Understanding the Law of the Dog: What Dog Owners Need to Know

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Having a dog as your pet is exciting. It keeps you occupied and content. It teaches you how to be compassionate to other dogs and animals.

Along with all of these comes a sense of responsibility that you need to maintain. As a dog owner, there are things that you should do to your dog as well as to society.

Your dog should not cause any trouble to society. You should train it before taking it out in public. 

Certain laws govern the upbringing of the dog. All dog owners should ensure that their dog adheres to local laws.

If you are unaware of the law on dogs in the US, here is a comprehensive article that will cover the topic in detail.

Understanding the Law of the Dog

Law on Dogs

The law on dogs changes according to where you live. The laws applicable in the US may not be applicable in the UK. 

Knowing each country’s laws is vital, especially if you move to another country and have a pet dog over there.

Here are the laws that apply to dogs in the US.

Microchip Your Dog

Breeders should microchip their puppies before giving them away and be registered as their first owners. The new owners should get this information updated once they get their puppies.

One thing to note is that a microchip is not a GPS-tracking device. They don’t provide location tracking facilities. 

The microchip is inserted into your dog’s skin and provides your contact details and other important information.

The person who finds the dog can scan to find the microchip ID number and find out the owner’s details by contacting the microchip’s registry. 

Dogs Must Wear a Collar With a Tag in Public Places

All dogs must wear a collar with a tag that has relevant details when going to public places. The rabies tag is required but having contact information is optional.

Responsible dog ownership extends beyond standard identification tags; it includes training your pet for appropriate public behavior. A strong shock collar for dogs can be an effective tool for maintaining control and reinforcing commands, particularly in situations where your dog may become excited or distracted.

The information on the tag will help people identify a lost dog and contact its rightful owner. Therefore, it’s vital to have as many vital contact details of the owner as possible.

Dogs can easily get lost when out in public. It could be in the park or at the beach. Therefore, you must ensure that your dog wears the collar with a tag before stepping out of the house.

You Must Pick Up Your Dog’s Mess

You must clean up the mess your dog makes in any public place. It is a significant cause of concern about water pollution and public health.

The law could even impose a fine on anyone who doesn’t adhere to this practice. Failure to clean up in such a manner leads to a series of environmental issues, including the following:

  • Water pollution
  • Algae blooms
  • Reduces Oxygen levels.

However, the law is in place due to a public sanitation and health issue. The law says that each dog owner must remove feces left by their dog on the street, sidewalk, gutter, or any other public area. He should dispose of it by following legal procedures.

Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Welfare Act ensures a dog’s physical and mental needs are met. It was brought in to protect dogs from pain, injury, suffering, and disease.

You are also not supposed to scuff, kick, hit, or hand your dog by its collar, as these acts could lead to prosecution. 

You should also seek veterinary advice for any physical or behavioral problems your dog suffers. You should be concerned about your dog’s physical and mental well-being.

Federal law states rules concerning the transportation and sales of animals, including dogs. It restricts importing dogs for resale or use in animal fighting ventures. 

Breed-Specific Legislation

Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL) in the US is about regulating and banning specific dog breeds identified as dangerous. The legislation was enacted to decrease dog attacks on people and other animals. 

Regulated breeds are typically Pitbulls, including American Pitbull Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and English Bull Terriers.

Some states have regulated breeds like American Bulldogs, Dalmatians, Mastiffs, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and any mix of these breeds.

States like New York, Illinois, and Texas, track and regulate dangerous dogs, irrespective of their breed. Over 700 cities have approved breed-specific laws regarding dangerous dogs.

Public Places Protection Act

Public places protection laws have put in place dog control orders to ensure that pet dogs don’t disturb the public. According to this law, it is an offense to conduct the following:

  • Not to keep your dog on a leash
  • Not to put your dog on a leash when asked to do so by an authorized individual
  • Not to clean up your dog’s feces
  • To take dogs to lands that they are prohibited from entering
  • To walk more than a certain number of dogs at once, usually more than 6

If you see any area with a signboard restricting dogs from entering, you must follow those orders and not let your dog go there.

Protection of Livestock Act

According to this law, your dog shouldn’t cause harm to livestock, including cows, goats, sheep, horses, and pigs.

The owner will be offended if his dog chases livestock on agricultural land. It’s also the same when the dog is not under close control on land containing sheep, goats, etc.

According to law, farmers can have dogs who come in such a manner to their lands. Therefore, ensure to keep your dogs away from these areas. 

Environmental Protection Act

According to this law, your dog should not cause trouble or disturbances to the neighbors. It was brought in to prevent dogs from causing serious neighborhood disturbances.

If your dog is being a nuisance to those around you, you will first be notified. At that point, you need to take adequate steps to prevent this from happening again. If the nuisance barking continues, the prosecution may occur.

The factors considered to determine nuisance barking include the duration, volume, and time of the day it occurs.

If it continues, you need to seek behavioral advice for your dog to stop the nuisance barking.

The Road Traffic Act

Dogs should not be on a specifically-stated road without being on a leash, which is an offense. 

Also, a dog traveling in a car with you should not distract you or anyone in the car. It should also not be a nuisance to other cars and passers-by.

Therefore, having a loose dog jumping around the vehicle is an offense.

Third-Party Liability Claims

If your dog causes damage to a person or property, you are liable for it if the incident occurred due to your negligence, and you don’t have third-party insurance.

It usually occurs if you fail to do something you ought to have done. It could also be because your dog behaved in the same manner before this incident, and you were aware of it.

Breeding Laws

Dog breeding is legal in the US as long as the breeder is not conducting any activity that would be registered as animal cruelty. 

Some dog breeders may require a license, especially when they reach certain thresholds. One factor that affects this is the amount of litter produced in a year.

Therefore, although dog breeding is perfectly acceptable in the US, some laws govern it and, thereby, impose restrictions.


Having a dog is fun but also comes with a lot of responsibility. You are responsible for your dog and accountable for its behavior, especially in public.

As dogs have their way of things, you never know how they will behave or react at any particular time. However, some laws govern how dogs should behave when taken to public places.

Understanding the law of dogs is vital for every dog owner. Failure to do so will be termed as an offense and could even lead to paying fines.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should You Be Aware of When Buying a Dog?

Taking care of a dog is a huge responsibility. You must ensure that you can commit to taking care of it, adjust your home and lifestyle, and make your home pet-friendly.

What Are the Legal Responsibilities of a Dog Owner?

Have your dog microchipped so it’s registered, and keep it securely confined to the place it is kept. Also, keep it on a leash when taking it to public places. It will help keep your dog from getting into trouble or involved in unwanted things. 

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