Do dogs need to wear a collar in public?

You’re probably aware that all dogs must be microchipped, but did you also know that they need to wear a collar with identifying information when in public? Find out why, and what information must be included on your dog’s tag.

There are many laws in the UK designed to protect the health and welfare of our pets. These include rules designed to ensure that dogs are wearing a collar. While many of our dogs wear their collar all the time, many pet owners are not necessarily aware of the legal requirements for dog tags.  

Do dogs have to wear collars?

Yes. Part of The Control of Dogs Order 1992 specifically relates to the fact that, when in a public space, pet dogs must wear a collar with their owner’s information. These details can be inscribed on the collar itself, or written on a plate or badge attached to your dog’s collar. Often, owners choose to use an ID tag that can be bought in pet stores or online.

There are some exemptions to the rule that dogs need to wear a collar with a dog tag. The exemptions apply to working or sporting dogs, those carrying out rescue work, and registered Guide Dogs.      

What do you need to put on a dog tag?

By law, requirements for dog tags in the UK state that your dog’s collar must include:

  • Your name
  • Your house number or name
  • Your postcode

Many owners also choose to add their phone number. This is a good idea, as it makes it much easier for you to be contacted if necessary. And what about including your dog’s name? This one is up for debate. Many owners like to add their dog’s name to their ID tag, but others are concerned this could make it easier for dog thieves to steal your dog.

Make sure you check your dog’s collar and tag regularly, for signs of wear and tear. Sometimes a tag can fall off, or a collar becomes frayed. Keeping a spare tag or collar at home is a good idea. Don’t forget to update your dog’s tag if you move house.

When fitting your dog’s collar, make sure you can comfortably fit two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck. For growing puppies, you’ll need to check the fit of their collar every few weeks, and move up to the next size as necessary.

Does my dog still need to wear a collar if they’re microchipped?

Yes. The Microchipping of Dogs Regulations came into force in 2016. These rules state that all dogs over eight weeks must be microchipped, with details of ownership being registered on one of the authorised databases. This information must be updated if your contact details change, or if a dog gets a new owner. If your dog doesn’t have a microchip, you could be fined up to £500.

Can I get fined if my dog isn’t wearing a collar?

Yes. If your dog isn’t wearing a collar, or their collar doesn’t include the relevant information, you can be subject to an unlimited fine, or even jail. In reality, however, most breaches of the law are unlikely to incur such harsh penalties. Remember, it’s not enough to have your dog’s name and your phone number on their collar – it must include your name and address, too.   

Many dog owners prefer to use a harness when walking their dog, rather than using a dog collar and lead.  Even if you’ve attached an ID tag to your dog’s harness, this doesn’t exempt your dog from needing to wear a collar with your identifying information on it as well.

Once you’re home, you can remove your dog’s collar if you prefer. Just make sure your home and garden are secure and your dog can’t gain access to any public spaces. Before you head outside again, always put your dog’s collar back on. 

Does your dog’s collar and ID tag include the information it should? Or is it time for an update? We’d love to know your thoughts about whether to include your dog’s name on their tag, so head over to our Facebook page and join the conversation.

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