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Changes To The Dangerous Dogs Act 2014 - What All Dog Owners Need To Know

The Dangerous Dogs Act is an act of Parliament, which regulates or prohibits the ownership of certain breeds of dog, and sets out the rules and guidelines for how dogs that are deemed to be dangerous or potentially dangerous are dealt with in law. Essentially, the original law effectively bans ownership of four breeds of dog within the UK: The Fila Brasileiro, the Dogo Argentino, the Japanese Tosa, and the Pit Bull Terrier. However, it also covers the process in law to govern what happens to any dog of any breed that is considered to pose a risk to people, and this is something that not all dog owners are aware of.

An amendment to the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) came into force in law on the 13th May 2014, and this amendment is something that all dog owners need to know about, whether their dog be a large, guarding breed, or the smallest teacup Chihuahua.

Here is what you need to know.

Section three of the DDA applies to all dog owners

Section three of the Dangerous Dogs Act previously stated that it is a criminal offence for a person in charge of a dog (whether or not they are the dog’s owner) to allow the dog to be “dangerously out of control” in a public place. If the dog in question bites another person or attacks another dog or other pet, this will almost certainly fall under the remit of being “dangerously out of control in a public place,” but a bite or other physical attack is not always necessary for a dog to be deemed dangerously out of control.

If another person legitimately feels that an out-of-control dog poses or posed a threat to them, and might injure them due to a lack of control on the part of the dog’s handler, this may be enough for the dog and owner in question to fall foul of the law.

This element of the Act is relevant to all dogs, regardless of breed.

What has changed as part of the 13th May amendment to the Act?

Section three of the Dangerous Dogs Act, outlined above, is relevant to all dog owners, but previously, only applied to incidents that happened within public places, such as in the street or in the park.

However, the amendments to the act that came into force on 13th May means that the “in a public place” caveat has now been withdrawn, and the “dangerously out of control” element is relevant for dogs regardless of where they are, even within your own home or enclosed garden.

Other additional powers have been inferred as part of the law too, including the following:

  • It is now an offence if your dog attacks an assistance dog (such as a guide dog or a hearing dog for deaf people)
  • Prison sentences will be increased from previous levels upon conviction of certain offences
  • The Police or their locally appointed authority now have the powers to seize a dog that they consider to be “dangerously out of control” from private land, as well as the previous allowance for seizure in public places.

How can dog owners ensure that they stay on the right side of the law?

With the enhanced powers now in place as part of the DDA, it is vitally important that all dog owners act now, to protect their dogs, other people, and their own interests.

Remember: Section three of the Dangerous Dogs Act applies to all dogs, regardless of breed.

Here are a few steps that you can take to help to ensure that your dog does not pose a hazard to other people when they are on your private property.


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Ensure safe access to your front door

Whether you invite visitors over or a stranger calls on you or delivers something to you, it is vitally important that people can reach your front door safely without running the risk of your dog facing up to them. If your dog spends time outside on their own in the front or back garden, it is essential that they can be trusted not to harangue visitors, or that you can put up a fence or barrier along your path to allow visitors to reach your door safely. Remember to consider whether or not taller dogs might be able to get their head over the fence into the range of someone on the path too!

Secure your garden and grounds

Ensure that any outdoor areas that your dog uses are secure, and that people cannot inadvertently wander into your dog’s territory or range without you knowing. Check your walls and fences, and make any necessary improvements. Signs to alert people to the presence of your dog and to use the front path are a good idea, but these alone will not serve as protection in law if your dog attacks someone.

Manage your dog when someone comes to the door

When someone calls on you, it is vital that when you open the door to them, your dog is held back or closed away if they are liable to cause an issue. Always restrain your dog and ensure that they cannot escape when you open the door, or bound up to a stranger uncontrolled.

Ensure that your dog cannot bite someone’s hand through the letterbox

As any postal worker will tell you, some dogs get a real bee in their bonnets about the mail delivery, and some dogs will even try to snatch the mail or any stray fingers through the letterbox. While postal workers are trained not to put their fingers into a letterbox, the onus is not on the delivery officer to prevent your dog from biting them through the letterbox; this responsibility is on you.

If your dog is apt to try to bite or snatch through the letterbox, install a mesh cage on the back of the door, to keep your dog’s teeth a safe distance from both your mail, and other people’s fingers.


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