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Beware of the dog sign laws

64 Comments 2nd June 2016

Change in BEWARE of the dog sign.  Ive looked into this and the law is completely wrong.

The law takes a peculiar stance when it comes to the use of ‘beware of the dog’ signs.

If such a sign is on display when the dog attacks a trespasser, then its owner is liable for prosecution, because it could be argued that by displaying the sign they knew the dog was dangerous. However, if the dog attacks an intruder when no sign is visible then the court would decree that the owner was unaware of the threat of the animal, and is therefore not liable for court action.

So for those considering a sign, according to the law if you have a harmless pet dog then by all means display a ‘beware of the dog’ sign as a deterrent, but if you have a dog that would be liable to attack an intruder then don’t, as you might get into trouble.

So basically its saying that if you have a small, medium, large, non vicious, vicious dog and DO NOT have a sign up and an intruder breaks in and gets biten then NOTHING will be done and the owner will NOT be prosecuted.

However, if you put up a BEWARE sign and an intruder gets attacked by the dog defending its property/master your liable for any damage caused to the intruder because by putting up a BEWARE sign its classed as a threat and foreknowledge of your dog/s aggressive or possible aggressive nature.

I have currrent signs up saying BEWARE and own 2 rottweilers who are both very placid and are now known to be a placid breed and NOT Dangerous and one is even a qualified PAT dog enabling him to go into hospitals, schools, homes etc but should an intruder break in and for some reason he decideds to protect that day we will be prosecuted purely because our sign is up and states BEWARE.

We also travelled to several pet shops today asking if they knew of the BEWARE sign law as they all sold BEWARE of the dog signs and NOT one was aware.  You only seem to learn this ridiculous law when its too late and surely BEWARE is a WARNING not a THREAT.

Why does this matter?

because many owners in britain own 1, 2, or several dogs and have signs stating BEWARE but unknowing to them their breaking this ridiculous law. As I mentioned BEWARE is a WARNING and NOT a THREAT!!!!!

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64 Responses to Beware of the dog sign laws

  1. Brendan says:

    I think the answer to this is quite simple, particularly as the law plays on words.

    “Beware” implies an instruction to avoid, so what’s wrong with “Be aware of the dog”?

  2. gail says:

    the ….”I live here” signs would be fine too x

  3. Jac says:

    I have signs that say “Caution, Dogs running free” does this come in the same category as “Beware of the Dog”?

    • val Kerwood says:

      I woild like to know this too as this is the sign I have

      • Sharon says:

        I actually recently raised this subject with police as i was having neighbours antisocisl behaivour. I told them if i heard anyone in my back garden (i live mid-terrace with no back entrance) i would automatically open my back door and dog would run out. They ADVISED me to display ‘beware of dog’ notices at both back and front door. They said i could potentally still get prosecuted but by doing that i was warning that a dog was on premises so basically enter at own risk.

    • Mandy says:

      Your sign would not come in the same category as it could be argued that it means shut the gate so the dogs can’t escape.

    • terry gray says:

      you are responsible for your dog dogs don’t let signs fool into believing that you are free from blame just because you put a sign up, if some one was attacked, consider the person could not read or could speak English then what?

  4. TC says:

    If you’ve looked into the law could you please let us know the statute or case law to support this? As for the statement that the court “would” decree the owner was unaware of a threat, each case would be decided on its own merits and the facts of the case.

  5. Olga Lockley says:

    How about – Beware of the owner?”

    • Melissa says:

      My dog has a t-shirt that says that!! I’ll use that instead of the sign, my dog can’t then be prosecuted because she’s unaware of any aggressive tendencies from her owner…Oh wait this world is so ridiculous they just might!!!

