dog sat next to owner

The need to keep your dog on-leash

Dogs sometimes bite, growl or snarl when provoked

The occasional dust-up involving dogs and humans probably dates back to the time when early hunter-gatherers first attempted to domesticate wild canids.

Despite the approximately 30,000 years of human-dog companionship, there has been a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that our canine companions don’t always follow the rules of human society.

Dogs sometimes bite, growl or snarl when provoked; run after the occasional prey animal without warning, despite their longtime role as companions to humans they are, after all, a few altered genes removed from wolves.

As such the occasional lapse in civilised behaviour should not be a surprise.

The law has long recognized that dogs can sometimes run afoul of the norms and conventions of human society.

For example in Ancient Rome owners were liable for the actions of their dog when tied or allowed to roam in a public area and the dog in the words of the law “did mischief.”

Similarly, a dog handler who did not manage a dog properly and the dog “did mischief” the handler would be held responsible.

This concept of canine liability remained in our laws through the ages making their way to Britain. For example in 9th Century Britain, a law declared by Alfred the Great decreed “If a dog tear or bite a man, for the first misdeed let six shillings be paid.”

This trend continued into modern times a number of laws regulating dogs and what the consequences should be if a dog should decide to behave anti-socially in public.

Currently in the UK, it’s against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, in a public or private place. A dog is considered out of control if it injures someone, makes someone worried that it might injure them, injures someone’s animal, or the owner of the animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal.

A recent case featured on TV court show “Judge Rinder” involved an owner who was injured when his dog was fighting another dog in a park.

The attacking dog injured the owner when he tried to intervene to protect his dog. In the end the injured man was awarded damages to compensate him for his injuries.

Georgia Briscoe, head of the legal team for Patient Claim Line – sponsor of the show – “Small claims can be solved on a TV Show but a dog bite involves personal injuries and it’s better to proceed under legal advice”.

Dogs in modern times still hold their status as our companions. However, the behavioral expectations on dogs are a bit stricter than in times past. Dogs and their two-legged companions often must navigate crowded public spaces and are expected to behave cordially in and amongst others.

In fact, dogs are often expected to be just as polite and amicable as us humans (at least, in theory) are expected to be.

With this expectation, we have a seen a whole set of informal etiquette for behavior at parks or when out for a walk in the community.

These norms include when it is appropriate to leave a dog on the leash or let them go free range.

As we know canine social behavior with unfamiliar humans and other members of their brethren, go from friendly to ugly in the blink of an eye.

Keep in mind, even the friendliest Labrador can wake up on the wrong side of the dog bed.

It’s important we keep in mind both the laws and the everyday rules of common courtesy when out and about with our dog friends.

With this thought in mind, do you keep your dog on a leash outside?

What do you think about owners that say their dog needs to exercise?