As Christmas draws near we are reminded as always that a dog is for life and not just for Christmas. I don't think there is a person I know that doesn't know that. However, there are a few other things that not everyone knows about owning a dog...
For instance did you know that every dog whilst out on a highway* or public place must be wearing a collar with the name and address of its owner on the collar or a plate disc? You may be thinking "Ah ha but my dog is microchipped!". I'm afraid that doesn't matter under the Control of Dogs Order 1992. Laws aside it's much easier for a member of the public to return your dog to you quickly if you have your details on a tag. Having a phone number on there is not obligatory but you might find it gets you your dog back quicker. A friend of mine recently found a lost dog with no identification and while he did take it to a vet who scanned the animal and found a chip, it would have been a lot quicker and easier for the dog to be returned if he could have simply phoned the owner who lived closer to where the dog was than where the vet was located. As it was the owner had to then go and collect the dog herself anyway. She was lucky that she wasn't fined - the Dog wardens can enforce this law and fines of up to £5000 can be given by the Courts for an offence.
So you've spent a serious amount of time and effort training your dog and it now walks obediently to heel wherever you go. Aren't you the envy of the neighbourhood's dog owners? But that hound still needs to be on a lead when you're walking to the shops. A person who causes or permits a dog to be on a designated road without the dog being held on a lead is guilty of an offence according to section 27 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. While I'm sure there is room for interpretation of being on a "road" as opposed to a "pavement", the fact remains that you're likely to have to cross a road at some stage. More importantly life is unpredictable and anything could happen to spook your dog. It's safety should be paramount, so keep it safe and keep it on lead when you're near or beside a road.
No one wants or likes to talk about dog poo but if you own a dog it's something you'll have to pick up every day. If your dog poops any place which is open to the air to which the public or any section of the public has access or in any common passage, close, court stair, back green, garden yard or other similar common area you must clear it up or face a potential fine. People who allow their dogs to foul public places in Aberdeen will receive a fixed penalty of £40, rising to £60 if not paid within 28 days. If the matter goes to court, any person found guilty is liable on conviction to a fine of any amount up to £500. And your responsibility to clear up doesn't just apply to public places. It's your responsibility to keep your garden clear of dog waste too, you have a duty of care to your neighbours so you don't want to be the cause of any health risks (not to mention it's just gross to have a poopy garden) so make sure you go out there and clear up every day if you can but at least every other day if you can't.
As some of you may know I have a background in law and was a paralegal for 6 years but before I could do that I obviously had to study. In amongst all the "law speak" and Latin was a phrase that we heard time and time again. "Ignorance of the law is no excuse". This means that saying "oh officer, I'm sorry, I didn't know that it was against the law to not pick up my dog's mess" won't wash. It doesn't matter whether you know it or not the law is still the law and if you break it you're liable to be punished.
I know that you all love your dogs 365 days a year and not just for Christmas so don't just be a good owner be a great one. Take responsibility and don't let your dog down
* note that public rights of way are highways