Dog Law UK – What if My Dog Bites Somebody?


Despite the fact that dogs are considered to be man’s best friend – incidents happen where dogs bite humans; either their owners, or worse still, someone else. It is a very distressing and frightening experience if your dog bites someone. Holidays4Dogs provides some information regarding the law on dog bites in the UK, along with some general suggestions on how to avoid this upsetting situation.

Statistics for dog bite occurrences in the UK are murky and not easily interpreted. Statistically, injuries to humans caused by dogs, are recorded as ‘strikes’. This means the dog has caused injury other than a bite. In 2015 in the UK, there were some seven thousand admissions to hospital for dog injuries. Alarmingly, over the last ten years, there have been 21 fatalities which have included 13 children.

Statistics suggest that most dog bites are from the family pet. This is why it is vitally important to carefully supervise children and dogs. You can read more on this subject in our other Holidays4Dogs article Children and Dogs.

The number one culprit in terms of breed is, surprisingly, the Labrador retriever. However, any dog is capable of biting no matter what their breed, shape, or size.

The Dangerous Dogs Act (1991).

New amendments were introduced in 2014 to the Dangerous Dog’s Act 1991. Therefore, it is now an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control on private property – not just public areas. It is therefore important for owners to be aware of implications should their dog unfortunately bite someone who may be visiting their home.

All bark and no bite?

What if your dog bites someone, while out walking, or at home?

Crucially, it is also important to understand that your dog does not even have to bite. If a person feels threatened by the behaviour of your dog, even if he does not cause injury, you could still be prosecuted under the D.D.A. This is a very important distinction to be aware of.

Prior to amendments to the D.D.A., hundreds of postal and delivery workers were subject to dog bites every year with no way of pursuing compensation from owners. This has now changed. Therefore, if your dog bites a tradesman, or delivery person, you could face prosecution.

Always have your dog under proper control in public places. If your dog approaches people and other dogs, barking, or jumping up, you could be accused of having a ‘dangerously out of control dog’.

Make sure your dog is not able to come into contact with delivery people, or other strangers coming to the house. This is especially important if your dog is likely to behave aggressively. Most dogs will bark if someone enters their territory. This alone could be enough to land an owner in hot water.


If your dog has a past history of aggression, or you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour – don’t let this get worse. Seek help from a qualified trainer, or behaviourist, to evaluate your dog and suggest an appropriate way of training, or management.

It should be pointed out that while every possible care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is for information purposes only and cannot be regarded as legal advice. If you find yourself affected by any of the above dog laws it is advisable to seek advice immediately. 

Click here for more information from dog law legal specialists.