  6. sara says:

    Beware of the owner is good one

  7. Dick Dastrad says:

    I don’t find the argument at all convincing. At best, the sign is an adminicle of evidence and while so a
    smart lawyer might argue that it means that you think your dog is dangerous, all you are doing is warning the public of the presence of a dog on private property. If someone ignores the sign and gets bitten, then they may not have a leg to stand on. The bottom line is that all dog owners must act responsibly and keep their dogs under control. But you are unlikely to be successfully prosecuted unless your dog has a history of behaving dangerously. Having appropriate insurance is worth considering. I think the reality is you’re more at risk if your dog attacks sheep than a human but there have been prosecutions when dogs have attacked other dogs and cats

    • Sue says:

      The law changed last October. Now you can be prosecuted if your dog is barking on the lead and someone FEELS threatened by it. If your dog is barking BEHIND a locked door, you can be prosecuted as it is considered antisocial. You should teach your dogs not to bark (sic!)
      I have two silly lurchers, one is afraid of a lot of things (like myself when wearing certain clothes) and she barks and the other joins in of course. As they bark to greet other dogs. Now I should be punished for this.
      All this because they can’t (don’t want to?) stop dogfighting, backstreet breeding, now they bring on very stupid blanket laws against placid pets.

      • nforne says:

        Please… I need to know. What do you wear to frighten a lurcher? Is it regular clothes or do you occasionally adorn a hockey mask?!

  8. Les says:

    I have a German Shepherd. This breed unfortunately has an undeserved reputation – thanks to Police, Security guards, etc. I have a sign with a picture of him with the words ‘ I live here’. An intruder can then make his/her decision as to whether or not to climb over the wall. I don’t doubt that he/she would be badly bitten, but I’m confident that no prosecution would follow.

    • Roger says:

      Why do the police or security industry give GSD’s a bad reputation? Our dogs are trained to high standards and doing a job they are trained to do and respected for! A proper trained dog will accept people of no threat, it’s idiots who have dogs of any breed and don’t train them properly are the ones who ruin breed reputations.

      • Clair says:

        Sadly with reference to rescue dogs I have a husky cross with an Akita, a gsd cross collie and a pure Gsd. All have been badly treated by men. Im lucky I have my own private field which is a part of my property. I am a dog trainer (force free) and study behaviour. I also run a dog hotel where dogs are allowed to roam freely on the property. Recently, one of the members of staff had just got off the field with my dogs . When she went back on, a man was eond ering around on it. Its a 6 and half ft stock fence, on a 3 acre field. The police gave the advice to put up “guard dogs” ans beware of the dog signs. Not the right advice

        Luckily for my dogs and me they weren’t on the field because it wouldn’t have been pretty. Nothing to boast about as we would have been in very deep trouble.

        No signs saying dogs roaming, exercising, etc as you will be held liable. Check out be dog law savvy. Dont think ypure be ok.

    • Sue says:

      Don’t be that sure. Read the new regulations.

    • Angela Wilson says:

      I have 3 German Shepherds,my sign says they live here and if anyone enters my property,they might meet them .

  9. lyn tansell says:

    By front door, watch out German shepherd about. Back door, warning German shepherd on duty, are these ok?.

  10. lyn tansell says:

    Cannot help thinking if one knows about a dog surely it is the intruders fault for taking no notice?.

  11. Billy says:

    I put up a hand drawn poster on the inside of my front door glass.
    It showed a shotgun and the word
    “Tony Martin Home Protection operates here”. Tony Martin was a Norfolk Farmer who shot dead a burglar. GOOD ON HIM I SAY.
    I would have no hesitation in shooting anyone who should not be in my property

  12. Steve says:

    My sign says dog loose, please close the gates.

    I also have a door bell (wireless) at the side of the garage with a notice saying My dog lives here, please ring the bell and wait outside the gate. I did the second one for delivery people, especially the postman who after being attacked by dogs is very wary of all dogs now including my very friendly but boisterously welcoming dog. I have also put a mail box on the garage wall so the postie doesn’t have to enter the property. I believe in identifying and eliminating as many risks as possible before a situation occurs.

    My dog is friendly and socialised, but she gets excited in welcoming ‘visitors’ and there are no guarantees in life.

