A DOG OWNER’S GUIDE

A basic guide to the welfare requirements for your dog

As dog owners, we all love our dogs & want to do the best for them, these basic guides aim to point out some simple welfare requirements for your animals, pointing out various legislations, grooming requirements & emergency 1st Aid situations……

Legislation & Legal Requirements

The Animal Welfare Act (2006), contains general laws relating to animal welfare. It is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal. The Act states, people who own, work or deal with animals, have a Duty of Care to all animals, meaning that anyone responsible for an animal must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the animals needs are met, so the person has to look after the animals welfare as well as ensure it does not suffer.

Breach of the code is not an offence, however should proceedings be made against you for an offence under Section 9 of The Animal Welfare Act (2006), the court will access your compliance with the act in deciding if you have committed an offence.

The ‘Code of Practice for the Welfare of Dogs’ which stipulates the 5 needs……

The need for a suitable Diet                               

  • Provide fresh, clean water at all times.
  • Your dog will require a well-balanced diet to remain fit & healthy. How much your dog needs to eat can vary, dependant on age, general health and how active he is. Remember overfeeding can lead to your dog becoming overweight & unhappy.
  • Once you have decided on an appropriate diet, stick to it, constantly changing diets can upset a dog stomach, causing sickness & diarrhoea.
  • ‘Treats’ should only be given to reward & not constantly or as a meal supplement.        

The need for the animal to exhibit normal behaviour         

  • Dogs need regular exercise, including opportunities to walk, run & play outside, this will also help to keep him / her stimulated.
  • Dogs are playful animals & enjoy having fun with toys, other dogs & humans.
  • Create a relaxed environment to help alleviate fear or anxiety.
  • Provide sufficient space & facilities to be on their own if they wish.
  • Dogs behaviour can be dictated by his personality, age, breed or past experiences.

The need to be protected from pain & suffering          

  • Ensure that you are registered with a vet & take your dog for at least an annual health check at the vets.
  • Check your dog for signs of injury or illness every day & ensure that flea & tick treatments are kept up to date.
  • Make sure your dog’s coat is maintained in a good condition, via regular brushing & grooming.
  • Dogs should be vaccinated, or otherwise treated regularly, against canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, leptospirosis and infectious canine hepatitis.
  • Administer appropriate 1st aid if needed.

The need to provide a suitable environment     

  • Provide clean & suitable place for your dog to rest, this should include…..
  • Holding units (Dog Crates) – can provide a ‘den’ which some dogs will feel safe & secure in, it should have adequate ventilation & a suitable environmental temperature. They can also be used as a training aid, but should not be used for punishment.
  • Bedding – should be big enough & made of a suitable material.

The need to housed with, or apart from others                      

  • Dogs are sociable animals & enjoy the company of both other dogs & people.
  • Animals in the same home, can be housed together, but ensure that they have the space to be apart if needed.
  • Do not leave your dog in a situation where he may be accidently harmed or frightened.

Control of Dogs Order 1992, states that when in public your dog must wear both a collar & a tag. The tag must contain your name & address, a telephone number would also be helpful. Ensure that your details are kept up to date.

Microchipping of Dogs Regulations, made it compulsory, since April 2016 (in England) for owners to have their dogs microchipped. The law also stipulates that the owner is responsible for keeping all of the contact information up to date. Failure to have your dog chipped or keep your details up to date can result in a fine.

Stray Dogs, Having a collar and tag are essential in case he goes missing. Should your dog go missing your local authority should be your first point of contact, they have the responsibility for strays and may charge you a fee to reclaim your dog. If a dog is not claimed within 7 days the local authority has the right to rehome or euthanise the dog.

Up-to-date identification will make it easier for your dog to be reunited with you.

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, It is a criminal offence to allow your dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’ either in a public place or on private property.

A ‘dangerously out of control’ dog can be defined as a dog that has injured someone or, a dog that a person has grounds to reasonably believe, may injure somebody. Something as simple as your dog chasing, barking at or jumping up at a person or child could result in an investigation, so ensure your dog is under control at all times.

If your dog injures somebody, it may be seized and if convicted you could face a lengthy prison sentence and/or a fine. Your dog could also be euthanised (unless you can persuade the Courts that it is not a danger to the public, in which case it may be subject to a control order).

Under the same law it is also a criminal offence if your dog attacks an assistance dog.

Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, Dogs must never worry livestock, the owner or whoever is responsible for the dog at the time will be committing an offence if the dog chases, attacks or causes suffering to livestock.

A police officer may seize a dog suspected to be worrying livestock and if convicted of an offence under this Act then a person may be liable to a maximum fine of £1,000.

A farmer is able to shoot any dog worrying livestock if there are no other reasonable means for stopping the dog from doing this. To avoid this, keep your dog on a lead at all times when livestock are around.

The Dog Fouling Act 1996, Requires you, or whoever is responsible for the dog at the time, to clean up after your dog. Failure to do so can result in a fine. Don’t be caught out, make sure your pockets are well stocked with poo bags whenever you and your dog are out and about, ensure you dispose of the bag properly.

The UK Highway Code & The Road Traffic Act 1988, Both legislations contain items concerning your dog…..

  • In the car, dogs must be suitably restrained, so that they cannot distract you whilst you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. Make sure you have a seat belt harness or other suitable method such as a dog guard or crate for restraining your dog in the car.
  • On some designated roads, as well as all motorways, it is an offence to have your dog off the lead. Local authorities can also make it a requirement for dogs to be kept on leads in certain areas such as some public gardens and parks.

Sources:

Gov.UK – Animal Welfare               Google Images              The Animal Welfare Act (2006)    RSPCA

Pet Rebellion                                    Labs2Love Rescue       Auto specifics info

Slideshare.net                                  Professors House         Huggle Pets

Fleximed – 1st Aid for pets              1st Aid Kits for Dogs