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It is important to keep in the know about the rules of taking a winter walk with your pet dog this Christmas, or you may be given a big fine that won't leave you feeling very festive.
Taking your dog off its lead is permitted in most UK parks and wooded areas – but it is still illegal in some areas.
If you can’t see any signs pointing you to any restrictions, then it is most likely fine to let your dog roam free.
But they obviously need to be on a lead near roads, footpaths, car parks, play areas and some ponds or streams at particular times of the year.
Some areas such as flower beds, beaches, and pitches are considered off-limits, but it is vital to keep an eye out for signs pointing dog owners to the rules.
Local authorities can put a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in place to stop dogs from entering specific areas or tell owners to put them on a lead.
They can also put rules in place in terms of dog fouling or the maximum number of dogs one person can walk at one time.
If you ignore the rules put into force by the PSPO, you can be charged with a fixed penalty notice of £100.
People who go to court for breaching a PSPO or a Dog Control Order could be fined up to a sum of £1,000 if prosecuted.
Other rules regarding your dogs that can leave you with a substantial penalty that people tend to forget include ensuring your dog is microchipped and wearing a collar and tag in public.
Dog owners can get an unlimited fine if their dog isn't wearing an identity disc while walking them.
Dog owners who don’t follow these rules can be given a 21-day legal notice.
If dog owners fail to comply following the legal notice they could be fined up to £500 per dog.
Next time you want to let your dog wander around off the lead, make sure you double check for warnings beforehand.
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