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Previous Next Up Topic Dog Boards / General / Legal Question - Beware of the Dog signs?
By Tanya1989 (***) [gb] Date 29.12.09 00:39 GMT
how would you stand, legally, if you had "beware of the dog signs" up, but someone broke onto your property and they got bit? its not happened but something on another thread got me thinking?
could it be a case of being PTS? is it classed as defence? Use of a dangerous weapon? anyone heard of a similar experience they wouldnt mind sharing?

thanks guys xx
Tanya <3 Leonbergers
By Chelcd (*) [gb] Date 29.12.09 01:12 GMT
Well I was having issues with a neigbour being aggresive, the police came and actally told me that I should let my dog go OUT there and IF she bit him that was his fault as he was on our land. I was highly suprisex by this bit she said that as long as she doesn't keep attacking and SERIOUSLY injure the neighbour then there isn't a problem. But off course if u ask the dog to attack in an aggresive mannner u could get done for dangerous weapon
By JeanSW (****) [gb] Date 29.12.09 05:01 GMT

> But off course if u ask the dog to attack in an aggresive mannner u could get done for dangerous weapon


How do you ask a dog to attack in a non aggressive manner???  :-)
The hurrier I go - the behinder I get!
By Staff (**) [gb] Date 29.12.09 09:28 GMT
I have spoken with the police before in respect of signs about dogs on gates etc.  If you have words such as 'beware' 'warning' then in the eyes of the law you are announcing you have 'guard' or 'dangerous' dogs.

The police are however happier if you have a sign saying 'dogs running free' or something similar.  This warns people that dogs are about but not that they are guarding the property.
By BarkingMad16 (**) [gb] Date 29.12.09 09:29 GMT
Unsure how legally valid this is but at Crufts a few years ago a few stands were selling 'Be Aware of the whatever breed' rather than 'Beware of the whateverbreed'.  I questioned it and was told that if you use the word beware you are admitting you have a dog that is/could be dangerous.  Its all in the wording I think.  However, I would like to believe that any Police officer would turn a blind eye if a robber got bitten when breaking into someones house - you would like to think so wouldnt you?
My best friends, Oscar, Asha and Indie
By BarkingMad16 (**) [gb] Date 29.12.09 09:30 GMT
Staff! looks like our similar replies were posted within a minute of each other!
My best friends, Oscar, Asha and Indie
By bear (**) [gb] Date 29.12.09 10:01 GMT
i read years ago that having a sign saying ' beware of dogs' was against the law as it was saying you had dangerous dogs but i don't know if thats true or not. anyway i decided to put a sign up saying ' dogs running free' and that was supposed to be ok.
can't remember where i read this though, so it could well be a lot of rubbish.
By Goldmali (****) [gb] Date 29.12.09 10:14 GMT
There was an article in one of the dog papers a few years ago (or possibly one of the annuals) showing signs that were acceptable ("Dogs running free", "I live here") or not ("Beware of the dog", "Breed x on duty", "I can make it to the gate in 3 seconds, can you?").
Marianne. Dogs are not our whole lives, there are cats too!
By howarth997 (*) [gb] Date 29.12.09 11:18 GMT
I live in the sticks with no neighbours for miles, so I have signs up on my property stating 'Guard Dogs DO NOT ENTER', I don't know how i'd stand if an intruder got seriously hurt by my dogs? But, i've clearly stated DO NOT ENTER, so i'm assuming i'd be in the clear?
The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.
By howarth997 (*) [gb] Date 29.12.09 11:24 GMT Edited 29.12.09 11:27 GMT
I found this on google:

Law and 'Beware of the Dog' Signs
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.
The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.
By magica (**) [gb] Date 29.12.09 12:09 GMT
I have a sign on my back gate saying-" Watch out bull terrier about" not sure how I would stand on that if someone came in?  but at least its telling some potential burglar that there is a dog on the premises.
Only truly at ease with four legged friends.
By mastifflover (***) [gb] Date 29.12.09 12:18 GMT

> 'Guard Dogs DO NOT ENTER', I don't know how i'd stand if an intruder got seriously hurt by my dogs? But, i've clearly stated DO NOT ENTER, so i'm assuming i'd be in the clear?


