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UK Dog call to action for responsible dog owners

Following the successful launch of UKDOG at Crufts 2003 - where dog owners nationwide were encouraged to form regional groups with a view to defending their rights as responsible owners - the Kennel Club and PRO Dogs are delighted to be able to publicise the results of the pilot questionnaires, which were distributed for completion so that UKDOG could best gauge owners’ needs.

Whilst initial feedback has been impressive, the Kennel Club and PRO Dogs would still like to receive comments from dog owners or enthusiasts who are interested in completing the UKDOG questionnaire or may be willing to establish their own UKDOG group.

In summary of the questionnaires findings, three quarters of all respondents said that having a dog makes them go out walking more, and gives them a healthier lifestyle. Furthermore, there would seem to be a very legitimate case to say that responsible dog ownership has real potential to promote and support Government targets for healthier lifestyles and social inclusion. Many of the respondents exercised their dogs for more than 30 minutes per day, five or more times a week. This level of exercise can ‘help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, some cancers, strokes and obesity’ according to the Government publication, Game Plan: a strategy for delivering the Government’s sport and physical activity objectives.

The results show a very high degree of agreement that dogs enhance people’s lives. 93% of respondents ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that dogs make a positive contribution to their lives. Also, 83% of respondents ‘strongly agreed’ that owning a dog makes them feel safer whilst out walking, and 77% felt that owning a dog made them feel more secure when in their own home.

Respondents were also asked to grade 17 points of action for UKDOG to consider, in order of importance. Amongst the most important areas that respondents felt UKDOG should be involved in are - issues of enforcement of dog fouling laws, closely monitoring local byelaws banning dogs from public areas such as parks, beaches, commons and village greens, and preventing the loss of access to buildings for training and show purposes. Over 90% of all respondents rated these issues as being ‘important’ or ‘very important’ and virtually all felt that, in what would appear to be an ever-increasing anti-dog society, promoting more responsible dog ownership was key to protecting and promoting the dogs varied and important roles in society.

Said Mike Findlay, Chief Executive Officer of PRO Dogs, "This is ground-breaking information on which, at last, we can act to support dogs owners throughout the UK. Such details have never been available before, but in order to be most effective, we need more information from concerned dog owners from a wider area than could be covered by those attending Crufts this year. If you are so motivated and intend to follow in the excellent path of the New Forest Dog Owners’ Group (NFDOG) to have influential and effective dialogue with anti-dog factors in your area, again contact UKDOG for a ‘starter pack’."

Phil Buckley, the KC’s External Affairs Manager continued, "We see the setting up of UKDOG as key to future local lobbying activity and regional groups hold the key to success. Politicians prefer to receive contact and correspondence from their local constituents, and these queries are given priority, especially in the run up to elections.

It is in the interests of Members of Parliament to be alive to the concerns of his or her constituents, and that is why it is imperative that more owners come forward to become involved in UKDOG, as they really can make a difference with regard to the legislative process."

If readers would like a ‘welcome pack’ from UKDOG, which includes advice on establishing local Dog Owners Groups, please contact the secretariat, UKDOG, 4 New Road, Ditton, Kent, ME20 6AD, Tel: 01732 848499, Fax: 01732 842175, email: