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Dog owner’s responsibilities

As a dog owner, you need to know about dog laws and your responsibilities to protect yourself and others around you.

COVID-19 (coronavirus) update

We are advising all animal owners to ensure their pets are kept under control during coronavirus (COVID-19). This is to ensure the safety of members of the public, and to enable social distancing guidance to be followed. 

We ask that dogs are kept on a lead when out in public, and for dog owners to check that their pets are secure when they are at home to minimise the risk of straying.

Information for dog owners

Dog licences Contact us
Dog fouling Green Dog Walkers pledge
Microchipping Dead animals
Dog straying and controlling your dog Puppy buying guidance


Dog licences 

  • All dogs must have a valid licence and wear identification with the name and address of their keeper. 
  • All dogs must also be fitted with a microchip. 

If you do not license your dog you may receive a £80 fixed penalty notice.

Dog fouling 

It is the responsibility of dog owners to clean up after their dog.

You should always pick up your dog waste and put it in the nearest litter bin. You can use any plastic bag and any litter bin, including your black bin at home. Don't put dog waste in your blue or brown bins as this can contaminate them.

If you do not pick up after your dog, you may receive a £80 fixed penalty notice. If paid within 10 days, the fine will be reduced to £50.

If you don’t pay this fine, we can take you to court where the fine could increase to up to £1,000.


  • Carry a plastic bag or 'poop scoop' with you
  • Teach your dog to go to the toilet in your garden before you leave home
  • Never let your dog onto the street to foul
  • Respect dog-free areas


All dogs must be fitted with a microchip before licensing. Microchipping helps to identify dogs if they go missing.

Where can I get my dog microchipped?

Most vets offer a microchipping service. Animal welfare groups such as the Dogs Trust, can also fit dogs with chips.

How much does it cost?

Microchipping costs between £20 and £30.

Groups like the Dogs Trust sometimes offer free or reduced prices.


You must always be in control of your dog and not let it stray. If your dog is straying, you may receive a £80 fixed penalty notice. This covers the Belfast City Council area, including all parks and open spaces. Dogs must be kept on a lead when out in public. 

You can help reduce the number of stray dogs on our streets by:

  • fitting your dog with a microchip so it can be traced if it goes missing
  • considering getting your dog neutered to prevent unwanted litters
  • checking that you have a valid dog licence

Dogs in your control

When in public, you can only have four dogs under your control at any one time. If anyone is caught in control of more than four dogs at one time, they may receive a £80 fixed penalty notice.

The Dogs (Specified Maximum) (Belfast) Order 2012 was created under The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (NI) 2011 and covers the Belfast City Council area, including all parks and open spaces. 

Dogs in cars

It's important to care for your dog when taking them out by car during the warmer months. In as little as 15 minutes a dog could suffer heatstroke and die due to hot conditions in a car.

If your dog shows any symptoms of heatstroke, move him or her to a shaded, cool area and call your vet for advice immediately. Heatstroke can be fatal and should always be treated as an emergency.

Tips to keep your dog cool

  • Make sure your dog is always able to move to a cooler, ventilated environment if they’re feeling hot.
  • Never leave your dog alone in a glass conservatory or a caravan. Even if it’s cloudy when you leave, the sun may come out later in the day and make it unbearably hot.
  • If your dog is outside you should provide a cool spot in the shade so they can escape the sun.
  • Make sure your dog always has a supply of drinking water. If you’re out on a hot day, carry water with you and give your dog small amounts regularly.
  • Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening so your dog isn’t exercising a lot in hot weather.
  • Dogs with light coloured fur on their ears can get sunburnt. Ask your vet for advice on safe sunscreen. 

You can report a dog or animal welfare issue

Dead animals

If an animal dies in your house, you must make your own arrangements to dispose of it.

Control of Greyhounds Act (Northern Ireland) 1950

There are specific requirements for greyhounds, whippet and lurcher type dogs.

  • When exercised or led in a street or other public place, greyhounds must be kept under control and muzzled.
  • No more than two greyhounds should be exercised or led by any one person in any street, road, highway or other public place.

Greyhound within the meaning of the legislation includes any greyhound or whippet and any breed, strain, or cross thereof. A lurcher is a cross-breed of a greyhound or whippet and therefore is covered by this legislation. Failure to comply with the above requirements may result in a £80 fixed penalty notice

Contact us

Dog control 

If you have a question, or require more information you can email us at or call 028 9027 0230.

You can also visit our offices at:

Dog Wardens
Ground Floor
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street

Green Dog Walkers

The Green Dog Walkers scheme is a UK wide community-based campaign to change attitudes about dog fouling. We are using the scheme as an innovative approach to dog fouling, which is one of the most controversial issues we deal with.

By taking the pledge and using the Green Dog Walkers lead, you will commit to:

  • always cleaning up after your dog, 
  • carrying extra dog bags, and 
  • give other dog walkers free dog bags.

In return, you'll receive a Green Dog Walkers lead and a small supply of dog bags.

How to become a Green Dog Walker 

To become a Green Dog Walker, read the pledge:

Green Dog Walkers pledge 

I hereby volunteer to accept a Green Dog Walkers lead and pledge to take part in the campaign as follows: 

  • I will use the lead as often as possible when walking my dog(s). 
  • I will at all times clean up after my dog and dispose of the bag in a bin.
  • When others walk my dog, I will encourage them to clean up after my dog.
  • I understand that using the lead indicates that I will carry extra dog bags to distribute to other dog walkers if requested. 
  • At no time when using the lead will I aggressively confront other dog walkers about dog fouling. I fully understand that Green Dog Walkers is intended to be a non-confrontational and friendly campaign to change attitudes about dog fouling. 
  • I agree that Green Dog Walkers may contact me to take part in questionnaires or surveys regarding my Green Dog Walkers experience, to help judge the success of the project. 

Now you can complete our online form 

When we receive your submission, we will send you a Green Dog Walkers lead for your pet or these can be collected from this address: 

Dog Wardens
Ground Floor 
Cecil Ward Building 
4-10 Linenhall Street 
BT2 8BP 

Office opening hours

The office opening hours are:

Day Opening hours
Monday to Thursday  8.30am - 5pm
Friday  8.30am - 4.30pm
Public and bank holidays  View holiday arrangements


Please be aware that whilst we welcome anyone to join the scheme and sign the pledge to cleanup after your dog, only residents within the Belfast City Council boundary will receive a Green Dog Walkers lead. 

Contact us

For further information, email our Community Awareness team at or call 028 9027 0230.

Puppy buying guidance

Owning a puppy or dog is a big commitment and before you buy one, here are a few things to consider:

  • What are you looking for in a dog?  Is the dog needed as a guard dog, lapdog, or rescue dog? 
  • Do you have time and the means to walk, train, groom, feed, provide veterinary care and play with the dog?
The law says you must look after your animal by making sure it:

  • has a proper diet, including fresh water
  • has somewhere suitable to live
  • is kept with or away from other animals, depending on its needs
  • is allowed to express itself and behave normally
  • is protected from, and treated for, illness and injury
Find out more about the RSPCA’s puppy contract and a “puppy information pack”