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Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010

Silhouette of DogsOn 22 April 2010, the Scottish Parliament passed the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Bill. Royal Assent was received on 26 May 2010. The Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 came into force on 26 February 2011. A full news release was issued.

The focus of the Act concentrates on the "deed not the breed" approach in tackling irresponsible dog ownership. Owning a dog brings many responsibilities for the dog owner and the 2010 Act is designed to highlight the responsibilities of dog owners by identifying out of control dogs at an early juncture and provide measures to change the behaviour of these dogs and their owners before the dogs become dangerous.

The provisions in the 2010 Act will widen the scope for local authorities and the courts to take action against persons in charge of a dog where the dog's behaviour is deemed to be "out of control". This will be achieved through the creation of a Dog Control Notice (DCN) regime that will permit (local authority appointed) authorised officers to issue DCNs to irresponsible owners of any dog that have been found to be out of control.

The DCN can impose a number of conditions on the dog owner including:

  • Muzzling the dog whenever it is in a place to which the public have access;
  • Keeping the dog on a lead whenever it is in a place to which the public have access;
  • If the dog is male, neutering it; and
  • The owner and their dog attending and completing a training course in the control of dogs.

The 2010 Act also amends the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 so that a dog owner can be held criminally responsible where a dog is found to be dangerously out of control in any place rather than only a public place or private place where a dog is not permitted to be. The 2010 Act contains measures which will address the problems of irresponsible dog ownership and this is fundamental in helping to reduce the number of attacks by dogs of all breeds. The provisions contained in the 2010 Act will give additional powers to local authorities for action to be taken against out of control of dogs so as to improve dog behaviour and owner behaviour leading to reductions in the number of future dog attacks that blight our communities

In this section


On 17 February 2011 the Scottish Government issued guidance to local authorities and authorised officers. The guidance is designed to enhance understanding of the Act and assist local authorities and authorised officers as they plan for implementation of the Act. The guidance is not a definitive interpretation of the Act as ultimately, this is a matter for the courts. The guidance aims to complement the Act and should be read alongside the Act itself.

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