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The amended Dangerous Dogs Act comes into effect in England and Wales on 13 May 2014. This law applies to all dog owners no matter what size or breed, whether your pet is a Chihuahua, a Cockapoo or a Collie cross. We are now held more responsible than ever with a huge increase in fines or jail time.
There is a slight grey area in these changes in that if the person attacked is a burglar or trespasser your dog may not be considered dangerously out of control if it is in a building that is your private dwelling at the time of the attack. However, this does not cover incidents in your back or front garden so while the law is yet to be tested, all dog owners should ensure that all areas of their gardens where their dogs could encounter unexpected visitors are secure.
If necessary it is also worth talking to your neighbours and asking them not to let their children climb your fences to retrieve balls etc to be on the safe side.
Manage your dog when someone knocks at the door
Not all breeds are dangerous
We all know that fewer letters are being sent through the post, but the rise in internet shopping means that more parcels and especially signed for parcels are being delivered, which requires the delivery person to knock at the door. This change in legislation should be a wake up call to all dog owners to ensure their dogs are under control when they open the door otherwise they risk committing a criminal offence.
It is not unusual for a dog to be reactive to any visitor to your door, so you need to decide now how you are going to manage that situation. The easiest thing to do is to shut your dog in another room or in the garden, provided of course the dog cannot access the front door from the garden. If that is not an option, then you will need to seek the services of a qualified dog trainer or behaviourist to teach your dog some new behaviours around the door.
You also need to consider how your dog greets people. What you view as a dog being friendly by jumping up at visitors may be seen as threatening behaviour by a stranger.
Owning a dog is a huge responsibility and should not be taken lightly, however by taking some time to think about what these changes mean to you and your dog, you will be taking steps to keep everyone safe and avoid ending up in a position that no one wants to find themselves in.