  13. Su edwards says:

    I’m totally against any sign to advertise I have a dog or dogs in the house. With the way dog crime is at the moment, when they mark your gate or path to tell the kidnappers which dog you have in your house to steal… We do our upmost to protect our dogs from these people, now they are asking us to opening advertise our dogs on our own doors to tell everyone what we have. If you have a dog that attacks they you need to take your own measures to keep others safe. Plus if anyone came in my house I would expect my dog to let me know as that’s what they are there for apart from living in a loving home, if people didn’t break in and rob the innocent they wouldn’t get attacked

  14. Eric Sullivan says:

    I don’t need a sign. The dogs soon make their presence known. My dogs are perfectly safe with normal visitors, but anyone stupid enough to break in would soon regret it. Dogs have been kept by man for tens of thousands of years to scare away intruders and predators, how are we supposed to train them to be fluffy bunnies when we are out of the house? I think this article makes it all a bit black and white, when in reality I would hope that each case would be judged on the facts and circumstances.

  15. Bridget Savage says:

    I would like a sign that said ‘If you come to steal my property YOU take the consequences of possible injury’

  16. Roger says:

    Aa someone who has worked in the security dog industry since 2006, I have never used beware on my signage, always be aware, even the signage I use at home has always carried the words be aware

  17. Margaret Ffreer says:

    I have been warning people about displaying the ‘Beware of the dog’ sign for years & what the law says about your liability if such a sign is displayed.
    Showing a picture of a breed & saying ‘I live here is better’ then you are not making any statement on the character of the dog.

  18. Bob Bobson says:

    This sounds like a load of rubbish. What statute and case law supports this rant? If you aren’t quoting any then I assume you don’t know what you are talking about, and probably shouldn’t be posting clickbait legal advice on the interwebs.

  19. Bj Flude says:

    this isn’t new, 40 yrs ago my moms dog bit a man(he was tormenting dog) because she had the sign beware of dog, she got into trouble by police as the sign was an admittance that dog was vicious, so I have never displayed one, you can have this dog lives here or please close the gate etc. but not beware of

  20. Lynne briers says:

    I have had a rescue/stray for 10 years and have never displayed beware of dog or other signage. All my friends and family know I have a dog. If someone comes to my house ie meter man or on official business, I tell them I have a dog and would they prefer not to have contact with it. She is no threat to anybody but if someone tried to break in the consequences might be different. She is friendly and likes attention but at the end of the day a dog will defend its master or mistress and whatever breed or size it is dogs are loyal so god help intruders!!

  21. Richard says:

    What a load of crap.

    The author is even stating that a person is breaking the law by displaying such a sign…


  22. brenda lowe says:

    I had a sign that had a picture of a german shepherd which said
    I can get to the gate in 3 seconds can you

  23. johno says:

    I have dogs running loose. Do not enter. Do not open gate on both my side gate and rear gate.. If someone’s silly enough to enter there ground, after reading that, then so be it.

  24. Andy says:

    I’ve got a beware of the wife sign so If she bites someone’s leg, am I libel or would they just enjoy it ??

  25. Jeani says:

    My dad is retired police officer. I always since owning my dog at 16 have had 1 of these on my property. My dad has always told me i shouldnt have it because of this stupid law. My sign now says beware of the dog ( and dont trust the cat). I am 30 now so this law has been in place for many many years i just think no one knew about it.

  26. Sue says:
    Read this and watch the video below.
    The new law is made to avoid (or at least prosecute when happens) the countless cases of infants, toddlers, children, adults and elderly mauled, disfigured or killed by dogs. JRTs or labradors too, not just the banned breeds. As the victim’s parents and the dog’s owners were in most cases the same people, prosecution never happened before. Now it will, which I agree with.
    The problem is that this new law opens a lot of potential issues of burglars harmed by protective dogs or an over-friendly dog’s jumping up considered threatening and dangerous. Some people think barking is always a threat, they could sue you because they FEEL to be in danger.
    Good news for lawyers I guess, at least someone profits from it.

  27. patricia west says:

    I have a sign with a row of dogs sat very politely side by side, and it says ‘i can make the gate in 3 secs, can u?’ which i se as 1) shows there is dogs on the premises 2) they are fast………if any intruder comes onto my property they know and have been warned.

