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Enforcement powers for irresponsible dog owners

A Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) means we can fine irresponsible dog owners.

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 brought in PSPOs. Having consulted in 2017 and 2023, our current order was created to:

  • help create safe and welcoming play areas and green spaces 
  • reduce the number of stray dogs
  • enable authorised staff to request dogs are put on leads when necessary
  • tackle dog fouling issues
  • reduce the amount of dogs that walkers can safely take out at any one time

What does our PSPO mean for dog owners

Public Space Protection Order video transcript (PDF) [115KB]

It is an offence in County Durham if you:

  • allow a dog to foul without picking it up 
  • allow a dog to stray (ie allow a dog to wander or roam loose/exercise without a responsible owner)
  • fail to put a dog on a lead when asked to do so by an authorised person (council staff such as neighbourhood wardens or Durham Constabulary police officer)
  • walk more than six dogs together at any one time
  • allow dogs into a designated fenced off play area (play sites affected will display a sign), or a designated tennis court, multi-use games area or sport pitch
  • fail to put your dog on a lead in designated cemeteries and graveyards 

View the  Public Space Protection Order for responsible dog ownership (PDF) [1MB] .

As well as the dog control powers included in the PSPO, other dog control arrangements may apply in our parks.

Identification tags and microchips

Legally, all dogs must wear a collar and ID tag when out in public, which must detail their owner's name and address. They must also be microchipped. Microchips sometimes, however, move - making them hard to find. And sometimes details are not updated, so a back identification tag helps our neighbourhood wardens reunite dogs with their owners, also keeping communities free of stray dogs. 

See Dog microchipping, collars and ID tags for more information.

Enforcement and penalties

Neighbourhood wardens, trained council staff and Durham Constabulary will have the power to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) (fine) of £100 for failing to meet any area of the PSPO. 

If the FPN is not paid, you will be taken to Court and prosecuted. The maximum fine is £1,000. Prosecution might be appropriate for repeat offenders, or if the offence is so serious that it merits prosecution. For example: a dog owner that allows their dog to be dangerously out of control, despite being directed by an officer to put it on a lead, may risk prosecution, rather than being issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice.


The PSPO does not apply to a person who is registered as blind, is disabled or who uses a trained assistance dog. 

Report a dog issue

Dangerous dogs or emergency dog situations should be reported directly to the Police. Call 999.


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