A 'guard dog' legaly requires a handler present, if no handler present it should be securely restrained, and signs stating 'guard dog'need to be at all entries to the property, so I would think that even stating 'DO NOT ENTER' would not rid you of any legal reprecussions, especially if you were not with the dog if it attacked an intruder.

I find this thread very interesting, I have been puzzling over this very topic since getting Buster. I too have come accross many articles that state displaying a sign that implies your dogs are a potential threat (ie, 'warning' type signs) is actually telling everybody the dog is dangerous, but that 'aware' signs are fine. I have even come accross some cases where an owner has got into trouble after thier dog has bitten an intruder and they have a 'beware of the dog sign' (UK cases, can't recall where I found them, sorry).

So, after a lot of thinking I haven't bothered putting up any sign, which is quite frustrating as I would rather let any (stupid, LOL) potential intruder know there is a huge dog in the house before they broke in (Buster doesn't bark at things, unless it's a play bark or a 'feed me' bark!). It's a really odd legal stance isn't it, as it's perfectly acceptable for signs to be displayed warning of death by electricity for example, without it being illegal to have that electricity there! One would have thought that if you warn others there is a dog (as opposed to making people 'aware' there is a dog) it would stop any legal come-back.
start weight 145lbs . goal weight 140lbs (reached). New goal weight 133lb. current weight 139lb.
By Tarn (*) [gb] Date 29.12.09 14:36 GMT
I think something like 'Please close the gate - dogs running free/loose' is a good alternative, makes people realise there are dogs there, but the wording is for the protection of the dogs, rather than a threat to an intruder ;-)
By Otterhound (**) [ie] Date 29.12.09 16:09 GMT
I had a "Beware of dogs" sign and was advised by Insurance that this could be construed as me knowing my dogs are dangerous. I changed it to "Dogs on premises".
By howarth997 (*) [gb] Date 29.12.09 20:08 GMT
A 'guard dog' legaly requires a handler present, if no handler present it should be securely restrained, and signs stating 'guard dog'need to be at all entries to the property, so I would think that even stating 'DO NOT ENTER' would not rid you of any legal reprecussions, especially if you were not with the dog if it attacked an intruder.

I'll take the risk anyway. I could always remove the signs if an incident did occur. Our home is fully secure & gated, with signs clearly displayed. We live in the country, with no neighbours for a mile or so, so I wouldn't want to take the risk with having no signs up at all! 

I think it's ridiculous that you could be liable if your dog injured an intruder.
The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.
By Honeymoonbeam (**) [es] Date 30.12.09 19:24 GMT
Tarn, that is exactly what my cousin has on her gate of her detached property.  Her assortment of dogs all run free but she told me years ago that saying Beware of the Dogs implies they could be aggressive.
By MsTemeraire (***) [gb] Date 30.12.09 19:43 GMT
My elderly mother's dog died last year aged 14. She still kept the Beware Of The Dog sign on her front door, believing it to be a deterrent (which of course it is to casual callers, with or without a resident dog). Her dog, though, would not have harmed an intruder, though it was never put to the test.

However I visit often, bringing my own dog, and stay as long as a week on occasions. Now... he would defend the property and would bite a burglar, so for his safety we changed her small door sign to one just warning there is a dog on the premises. [It bears a picture of a dog similar to mine and says Keep Out]. Having once been hauled into the police station and questioned under the DDA, I value my dog's life and safety too much to "admit" by way of a Beware sign that he will be defensive and protect us.

The law as it stands on that is a bit of an ass, though. I had troublesome neighbours for a while whose teenage sons regularly trespassed through everyone's back gardens (sometimes nicking or breaking things on their way). The police were of the opinion that they would deserve what they got if my dog bit them en passant. Obviously I couldn't have a sign on my back fence... but if I'd had one on my front fence and they'd jumped into my front garden and got bitten, then I could have been liable. Doesn't make sense, does it!
Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human ever has to choose a relative.
By bilbobaggins (***) [gb] Date 30.12.09 20:24 GMT

> i read years ago that having a sign saying ' beware of dogs' was against the law as it was saying you had dangerous dogs but i don't know if thats true or not. anyway i decided to put a sign up saying ' dogs running free' and that was supposed to be ok.
> can't remember where i read this though, so it could well be a lot of rubbish.