  28. abi says:

    i was getting my dog out of my car in the driveway the neighbour from next door walked passed my car and my dog jumped out and bit there ankle quite badly. my neighbour shouted over to me you will get a simple caution for that does anyone know if u can get a caution if a dog does temp to bit someone?

  29. Fitz says:

    Utter drivel.

  30. dylan roberts says:

    the same applies to beware of the bull sign. but we have put up.
    bull in field. only cross this field if you can do it in 9 seconds as the bull can do it in 10.

  31. dylan roberts says:

    the same applies to bull sign. but we have put up. bull in field. only cross this field if you can do it in 9 seconds as the bull can do it in 10

  32. Michelle says:

    There is a lot more to the new laws that people should be aware of. The government were too lazy to actually go through this that most parts are ridiculous and protect intruders and even barking at someone can have people complain your dog is dangerous..

    • Robert McAdam says:

      I have just fallen foul of this law. My German Shepherd bitch nipped a woman delivering leaflets, she saw this dog plus my other two in my drive, ignored my sign which said ‘Watch out’ with a picture of a dog, opened my five bar (farm type) gate, came on to my property, excited my dogs and got a nip on her leg. The police were called and I now have to have one of my dogs destroyed! My solicitor has advised that a sign should be placed on my gate to say – WARNING ANY IMPLIED RIGHT OF ACCESS TO THIS PROPERTY IS WITHDRAWN – IF YOU PROCEED YOU WILL BE A TRESPASSER
      This is the only way around the dangerous dogs act on your own property.

      • penn says:

        Like you, I am shocked to my boots to read your story and its predicted outcome.
        This morning, in the excitement of struggling to open front door, to delivery chap, signing for parcel, my (large, affable.)dog barged his way out of the door and started cocking his leg, as one does. Having received parcel, said delivery man turned away, commenting that ‘here comes the post’. Enter fast walking regular postman, (who has in the past left items by my back door and garden shed) hands me letters, steps into road; dog, peeing on outside of garden wall, turns and without warning, grips/bites postman on arm and turns away, returning into house! No-one screamed or shouted as the whole incident was so unexpected…postman let me look at arm, which had a shallow bruise. He let me call out the dog, and talked to me as the dog stood with us, and the postman stroked his head! So, what was all that about?
        I knew that the postman had to report incident, and later a P.O. rep turned up to take photos and to discuss what had happened. No aggro was implied, by postman, me or P.O.rep., and the police may or may not be round to see me.
        I can only think that a) the dog did not see the postman until he turned and the man was there. b) when the delivery chap knocked, I was shouting from the bathroom for him to wait and c)during the morning there were intermittent ‘bangs’ like fireworks going on/off.
        I now have the triple worry of being worried, whilst not letting my dog recognise that I am worried, and thus making him worried and thus defensive!

        Surely the sign ‘BE AWARE OF DOGS’ should not be ambiguous in law……

      • Tina says:

        I have been advised by TVP Dog legislation officer to put signs on all entrances to my property stating
        Dogs On Site
        DO NOT ENTER
        No unauthorised person to enter this private property without Direct authorisation or invitation from the Owner .
        Dogs on site
        Do not enter
        This protects you

  33. Janis Hilton says:

    I am in the US, not the UK, but I stopped by to read this article because I heard of a similar occurence here many years ago. For years I had “Beware of Dog” signs, and after hearing of this, what I do now is, I have lots of indications on my property that I have Dobermans. I have a Doberman address sign, I have Dobermans in a heart on my mailbox, I back my car into my driveway and since we don’t have to have front license plates on our cars, I have a plate that says, “I <3 my Doberman," etc. I could list other things, but you get the idea. With great decals around you can add indications of having dogs in other ways. Dogs are a very big crime deterrent. My two 100+ lb. each Dober-boys, are sweet as can be, however, I have no idea how they will react if they sense fear from me, I actually think they would attack. So, I am warning no one, but everyone who looks at my property can see in many ways that I have Dobermans, and not one, multiple — there are indications that there's more than one, but not how many. 🙂 And, for the record, I too find this so strange, however, I have found other ways, just in case, to let it be known there are dogs on my property. Big Doberdogs. lol

  34. HEIDI Boyce says:

    I was told by police to have a sign made which said. Doberman at this property. Do not entree without prior appointment to allow my dog to be secured. This covered my dog ftom all except children or adults who could not read.

