Access for owners and dogs


Key Facts

  • There is growing evidence that pet owners experience improved physical, mental and emotional health
  • Studies have shown pet owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Research has demonstrated that pet owners have lower levels of mental stress and feelings of loneliness and depression and higher self-esteem

The situation

Under the Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2005, local authorities were given the power to introduce Dog Control Orders (DCOs) in order to address dog related issues in open spaces. The DCOs can include dog exclusion orders, dogs on lead orders, dogs on lead by direction orders, removing dog foul orders and orders limiting a number of dogs walked by one person. Any proposed DCOs must be advertised for consultation in local newspapers.

Whilst no record is held regarding how many DCOs have been implemented in England and Wales, access officers in local authorities have indicated that there has been an increasing amount of restrictions placed on dog owners every year. This trend has impacted on dog walkers, some of whom have been dispersed onto sensitive land which has caused wider negative effects to both plant and animal life, and thereby causing further restrictions being placed on dogs and their owners.

From October 20th 2014, Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) will be introduced under the Anti-social behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and will replace DCOs. The local authorities will have similar powers to introduce orders, except there will be no requirement for them to advertise PSPO consultations in local newspapers.

The KC view

The Kennel Club campaigns for dogs to enjoy maximum access to the UK's open spaces. We do not oppose restrictions, as long as they are evidence-based and proportionate and, in cases where access is restricted, that alternative suitable space is provided for owners and their dogs.

The Kennel Club engages with councils to discuss problems and possible solutions to avoid the introduction of restrictions. Detailed studies have shown that greater compliance can be achieved by engaging positively with dog owners through themes that are important to them.

These positive alternatives embody the principle of integrated access management, which recognises the many benefits dogs bring to society, is balanced against the need to address dog associated issues.

Where we are

The Kennel Club established a dog owners group, KC Dog in 2005, in order to establish a grassroots group of activist dog owners to campaign and keep updated about Dog Control Orders and other access issues that affect them.

Access issues largely stem from the introduction of either Dog Control Orders which local authorities were permitted to introduce following the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 or Public Space Protection Orders, which replaced Dog Control Orders under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2015. The Orders can be introduced to exclude dogs from certain areas, ensure dogs are kept on leads in certain areas and limit the number of dogs a person can walk for example.

Some Orders may be considered reasonable by local dog owners, whilst others may be more restrictive and therefore less welcome. Public Space Protection Orders are not required to be published for consultation via the local media, as was the case with Dog Control Orders. However, Defra do advise that prior to introducing Public Space Protection Order, local authorities consult with local dog owners groups such as KC Dog.

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More information

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Related Topics

Countryside Code Responsible Dog Ownership
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