I was told this at both my puppy training classes. (different areas, a couple of years apart).
I have been looked at like a complete numbskull when repeating it to others though..
Home has hairs on the sofa
By MsTemeraire (***) [gb] Date 30.12.09 20:27 GMT

> I have been looked at like a complete numbskull when repeating it to others though..


It's spot-on advice and your puppy class should be commended for educating new owners to that level. Nothing in KCGC about that!
Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human ever has to choose a relative.
By WolfieStruppi (***) [gb] Date 31.12.09 20:58 GMT
The sign on our gate says "German Shepherds on Duty" with a picture of a GSD. The postman didnt believe it until 3 of them whizzed past the gate in the hunt for their ball, totally ignored him but made him jump. I also have a sign in a front facing window which says "caution, do not enter, large dogs may be running free".
By ShootingtheMoon Date 15.08.12 19:01 GMT
If a dog bites someone who trespasses on your property without your permission, then the person is breaking the law and thus your dog will not be prosecuted. A dog is not classed as a dangerous weapon. Also the fact if you put up a 'Beware of the Dog' sign weighs in your favor as potential intruders have been warned, plus people visiting not intending to trespass are warned and this minimizes the risk of your dog biting an innocent bystander. It is difficult sometimes to decide between the line of defending and attacking. However, if you own a dog listed as dangerous or banned such as a pit bull then you could run into trouble. From what I know, it takes a very stupid person to enter a property that has dogs on alert. My father is a retired police officer who used to work on the dog department and he retired with his six year of Belgian Malinois who was injured in action. As Billy my dog is a trained canine, when we had a break in a few months ago he immediately apprehended the intruder as his training required - attacking their arm and bringing down to the ground without badly injuring. However, dogs who have not undergone protection or attack training are, I'm sorry to say, very unlikely to actually do anything beyond bark and get excited. That being said, common reports of a dog defending its property but being untrained in attack went for the throat and killed the intruder. That is where the trouble begins as that dog can be listed as dangerous. So if an intruder enters and your dog bites but does not kill, the law is in your favor.
By Stooge (***) [gb] Date 15.08.12 19:21 GMT
Are you in the US?  Your spelling suggests so.  This board mainly consists of posters in the UK so your comments may not be applicable.
In the UK it is probably true to say we set a high value on human life, even burglers :-)
By Hethspaw (**) [gb] Date 15.08.12 19:48 GMT
how would you stand, legally, if you had "beware of the dog signs" up,

As at least one other poster said your implying you have a dangerous dog. Cant understand why that cop told one poster it was ok if the bit 'only a 'little', its not, its illegal.
By Hethspaw (**) [gb] Date 15.08.12 19:54 GMT
If a dog bites someone who trespasses on your property without your permission, then the person is breaking the law and thus your dog will not be prosecuted.

Trespass is a civil law offence not criminal & you have to sue in civil court.

Inflicting injury because someone is trespassing is a criminal offence. Causing injury to be caused by having an unsupervised dog is inflicting injury in law, its your dog & your property, the dog could end up under a DDA section of that act or a 19th century ect.
By corgilover (*) [gb] Date 15.08.12 19:58 GMT
many years ago when i was a child we had half an acre back garden totally inclosed with 6 foot high fencing and by a friends recommendation he was a police dog handler our signs on the fencing said caution dogs running free and we live here with gsd decals still had someone climb the fence and try to break in big mistake with 6 adult gsd who where all b level obdience and at least companion dog level working trials, but when the burgular was bit the police said he did not have a leg to stand on, the garden was totally enclosed and the gate had a latch and two bolts with padlocks on, they could not get out he had to get to them them, yes do not use beware of the dog, or even caution we live here, we now have dogs running free on the gate
By Goldmali (****) [se] Date 15.08.12 20:37 GMT
Search for the post I made after attending the dog law seminar with Trevor Cooper end of May as I asked this specific question.
Marianne. Dogs are not our whole lives, there are cats too!
By Nova (****) [gb] Date 15.08.12 21:11 GMT
Any idea of the title Goldmali and was it under a different username?
Jackie H
By Goldmali (****) [se] Date 16.08.12 07:31 GMT
I found it and it does verify we should NOT have such signs:
http://www.champdogsforum.co.uk/cgi-bin/board/topic_show.pl?pid=1317569#pid1317569
When I asked the question he said it is one he gets asked a LOT.
Marianne. Dogs are not our whole lives, there are cats too!
By Nova (****) [gb] Date 16.08.12 08:49 GMT
Thank you, then my sign "dogs running loose please ring and wait" is fine what would not be is to suggest that I think the dogs to be dangerous. It used to also say "this is for your protection and that of the dogs", guess that would be fine as well.
Jackie H
By Graciemay (*) [gb] Date 16.08.12 11:04 GMT
I'm a bit confused about what and if I should have a sign. I have a goldie and I thought if you had a sign up saying beware of the dog and someone either put hand over the gate or broke in you were ok if the dog bit them cos you had warned them about the dog.  What do I need to put up she's only a puppy but Im interested to see how I stand
By theemx (***) Date 16.08.12 11:46 GMT
Read the link Goldmali posted - yes a sign is a good idea but NOT a sign saying 'beware the dog' - the word 'beware' suggests that you KNOW the dog may cause injury/harm/behave aggressively and therefore you are liable if the dog does something (generally speaking).

