Relevant Legislation Dog Handling

A few years ago, I was talking to a dog handler who told me that he had 3 dogs on the go. Obviously curious I asked him how me managed 3 dogs at a time?

Simple, he rented one out to a client who lets it run around his property and he checked in once a day to make sure it has food and water. He alternated the other 2 so he can go 24/7 for call outs and pre-booked patrols. Well, okay to the later, not so much to the former…

Eh? Yes, I heard that right! He left one of his dogs unattended, running free in a client’s property.

But you aren’t allowed to leave a guard dog unattended I objected! Says who, the question asked by a dog handler who wasn’t aware of the Guard Dogs Act 1975:

In this case the relevant piece of the act reads:

The Guard Dogs Act 1975 prohibits the use of a guard dog on any premises unless there is a ‘handler’ capable of controlling the dog present on the premises and the dog is under the control of the handler at all times. The only exception is where the dog is secured so that it cannot go freely about the premises; or where another handler has control over the dog.

That’s something that I’d expect every dog handler to be aware of!

When I explained this, very easy for someone to check, I was told that I was talking nonsense, his dog, he could do whatever he liked with it!

OK, not correct but next question, what happens if your unattended dog bites an intruder?

Again, a not correct answer, I paraphrase, it was a while ago, but it was along the lines of:

Not my problem mate, shouldn’t have broken in, should they?

Scary, and, to make matters worse this gentleman was also putting their client in a difficult position. A client cannot make a contractor responsible for health & safety on their premises. If there had been an intruder and they got bitten, the client would have been in as much trouble as their contractor.

I knew the client involved so spoke with them and they quickly moved to resolve the issue once they became aware of it.

So, we can infer from the above that there is a bit more to becoming a dog handler than buying a dog and showing up in a van wearing a high vis!

I’ve spoken to a number of dog handlers who have told me of their concerns about the quality and standards set by other dog handlers that they have encountered. There appears to be an SIA loophole re licensing as there isn’t a section for dog handlers. So potentially someone can indeed buy a dog and show up in a van wearing a high vis and introduce themselves as a dog handler. Hardly a level playing field.

Apart from the example I gave above I haven’t met any other dog handlers with such a poor grasp of how they should be working – even if not strictly required best practice in the industry is for dog handlers to get an SG or DS license before starting work.

As well as the Guard Dogs Act 1975 dog handlers also need to abide by the Animals Act 1971:

There’s no point reinventing the wheel, a very good summary of both pieces of legislation can be read here:

The law on keeping guard dogs – (from In Brief, Helping with Life’s Legal Issues):

I’m no expert in any of this so strongly suggest that you read up on both acts, do an accredited training course and take advise from a knowledgeable professional if in any doubt…

As well as legislation there is also “BS 8517-2:2016: Security dogs. Code of practice for the use of detection dogs”. It’s an expensive manual so I haven’t read it but its bound to be comprehensive and a good guide for professionals.