeds so I disagree with the dangerous dog act as it is now. If a dog bites someone it is the owners fault and I do not understand why some breeds are banned in the UK as even Pit Bulls can be trained to be calm and submissive. I think the Government ought to contact Ceasar Milan and have him train people in this country to be able to train others how to train a dog properly. What would the Government do if someone came onto private property and tried to abduct a child should the dog let the child be abducted or would it be ok for the dog to bite, maul whatever the person doing it. Perhaps if there had been a dog in the apartment that Madeline McCann was abducted from she would not have been abducted. People have a dog to protect them or their family in certain circumstances.

Laurie Percival
Monday, 2 June 2014  |  20:10

And following on from Grace's comments above , dogs are pack animals and protect their den and members of the pack, and that's part of their natural instinct, but doesn't mean they are 'dangerous' if only there had been a dog in the 'apartment' referred to above...completely agree. This act is barking up the wrong tree!

Friday, 13 October 2017  |  14:44

I wouldn't let Cesar Milan within 100 metres of my dogs with his outdated training methods and use of prong and shock collars. The man is a danger! Otherwise, I pretty much agree with everything else. I have a Rottweiler x Malinois that came to me at 11 months old as an aggressive dog. I was her 5th home. She's now coming up 4. She still demonstrates aggressive behaviour towards strangers entering the property - she was bred to guard and protect. She can stick her head over my 6ft wall to say 'hello' to my neighbours or various cats and squirrels but will sit quietly behind the stairgate in my hall, which I close over every time I answer the door. My German shepherd jumps over it to come to the door with me but the other girl knows she's not allowed and so, doesn't. I am lucky enough to have a porch so postal workers, deliveries etc don't need to access the door to the house and if the dogs are on the front with me, they are leashed to a tie ring for the safety of themselves and neighbourhood cats! They'd run in front of a car to get a cat, which is not something I'm prepared to allow.

I think the barking etc on private property part of the law changes is mainly aimed at people who have dogs running loose in gardens that delivery workers have to access to carry out their job, not a dog in the house barking at the window or door etc.

Jo Birch
Monday, 2 June 2014  |  19:39

Does this mean that people who are hard of hearing and rely on their dogs barking to let them know someone is at the door are going to be prosecuted or jailed? As usual the government just react without truly thinking things through. Time and time again the few bad eggs ruin it for everyone else.

Linda Cordes
Tuesday, 3 June 2014  |  17:17

I have a labradoodle who is very much like a poodle who does like the sound of his own voice as most poodles do - dangerous dog - I don't think so. Another example of punishing all dog lovers because of a few irresponsible people.

Saturday, 7 June 2014  |  18:00

I have a 25kg British Bulldog who often intimidates people out on walks/visitors to the house, but once people stop to talk/stroke her they realise what a big softie she is! Aggression has actually been almost completely bred out of the breed and anybody with even a limited knowledge of dog breeds should really know this; it's sort of our country's national symbol of courage and bravery, but one of the daftest easy-going family dogs you can find! I have encountered a lady on a walk who screamed and held her friend in front of her because she was so petrified, which leads me to worry about the changes in the law because it is a PERCEIVED threat, not an actual bite/harm? So this lady felt threatened because she was scared of dogs, not because my particular dog had threatened her - it's too subjective for my liking, and I worry responsible owners will end up in trouble, and society's underbelly with their untrained/ fighting dogs will still get away with murder! Good to see most of the posts in agreement - I understand why changes needed to be made, for poor postmen, social workers etc, but as always it's gone too far and will become as ridiculous as people sueing McDonalds because they didn't realise their coffee would be hot...!!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015  |  14:12

what a load of rubbish eh " you could face prosicution if your dogs bark at someone." i would never get out from behind bars lol. what about the good people in the world that rescue there dogs. i have a rescue lurcher which was badly beaten buy previous owners he has a horrendous fear of people he doesnt know. we have had 3 trainers work on him and all said it is something that will be with him for life. so those people that comment saying its the owners, have never owned a dog with problems befor. my property is behind locked gates with intercome and 6ft fences all around property. if somesone decide to tresspass onto my property by jumping gates or fences then it should be on there own head. (meter man jumped the gates when i didnt answer him in time. i bet he didnt think he could run that fast) you want a dog that will protect and warn not just lick

Sunday, 3 January 2016  |  9:42

I looked into this after having my home invaded by Scum, luckily my dog wasn't there for his safety not there's but I asked the police what would happen if he hurt them when they broke in they told me my dog would be in trouble, also I have a friend that feels threatened at the sight of most dogs even if they are wagging there tail laid On there backs so how the hell can the this law be fair?? Why can't we as dog owners protect our beloved k9 friend by putting up signs warning of a dog so people stay away call a number or something like that, I feel the only way to protect our dogs at home is to build high fences with tar and glass smeared on the top and a couple of rows of razor whire , I would rather be prosecuted for that then risk my best friend idiots total out of touch idiots, I agree with dogs that might harm others while being out should be mussled and no one should be attacked but just because they don't like the look of my dog its obsered and how long until the Scum pick up on it soon the solicitors will be calling asking if a dog has barked at you in the past three years... It makes me angry just make sure you get to the person entering your home before your dog and make sure you give them a dam good hiding

Sue Davies
Saturday, 20 February 2016  |  10:47

I have just received a letter from a solicitor acting for a delivery man who claims personal injury from a dog bite and psychological injury. He has lied - he did not go to the front door- did not ring the door bell and was not bitten. The truth is he deviated from the normal route for delivery- went round the side of the house towards rear to look at our cars closely and photograph the cars and look inside. My Hunband was in the garage with our golden retriever . The dog barked and went out through the side door of the garage to investigate. The delivery driver had a scratch on his upper arm allegedly from the dog. We invited the driver into the house and dabbed the scratch with surgical spirit and put a plaster on the scratch, which was superficial and not bleeding . He was wearing a short sleeved tee shirt. We don't know if the driver had previously scratched his arm before entering our property. Now our home insurance company is looking at the case.

L Azzopardi
Friday, 7 August 2020  |  1:08

i have never heard nothing so ridiculous in my life

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