Dog control orders FAQs

Why is the council bringing in Dog Control Orders?

The majority of dog owners in Tower Hamlets are very responsible. They keep their dogs under control and clean up after them. The Dog Control Orders are proposed to stop the problems caused by the few irresponsible dog owners who spoil things for other dog owners and non dog owners alike in our public places.

What is a Dog Control Order?

The law allows councils to make orders to

  • keep dogs on leads in certain areas
  • ban dogs from certain areas
  • restrict the number of dogs a person can be in charge of at once
  • require a dog to be put on lead when a council officer requests it
  • require clean up after a dog fouls.

Where there is an Order, it is an offence not to follow it?

Anyone who doesn’t can get a Fixed Penalty Notice or be taken to court. 
What Control Orders are being proposed?

  1. A Dogs on Lead Order.  This will apply to all streets, pathways, footpaths, highways grass verges and car parks in the borough.
  2. A Dog Exclusion (Dog ban) Order.  This will apply to all children’s play areas, whether fenced or not, and to all fenced sports areas.
  3. A Specified Maximum Number of Dogs Order.  This will apply to any public area, including streets, parks and housing land.  The maximum number of dogs per person will be four.
  4. A Dogs on Lead by Direction Order.  This will apply to all outdoor public places in Tower Hamlets where dogs can usually be off lead.  It will mean that anyone walking a dog must put the dog on lead if asked to do so by a council Officer.
  5. A Fouling of Land by Dogs Order.  This will apply to all outdoor public places in Tower Hamlets and will mean that the person in charge of a dog must clean up after the dog defecates.

Will my dog have to be kept on lead in Victoria Park or any other park?

No. None of the proposed orders requires dogs to be routinely kept on lead in any of the borough’s parks. 

Will my dog have to be kept on lead on the street?

Yes, but this is not a new rule. It has always been required under the Road Traffic Act 1988, the council is just changing to a Dog Control Order so that it can deal with all dog control rules under one piece of legislation. 

My dog is very well behaved and walks to heel, why does it have to be on lead on the street?

Even the best-behaved dog can be distracted by an incident or another animal in the street and if this happens on a road, there is the possibility of an accident with injury to pedestrians, road users or even the dog. 

Are dock pathways included in the 'Dogs on Lead' Order?
No, this Order mirrors the Road Traffic Act rule currently in place which only applies to Highways land. Dock walkways are categorised as Parks land so don't come under this Order.
What is meant by a ‘Direction Order’?

Although dogs will still be able to exercise off lead in parks, this should be seen as a privilege for owners who can, and do, keep their dogs under control even when they are off lead. Dogs which owners either can’t or don’t keep under control are at best a nuisance and at worst a danger to other park users. The Direction Order is the facility for a council officer who observes a dog not under sufficient control to tell that dog’s owner to put that dog on lead. It is hoped that park users including walkers of well-controlled dogs would welcome this facility to address uncontrolled dog behaviour as it is happening.

What do you mean by ‘under control’?

It is impossible to list every scenario in which a dog falls under this description or outside it, but generally a dog will be considered to be under control if the owner remains aware of where the dog is and what is doing, and can call it to heel and have the dog return immediately. 

Are you going to produce maps showing what rules apply where?

No, because we hope the descriptions of types of land will be clear enough. Basically, dogs have to be kept on lead in the street but can exercise off lead in parks if the owner can keep it under control. If asked to put a dog on lead by a council officer, the person in charge of the dog must do so. Dogs are not allowed in children’s play areas or fenced sports areas.  No one may exercise more than four dogs at once and everyone has to clean up after their dog fouls anywhere in the borough at any time.

Will you be putting up signs saying what orders are in place?

We will be putting up as many signs as possible to guide people and will continue to spread the information about the orders through the website and local media and other campaigns. We favour knowledge and compliance over enforcement. We will do our best to educate everyone involved, but we also recognise the onus on the dog walker to familiarise him/herself with the rules of the borough when exercising a dog.

How will the orders be enforced?

By Dog Wardens, Tower Hamlets Enforcement Officers and possibly in future Park Rangers and other appropriate council staff.

What is defined as a children’s play area?

We are taking legal advice to clarify exactly what areas this will cover, but our aim is to apply this order to areas which contain any kind of equipment designed for children to play, whether that’s traditional swings and slides, cycle/skateboard ramps or any other. We recognise that where play areas are unfenced, there will have to be clear guidance as to the boundary of that play area, and this point is included in the legal advice we seek.  We will of course take into consideration any special features of the play area such as a path running through it, when making decisions about boundaries.

What is a public place for the purpose of Fouling, Maximum Number and On Lead By Direction Orders?
Any outdoor place where the public may go with or without payment.