Dog owner’s responsibilities
As a dog owner, you need to know about dog laws and your responsibilities to protect yourself and others around you.
All dogs must have a valid licence and wear identification with the name and address of their keeper. This can be on a tag or engraved on a collar plate. All dogs must also be fitted with a microchip. If you do not license your dog you may receive a £80 fixed penalty notice.
It is the responsibility of dog owners to clean up after their dog. If you do not pick up after your dog, you may receive a £80 fixed penalty notice.
You must always be in control of your dog and not let it stray. If your dog is allowed to stray, you may receive a £80 fixed penalty notice. This covers the Belfast City Council area, including all parks and open spaces.
Dogs in cars
It’s important to care for your dog when taking them out by car during the warmer months. In as little as 15 minutes a dog could suffer heatstroke and die due to hot conditions in a car.
If your dog shows any symptoms of heatstroke, move him or her to a shaded, cool area and call your vet for advice immediately. Heatstroke can be fatal and should always be treated as an emergency.
Tips to keep your dog cool
- Make sure your dog is always able to move to a cooler, ventilated environment if they’re feeling hot.
- Never leave your dog alone in a glass conservatory or a caravan. Even if it’s cloudy when you leave, the sun may come out later in the day and make it unbearably hot.
- If your dog is outside you should provide a cool spot in the shade so they can escape the sun.
- Make sure your dog always has a supply of drinking water. If you’re out on a hot day, carry water with you and give your dog small amounts regularly.
- Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening so your dog isn’t exercising a lot in hot weather.
- Dogs with light coloured fur on their ears can get sunburnt. Ask your vet for advice on safe sunscreen.
If you see a dog overheating in a car, call our Animal Welfare Officer on 028 9027 0431 (for out of hours, phone 07824 994 490) or the PSNI on 999.
If a dog suffers or dies because they were left in a hot car, their owner can face prosecution for neglect and cruelty.
The Dogs (Specified Maximum) (Belfast) Order 2012
When in public, you can only have four dogs under your control at any one time. If anyone is caught in control of more than four dogs at one time, they may receive a £80 fixed penalty notice.
This order was created under The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (NI) 2011 and covers the Belfast City Council area, including all parks and open spaces.
Control of Greyhounds etc. Act (Northern Ireland) 1950
There are specific requirements for greyhounds, whippet and lurcher type dogs.
- When exercised or led in a street or other public place, greyhounds must be kept under control and muzzled.
- No more than two greyhounds should be exercised or led by any one person in any street, road, highway or other public place.
Please note that greyhound within the meaning of the legislation includes any greyhound or whippet and any breed, strain, or cross thereof. A lurcher is a cross-breed of a greyhound or whippet and therefore is covered by this legislation. Failure to comply with the above requirements may result in a £80 fixed penalty notice.