The Dog Business

The legal and regulatory landscape


In October 2018, The Animal Activities Licensing Regulations 2018, was brought into effect in England. This regulation governs dog boarding and day care practices. The regulation is intended to improve the quality of dog day care and dog boarding services and to standardise the licensing process.

The Animal Activities Licensing Regulations have not yet been brought into effect in Scotland and Wales. In Scotland and Wales dog boarding and day care is governed by the Animal Boarding Establishment Act 1963.

The Animal Activities Licensing Regulations 2018  require providers of dog-care to hold a valid Dog Boarding or Dog Day Care licence to operate:

  • The dog carer operates in England
  • The dog carer offers either overnight boarding or day care services at their home.
  • The dog carer is running a business or operating on a commercial basis.

It is a criminal offence to provide day-care or boarding for dogs without a licence.

Currently, legislation doesn’t require a licence to provide dog walking services.

Key legislation

Here is a list of legislation and regulations that impacts the professional dog carer in the UK.

  • Animal Welfare Act 2006 (England and Wales)
  • Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006
  • The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (part of the Animal Welfare Act 2006)
  • Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011
  • Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
  • The Control of Dogs Order 1992
  • Countryside & Right of Way Act 2000
  • Dangerous Dogs Act 1991
  • The Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997
  • Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996
  • Dog Fouling – Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005
  • Dogs Protection of Livestock Act 1953
  • Environmental Protection Act 1990
  • Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • The Microchipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015
  • The Microchipping of Dogs (Wales) Regulations 2015
  • Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
  • Regulation on the protection of animals during transport (EC) 1 /2005
  • Welfare of Animals (Transport)(England) Order 2006
  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

NB Be aware and fully understand the legislation within your own jurisdiction. Check and understand the local authority bylaws for your location.

Some meat on the legislative bones

Animal Welfare
Animal Welfare Act 2006
The Act increased and introduced new penalties to tackle acts of cruelty, neglect, mutilation, tail docking, animal fighting and giving pets as prizes. In addition to this it introduced a duty of care for all pet owners to provide for their animals a suitable environment, a suitable diet, the ability to exhibit normal behaviour patterns, protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease and consideration of the animal’s needs to be housed with, or apart from, other animals.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 also applies in Wales. In Scotland the Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 makes similar provisions, as does the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005
Under this Act, you could be fined up to £1,000 for breaching Dog Control Orders. Dog Control Orders were introduced by some local authorities for offences including: failing to remove dog faeces, not keeping a dog on a lead, not putting and keeping a dog on a lead when directed to do so, permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded and taking more than a specified number of dogs on to land.

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act also updated the law on stray dogs by transferring the responsibility for strays from the police to the local authorities.

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
Since October 2014, Dog Control Orders have been replaced by ‘Public Spaces Protection Orders’ introduced under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The local authorities will have similar powers to introduce orders except there will be no requirements to advertise PSPO consultations in local newspapers.

Dog Control Orders and ‘Public Spaces Protection Orders’ do not apply in Scotland. Scotland is covered by different legislation that covers most land north of the border; in England, Wales and Northern Ireland specific areas are designated instead.

Dog Identification
The Control of Dogs Order 1992

This mandates that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the name and address of the owner engraved or written on it, or engraved on a tag.

Your telephone number is optional (but advisable).

The Kennel Club can provide tags.

Certain dogs are exempt from having to wear a collar with a dog tag. They are:

  • Any dog registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
  • Any dog while being used in emergency rescue work.
  • Any dog while being used on official duties by a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, HM Customs and Excise or the police.
  • Any dog while being used for driving or tending cattle or sheep.
  • Any dog while being used for the capture or destruction of vermin.
  • Any dog while being used for sporting purposes.
  • Any pack of hounds.

Compulsory mircochipping of dogs
It is now a legal requirement to have your dog microchipped in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. All dogs must be microchipped by the time they are eight weeks of age and registered with a database compliant with the regulations, such a Petlog.

All breeders will need to microchip their puppies and register themselves as the first keeper of the puppy, before they are transferred to a new keeper.’The new keeper will

also be responsible for updating the microchip with their details.

Nuisance and Dangerous Dogs
Community Protection Notices and Byelaws on noisy animals.

If your dog’s barking causes a serious nuisance to neighbours, the local authority can serve a noise abatement notice, or Community Protection Notice, which if unheeded can result in you paying fines and legal expenses.

Animals Act 1971
You could be liable for damage caused by your dog under this Act or under some degree of negligence. It is highly advisable to have third party liability insurance to cover this, something that is included in most pet and some household insurance policies.

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (section 3)
It is a criminal offence (for the owner and/or the person in charge of the dog) to allow a dog to be ‘dangerously out of control’. A ‘dangerously out of control’ dog can be defined as a dog that has injured someone or a dog that a person has grounds for reasonable apprehension that it may do so. Something as simple as your dog chasing, barking at or jumping up at a person or child could lead to a complaint, so ensure that your dog is under control at all times. If your dog injures a person, it may be seized by the police and your penalty may include a prison sentence and/or a ban on keeping dogs. There is also an automatic presumption that your dog will be destroyed (unless you can persuade the court that it is not a danger to the public, in which case it may be subject to a control order). You may also have to pay a fine, compensation and costs.

Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997
The 1991 Act was amended by the Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Act 1997. The 1997 Act removed the mandatory destruction order provisions on banned breeds and re- opened the Index of Exempted Dogs for dogs which the courts consider would not pose a risk to the public. The courts were given discretion on sentencing, with only courts able to direct that a dog be placed on the list of exempted dogs.

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
The Government recently introduced legislative changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and introduced the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act to:

  • Extend section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 in order that it covers incidents that take place on private property (as well as in public places)
  • Remove the mandatory requirement for police to seize and kennel prohibited dogs which they do not consider to be of risk to the public
  • ntroduce Control Orders to prevent incidences of dog aggression.

Similar legislation exists in other jurisdictions in the UK.

The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010
In Scotland, the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 came into force in February 2011 and is enforced alongside the Dangerous Dogs Act to tackle irresponsible dog ownership through the introduction of Dog Control Notices. The legislation also allows for prosecutions to be made in cases where an incident has occurred on private property, as well as in public places and removes any reference to a dog’s ‘size and power’ when determining whether or not it is out of control.

The Dogs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011
In Northern Ireland the Dangerous Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 was recently updated with the Dogs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. This Act:

  • Makes the microchipping of dogs compulsory
  • Allows for dog wardens to attach conditions to a dog licence where a dog’s behaviour has led to a breach of the Dogs Order (similar to a Dog Control Notice)
  • Extends dangerous dogs legislation to cover private property
  • Increases the dog licence fee to £12.50 (with some exceptions)
  • Makes it an offence to have a dog that attacks and injures another person’s pet

Transport and animals
The Road Traffic Act 1988

Dogs travelling in vehicles should not be a nuisance or in any way distract the driver during a journey.

If a dog is injured in a car accident, the driver must stop and give their details to the person in charge of the dog. If there is no person in charge of the dog, the incident must be reported to the police within 24 hours.


The dog business


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