Have a sign saying 'dogs live here' or 'dogs running loose' that makes people aware there are dogs and possibly unsupervised dogs at that, is fine, that does not suggest you have any prior knowledge that they may behave dangerously.
By MsTemeraire (***) Date 16.08.12 22:01 GMT Edited 16.08.12 22:12 GMT

> yes a sign is a good idea but NOT a sign saying 'beware the dog' - the word 'beware' suggests that you KNOW the dog may cause injury/harm/behave aggressively and therefore you are liable if the dog does something (generally speaking).


In an interesting offshoot of this topic - I found THIS in my postbox on monday morning with the mail. eek

I had no idea what to make of it, at all. In fact, I found it worrying & intimidating.
It wasn't til the next day I saw a neighbour who also has dogs and apparently she also had one - similarly disturbed and worried by it. Several other dog owners along the street also got one (but not a few others).

I posted it to a few dog forums and asked around and it seems these notices are issued to postal delivery staff to warn them of premises where there **MAY** be aggressive dogs. They are NOT meant to be delivered to the properties!! I can only assume we had some new Posties on the rounds who posted them in error.

However, I was disconcerted by the BEWARE on the flyer... before I knew it was delivered in error, I did wonder if the PO was trying to get me to 'up' my signage (despite current law as advised in this thread)!

I'm still perturbed though that they are sending BEWARE signals to PO staff in this manner, would the PO prefer houses to be labelled with BEWARE signs? Should the PO be informed as to current legal status with BEWARE signs?

Just to add: One of my neighbours who received this flyer, has some learning disabilities (also has two very lovely and well behaved BCs, a good dog owner!) and was very worried by it - she thought she was meant to display it in her window or on her gate, or go out and buy a sign saying BEWARE.
Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human ever has to choose a relative.
By Hilly (*) [gb] Date 20.08.12 07:59 GMT
http://www.defra.gov.uk/consult/files/dangerous-dogs-annexc-privateproperty-ia-120423.pdf

I was watching a programme on ITV not that long ago discussing these problems. As it stands if a dog attack occurs on private property then it is NOT a criminal offence. The government are looking to change this because postmen etc are being mauled by dogs. Personally i think this could lead to all kinds of problems with burglers who are traspassing on private property being able to turn the criminal offence round on to the victimised householder if their dog should attack on their own property. If the government were to enforce this act then i think that all dog owners would be required by law to display a warning sign to cover their backs rather than the other way round.

I dont know about the wording of 'beware of the dog signs though'
By Goldmali (****) [gb] Date 20.08.12 09:12 GMT
I was watching a programme on ITV not that long ago discussing these problems. As it stands if a dog attack occurs on private property then it is NOT a criminal offence.

No, but as I pointed out -the dog can still be put to sleep under the 1871 Dogs Act. The difference is the OWNER will not be fined in any way.
Marianne. Dogs are not our whole lives, there are cats too!
By JoStockbridge (**) [gb] Date 20.08.12 10:31 GMT
Personally i think this could lead to all kinds of problems with burglers who are traspassing on private property being able to turn the criminal offence round on to the victimised householder if their dog should attack on their own property.

When i read about that they said about a clause for burglers so the owners/dogs would be safe in that event, If they do change the law hopfully they will put that in.
By tohme (****) Date 20.08.12 14:04 GMT
The question to ask is, is there any case law on this? ;-)
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