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Dangerous dogs

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 came into force on 12th August 1991:

The police are the instigating authority for legal action under this legislation. We help and support the police for this, especially in advising and educating owners.

Keep your dog under control at all times

If you come across an unfriendly dog, here are a few tips to avoid a problem:

Recognising danger zones

There are certain times and places where a dog is more likely to be aggressive. By being aware of these, you may avoid being bitten. If you are a dog owner, you may be able to prevent your dog from biting someone else. If you have a dog that is aggressive, you should seek professional advice before someone is injured. Danger zones include:

Supervising dogs with children

Dogs and small children should never be left together unsupervised. No matter how good natured the dog is, a dangerous situation could develop if the dog is hurt, frightened, cornered or feels threatened. Children must not hug and kiss dogs. Many bites on children's faces result from the child trying to hug a dog. Children must be taught to handle animals gently and carefully. Adults supervising dogs with children should be aware of potentially dangerous situations:

Your dog may need to be trained to wear a muzzle for safety if you are at all uncertain about how it will react to children. Remember to praise and reward your dog for good behaviour. Obedience training will help you to control your dog's behaviour.

Recognising early signs of aggression

Does your dog ever tense up, stare, raise its hackles, growl, lift its lips or snap when:

Does your dog lunge out at people or dogs when out walking? Does it rush out barking and growling at passers-by? If the answer is "yes" to any of these situations, your dog may be aggressive. These are the early warning signs. You need to seek professional advice, as its behaviour is likely to get worse, not better, with time. Don't wait until someone has is bitten. The sooner you get help, the more easily the problem can be solved.

Does your dog get very nervous, cower away or try to run away from children, adults or other dogs? If the answer is "yes", your dog could be dangerous if it ever feels threatened or cornered and may attack out of fear. You need to seek professional advice to help your dog overcome its fear. If you are concerned about your dog's behaviour, please consult your vet, who may be able to help or refer you to an animal behaviourist. Your dog may also require further socialisation and obedience training.

Common myths

Myth 1

Only certain breeds of dogs will attack people.

False! Any age, breed, sex and size of dog may bite. Some dogs or breeds may be more likely to bite than others if not socialised, trained and controlled properly. What the dog owner does with the dog after it is born is more important in preventing aggression than the dog's breeding.


Myth 2

Only cross-breed dogs bite.

False! Pedigree dogs will bite for the same reasons as cross breeds and as often.


Myth 3

A dog that attacks livestock or other animals is always a danger to people as well.

False! Not all dogs which attack other animals are dangerous to people.


Myth 4

Dogs only attack if the person has provoked the dog by teasing or cruelty.

False! Dog attacks can be provoked accidentally and the victim is not always to blame.


Myth 5

Dogs will bite people if they are fed fresh meat.

False! A dog's diet will not make it attack people.


Myth 6

It is normal for a dog to growl or snap at you or other people occasionally.

False! These are early warning signs of aggression and must be taken seriously. You should get professional advice immediately.

More information

You can get more information can at Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 External Hyperlink or by contacting us at us or on 01329 236100.

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