The Dangerous Dogs Act – Be aware of how it could apply to you and your dog even if your dog is acting fearfully and has innocently worried someone!
It is more important than ever to understand the current law and how it can be interpreted. Under the Act it is illegal for a dog to be “out of control” or to bite or attack someone. OK, so this may seem obvious, but the legislation now makes it an offence if a person is “worried or afraid” of a dog and they feel that it is out of control.
‘Dangerously out of control’ is defined as being ‘on any occasion on which there are grounds for reasonable apprehension that it will injure any person or assistance dog’. The important part of the phrase is that there can be “reasonable apprehension” that a dog will bite – so dogs must be under control at all times and in all places – including on private property.
It is also an offence for a dog to attack and assitance dog and this can carry a penalty of up to three years in prison.
With the risk extending to private property, it is therefore important to make sure your dog is trained to cope with visitors, that it is under control when work people enter the house and is well managed when the doorbell rings or letters arrive. It your dog has behavioural issues in these areas, it is sensible to train the dog to a crate or shut it in another room temporarily during these times. These behaviours should be addressed and alternative desired behaviours taught and encouraged using positive reward based methods. Dogs should be taught to interact with visitors safely and if it is not possible to do this for some reason for example during the initial behaviour modification process, then a dog should have its own personal space and safe area. Visitors must also be advised about how, when and if to approach a dog in the home when they are there. Keeping a dog in control and safe is vitally important around children, this is because children often behave and move differently from adults and can often provoke reactions from dogs just because a dog does not read the child’s body language as well.
If you are having any of these issues with your dog or if your dog is not dog social and may show some reaction to another dog or object which could be misinterpreted by someone so that they feel they are threatened and not safe, thus rendering your dog “out of control”, then address these as soon as possible and seek help with behaviour modification methods.
Leadchanges is happy to help in all these areas and offers a clear, easy to understand programme to follow to redirect unwanted behaviours into desired behaviours and provides guidance about how to help you deal with situations as you go through a behaviour modification programme.