  35. Martin Taylor says:

    “They’re” are NOT breaking the law as you stated in the last paragraph….!!!

  36. shirley says:

    Its like the tabbard for riding on roads which says caution young horse…apparantly your admitting your horse is unsafe on roads !!!
    Does my head in all this bullsht!! You should be allowed to protect your own without a lawsuit

  37. Richard Waugh says:

    This just sounds like urban legend BS. What points in law does this relate to? Can you quote previous case law and outcomes?

  38. sharon says:

    Aswell if ur home & dog attacks intruder U can be prosocuted but if ur out when dog attacks intruder thats ok what the hell it ok 4 intruder 2 break in but not 4 loyal pet 2 protect it owner which is what 99% of dogs will try do without being told or taught

  39. Melissa says:

    Wow we really do live in the time of tbe bugler/thief! It’s ok to not have to go out and earn money to afford the things you want because you can steal it, and if that fails, you can sue for them protecting their homes and possessions! Good message to put out there. The longest law ‘thou shalt not steal’ has been there since the beginning of time but no longer because we live in a time that favours the thief…I weep for humanity!!

  40. sonny says:

    Rottweilers placid. you should see my 2 no one could come in my house my boy is 60kg and bitch 45kg. They are unapproachable by any stranger at home and would fight to the death to defend our home, but so loving and soppy when friends. Its what bloodline you get english kc registered crap is not guard stock. Get rottweilers from europe were they breed the proper working bloodlines( the right breeder). the english bred rottweiler is substandard u’d be better off with a jack russell’s or deautchonds, at least they’d defend their home. When your dogs the business u dont need a sign cause they’ll do the business. And give u real home security. german shepherd, doberman also good when u get the correct europeon stock!!!! Dont even bother with english kc registered crap. They’ve bred out any good that the breeds have!!!!

  41. Mark says:

    My sign says: “Is there life after death? Jump over the fence and find out”

  42. Mark says:

    Also with the outline of a German Shepherd.

  43. Tracy Weston says:

    This question has been asked before but I cannot see an answer to it. You refer to the law, can you please post the actual law regarding dog signs? It seems to me that this post is more of a legal opinion than actual law?

  44. Raj says:

    I think with this crazy UK law it is better & safer if the
    picture of the dog is displayed.That way who ever wants to take the risk it is their decision.Also there is no wording.

  45. michael mc honey says:

    if you had a sign saying you have a gun and anyone entering may get shot then that is clearly pre-meditated intent to hurt or worse.
    Not arguing the case for or against that position but clearly the signs says you may shoot them.
    if you have a sign that said i’ve trained my dog to bite and he will, then that’s clearly a threat that will manifest itself in an attack.
    I am not arguing for or against that position either.
    If your sign says beware of the dog then you clearly believe their is cause for an uninvited visitor to be concerned of the consequences meaning you know your dog is capable of attack.
    Hence the sign will expose you to prosecution if your dog bites anyone.

    • Karl says:

      We are permitted self defence but a dog isn’t, it is sad how a dog is discriminated for protecting it’s own home ,if there are warnings to speak for the dog after all they don’t speak human

  46. Marc says:

    It makes sense that the law will have a view that if some one gets bitten by a dog when an owner is aware the dog may do this and has admitted so by placing warning signs, can hold the owner responsible for not putting measures in place to prevent this from happening. Controls can take many forms, training, restraints to the dog from roaming free in the yard or house to access control to visitors.

    You can make your own mind up if you want to display signs of this nature or not. Ultimately you weigh up the risk of the benefit of a deterrent warning sign over the risk of being prosecuted.

  47. Werner Koch says:

    No Human has the right to break into others Property simple like that we do have a right to protect our self because the law is not able to do that.

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