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Advice on how to be a responsible dog owner.

First published:
21 July 2023
Last updated:

Am I ready for a dog?

Having a dog is a big commitment. You should take time to fully consider all aspects of dog ownership.  Understanding the law and your legal duties which apply to dog ownership is very important

The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs explains what you need to do to meet the standard of care the law requires. If you are a parent or guardian of a child less than 16 years old, you are responsible for any animal that the child is in charge of.

Our Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs

For information on whether you are ready for a dog, visit:

Pet Cost Calculator | RSPCA

Should I get a dog? 10 questions to ask yourself | Dogs Trust

Getting or buying a dog | Dogs Trust

Dog laws UK | Blue Cross

What breed of dog is right for me?

There are hundreds of breeds and types of dogs. Choosing the right one for you can be overwhelming. Don’t choose a dog based on looks alone without researching its behavioural and health needs. It is important to learn about the breed you are interested in to ensure it will be the right fit for you and your lifestyle.

For information on what breed may be suitable for you, visit:

Which dog breed is right for you? | Blue Cross

Getting or buying a dog | Dogs Trust

Dog Breeds - Traits, Size & Behaviour | RSPCA

How do I look after my dog?

Under the Animal Welfare Act (Gov.UK) you must be able to meet a dog’s five needs, those are:

  • their need for a suitable environment
  • their need for a suitable diet
  • their need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • any need they have to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • their need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

For information on looking after your dog and its needs, visit:

Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs

How To Look After a Dog - Dog Facts | RSPCA

Responsible Dog Ownership | How We Help | Dogs Trust

Dog Warm Weather Safety Tips and Help | Dogs Trust

Looking after your pets in the cost of living crisis (

How to puppy proof your home and garden | Blue Cross

How do I get a dog?

Once you have decided you are ready for a dog, you need to consider whether adopting or buying from a reputable breeder is the right thing for you.

If you are adopting from a rescue centre, please use a reputable centre.  Similarly, before you buy from a breeder, know their licence status. Licensed breeders are those who have three or more breeding bitches. If someone only has one or two breeding bitches they do not require a licence.

Either way, you should still always see the puppy with its mother before purchasing.

Your local authority will have details of licensed breeders.

Getting or buying a dog | Dogs Trust

How do I deal with anti-social behaviour?

If you are concerned about the behaviour of a dog and it’s owner you can report your concerns to the Local authority or the Police.

Under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 the Police and Local Authorities can issue Community Protection Warnings (CPWs). These state that the owner should stop doing certain behaviour. If this is not adhered to a Community Protection Notice (CPNs) can be issued. These can include specific requirements such as:

  • wearing a lead or muzzle in public
  • attending dog training
  • ensuring that your garden is securely enclosed so a dog can’t escape.

To breach a CPN is a criminal offence and could lead to a level 4 fine (maximum of £2,500).   

Please contact your Local Authority or call 101 to report and incidents.

How can I get my children involved?

Dogs on leads

Dogs worrying livestock

Countryside advice