Dogs in public spaces

Restrictions on dogs in public spaces

We believe that all dogs should have fair access to public spaces and have plenty of opportunity to exercise on and off lead. We also believe that the vast majority of dog owners are responsible, and that most dogs are well behaved.

Despite this, many local authorities are introducing strict and unfair restrictions on dog owners through the introduction of Public Space Protection Orders (England and Wales) and Dog Control Orders (Northern Ireland).

What are PSPOs and DCOs?

PSPOs and DCOs are powers which allow for a local authority to introduce bans and restrictions on dog owners. These tend to be introduced in an effort to help tackle irresponsible dog ownership in public, such as dog fouling or out of control and nuisance dogs.

These measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Exclude dogs from designated areas such as parks
  • Require dogs to be kept on leads
  • Limit the number of dogs that can be walked by one person

If prosecuted, the maximum fine for a breach under a PSPO or DCO is £1000.

Some will actually help benefit your community. In fact, we fully support orders which are well thought-out, well implemented and target those exhibiting irresponsible behaviours.

How do these restrictions affect me?

Many local authorities are introducing blanket orders which are restricting dogs from enjoying public spaces or requiring them to be kept on a lead. Such bans are ineffective and are often ignored by those causing the problem. It is then responsible owners and the wider community left with the burden that the restrictions bring.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Possible health and welfare implications for dogs not getting enough off-lead exercise
  • Dogs lacking social interactions with other dogs, leading to possible behavioural problems
  • People lacking social interactions with other people, possibly affecting social well-being
  • Responsible dog owners being given a bad name
  • Impact to local dog friendly businesses – dog walkers are one of the most common users of open spaces

What can I do to help?

We want to ensure that all dog owners are well represented when a local authority plans a consultation to introduce PSPO or DCO. Whilst it is considered good practice to advertise an up-coming PSPO/DCO consultation, many local authorities do not properly inform the public about them. This means that many PSPOs and DCOs are being passed without a fair representation of dog owners who simply didn’t know about the up-coming consultation!

This is why we have created a toolkit to help guide you through the consultation process and give you the tools you need to help positively influence the outcome. We have included a template response for you to send to your local authority, awareness raising posters & flyers for you to display in your community, and tips on how you can gain further support and engage fellow dog owners on the issue!

With your help, we can help create and keep happy, dog-friendly environments for us all to enjoy.

You can keep up to date with up-coming PSPO consultations here.

Aware of a PSPO or DCO in your community?

Please email us at [email protected] and let us know!




Get the latest updates

Sign up to our newsletter and get the latest on our work, campaigns, and other issues affecting dog welfare straight to your inbox.

Stay in touch, and let’s help change the tale for dogs together. 

Sign up now