Dog Code Of Welfare

Owning and caring for a dog can be a source of great enjoyment, but dog ownership is also a major responsibility. If you own or are responsible for a dog, and fail to meet its welfare needs or cause it unnecessary suffering, you may be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act. The following is a guide to the responsibilities of dog ownership taken from the government's code of practice for the welfare of dogs.

Following these will ensure that your dog has all of its needs provided and keep you within the law.

Providing a suitable environment

  • Your dog should have a safe, clean environment with adequate protection from hazards (hazards include unprotected balconies or open windows, household or garden chemicals, poisonous plants)
  • Your dog needs a comfortable, clean, dry, quiet, draught-free rest area. This is especially important for a dog that lives outside.
  • Your dog needs a place it can go to avoid things that frighten it.
  • Your dog needs access to a place, away from its resting area, which it can use as a toilet area regularly as needed.
  • Wherever you leave your dog make sure that it always has a comfortable area which protects it from becoming too hot or too cold. (e.g. avoid hot cars in summer)

Providing a suitable diet

  • Your dog needs clean fresh drinking water at all times and should be able to reach food and water easily.
  • Your dog needs a balanced diet that is suitable for its individual needs and maintains a stable weight that is neither over nor underweight.
  • Dogs that have special needs (including puppies) need diets that meet their individual requirements. If you are uncertain what to do you should seek advice on feeding your dog from one of our members of staff.
  • Feed your adult dog at least once each day, unless advised otherwise by your vet.

Allowing normal behaviour

  • Make sure your dog has enough to do so that it does not become distressed or bored. It should have access to safe toys and suitable objects to play with and chew.
  • Ensure that your dog can rest undisturbed when it wants to. Puppies and older animals may need more rest.
  • Provide your dog with regular opportunities for exercise and play with people or other friendly dogs.
  • Give your dog the exercise it needs, at least daily unless your vet recommends otherwise, to keep your dog fit, active and stimulated.
  • If you become aware of changes in behaviour, you should seek veterinary advice, as your dog may be distressed, bored, ill or injured.
  • All dogs should be trained to behave well, ideally from a very young age. Only use positive reward-based training.

Providing companionship

  • Dogs are social animals so make sure your dog has opportunities to spend enough time with people and friendly dogs so that it is less likely to become lonely or bored.
  • Make sure that your dog is never left alone long enough for it to become distressed.
  • Encourage your dog to be friendly towards other dogs and allow it to interact with friendly dogs on a regular basis.
  • Puppies should be given regular opportunities to socialise with other dogs and people. You should always check health issues with your vet before allowing your puppy to mix with other dogs. Our puppy parties are an ideal introduction to socialisation.
  • If you keep more than one dog, you should keep them together for company if possible. They will need to get on with each other, but will also need space to get away from each other when they want to.
  • If social encounters distress or frighten your dog or if your dog is fearful of, or aggressive towards, other dogs avoid the situations that lead to this behaviour and seek advice from our staff.
  • Be consistent in the way you, your family and friends react to your dog and do not encourage aggressive or other anti-social behaviour.

Protecting from pain and illness

  • Take sensible precautions to keep your dog safe from injury.
  • Check your dog over regularly and watch out for signs of injury, pain, disease, illness or changes in behaviour. If you see any of these you should contact the surgery and follow our advice.
  • You should carefully check your dog's coat regularly and groom your dog, if necessary, to maintain a healthy coat.
  • Most dogs need a health check at least once a year. Young dogs and older animals need more frequent checks.
  • We recommend annual vaccination to protect against the serious infectious diseases.
  • Your dog will need regular parasite treatment to prevent worms, fleas and other infestations.
  • You should always consult us immediately if you are concerned that your dog has eaten or come into contact with anything that could be harmful.
  • Lost dogs that can be identified are much more likely to be returned home quickly and without injury. Dogs are required to wear a collar and identity tag when in a public place. We recommend that every dog has a microchip.
  • Before you allow your dog to breed come to us for advice.
  • Neutering, especially of bitches, can help prevent serious diseases. Find out more about this from any member of our staff.