Welfare of dogs: an introduction
This introduction to the welfare of dogs provides advice on owning a dog. Dogs have five main 'needs' in terms of their welfare.
Needs of dogs
You must take all reasonable steps to make sure that you meet the following needs that your dog has:
- a suitable environment
- a suitable diet
- to be able to show normal behaviour patterns
- to be able to get on with other animals
- to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease
Owning and caring for a dog can be a source of great enjoyment, but you should be aware that dog ownership is a major responsibility.
Typically, dogs live for about 13 years or longer so think carefully about all factors that will affect your ability to care for a dog and whether a dog is suitable for you.
Providing for all of a dog’s needs
You will need to consider the size of your property and the financial and time implications of having a dog as a pet. Caring for a dog can be expensive and you should consider whether, for instance, you would be able to afford the cost of routine and unexpected veterinary treatment, or the cost of pet health insurance.
There is no one 'perfect 'way to care for all dogs because every dog, and every situation, is different. It is up to you to find out what your dog’s precise needs are and how to meet them.
You are always responsible for your dog’s needs. If you are a parent or guardian of a child under the age of 16 years, you are responsible for any animal that child is in charge of. If you are unable to care for your dog at any time, you must make arrangements for another suitable person to look after it on your behalf.
It is important to remember that you're still responsible for making sure that your dog’s needs are met, even when you are away. The person with whom you leave your dog will also be legally responsible for your dog’s welfare in your absence.
If you own or are responsible for a dog, and fail to meet its welfare needs or cause it unnecessary suffering, you may be prosecuted.
Places to walk your dog
- Forests, Nature Reserves, Country Parks, Parks and green spaces in Northern Ireland
If your dog fouls in a public place, you should clean up the mess. Find out more: