Welfare of dogs: code of practice

Best practice guidance to help those responsible for dogs meet the duty of care under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006

Section 4: any need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals

4.1. This section offers guidance on providing your dog with suitable company.

Relations with other dogs

Your dog should be able to interact safely with dogs and other pets

4.2. Dogs learn 'good manners' by interacting with other dogs. All dogs learn social skills from other dogs which is why it is important for your puppy to socialise with good-tempered adult dogs, within a secure and safe environment.

Relations with other animals and people

Be aware of how your dog reacts to people and other animals

4.3. Children, and adults who are not familiar with dogs, need to be aware that a dog should not be disturbed when resting, sleeping or eating, nor should it be forced to play or be carried around. Such interaction can encourage aggressive behaviour. There are various programmes available to teach children how to interact and play correctly with dogs (See Appendix 2).

4.4. You should also be aware of how your dog responds to unfamiliar dogs, cats and other animals and keep it under suitable control if it does not mix well with other pets. Owners can be held legally responsible for any damage caused by their dog.

When you are away from home

You must arrange for your dog to be cared for if you are away from home

4.5. You have a responsibility to make sure that your dog is cared for properly if you are unable to take it with you. This may be done by a dog sitter who lives in your home while you are away, somebody licensed to board dogs or by taking your dog to stay with a friend or relative who knows how to look after it.

4.6. When someone else is looking after your dog they are responsible for its welfare and you should ensure that they understand its needs and any special requirements that it may have.

4.7. A dog should not be routinely left on its own for more than a few hours during the day as they are likely to become bored, leading to barking or destructive behaviour. Many animal welfare organisations recommend a maximum of four hours. A possible solution if you are regularly away from home is to employ a responsible dog walker and you should remember that it is an offence to allow your dog to roam. However, the length of time which dogs can be left will depend on the individual dog. Therefore, it is important for you to get to know your dog and when it shows signs of stress.

Number of animals

4.8. Owners should think carefully about the size of their property and the financial and time implications of having more than one dog. It is also important to take into account your dog's likely acceptance of other dogs within its home territory. Your vet or pet care specialist will be able to offer further advice on this. Keeping another dog is not an alternative to providing regular exercise outside the living area. All dogs should be exercised regularly.

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