We recognise that dog attacks can have horrific consequences, and we take this issue very seriously.
In December 2021, Defra published research in collaboration with Middlesex University investigating measures to reduce dog attacks and promote responsible dog ownership across all breeds of dog.
The research considers the effectiveness of current dog control measures and makes several recommendations. These relate to consistency in enforcement practice and greater use of preventative enforcement models, improved knowledge and awareness of appropriate behaviour around dogs, strengthened accreditation of dog trainers, and improved data recording and collection.
In response to this research, Defra has established a Responsible Dog Ownership working group involving police, local authorities and animal welfare organisations. This is actively developing reforms in relation to each of the four main strands of the Middlesex report. Conclusions and policy reform recommendations are expected next year. These should address all aspects of tackling irresponsible dog ownership effectively, from prevention to robust, consistent enforcement, focussing on owners as well as on their dogs.
This summer Defra has also worked with stakeholders to launch a dog safety communications campaign to promote safe interactions between children and dogs. As part of this we have supported the Canine and Feline Sector Group to disseminate their Dog Safety Code, which incorporates key advice and resources to equip parents and children with the knowledge they need to enjoy spending time with dogs safely.