Responsible pet ownership

Responsible pet ownership

The information in this section outlines pet owners' social responsibilities. All pet owners have a duty of care towards their pets and they must ensure that they do not cause a nuisance to neighbours or the community.


FoulingFouling by dogs and cats is one of the main causes of problems with both landlords and neighbours so it's important that all pets are toilet trained and that their owners always clean up after them.

Most dogs are toilet trained as puppies so fouling indoors should not be a problem. If a dog has not been toilet trained, it will need to be trained as soon as possible.

Dogs will generally toilet in the garden or during their daily walks. Dog owners are responsible by law for clearing up after their dog in public and can be fined for not doing so. Dog faeces must always be picked up from communal areas, walkways or in the garden.

Cat fouling is not covered by any law but cats should be provided with a litter tray indoors to discourage them from fouling in neighbours' gardens.


Some pets can cause a nuisance to neighbours through excessive noise. If this happens, the owners must investigate the cause of the problem as soon as possible.

Excessive noise is most likely to be caused by barking dogs. Dogs bark for many different reasons, including excitement, fear, boredom, frustration, because they are guarding the home or because they cannot cope with being left alone. Dog owners who are unable to solve the problem on their own should contact a veterinary surgeon, dog behaviourist or animal welfare organisation for advice. Information on barking is also available on our website at

Abandonment and neglect

AbandonmentAll pet owners are responsible for their pet's health and wellbeing. They have a ‘duty of care’ to provide their pets with adequate food and water, exercise, a suitable place to live and access to veterinary treatment. Any pet owner who does not provide for their pet's needs, or who abandons or neglects an animal in their care, may be reported to the RSPCA and prosecuted.

Any pet owner who is going on holiday and leaving their pets behind must ensure that someone will be able to care for them until they return. Usually this would mean taking the pet to a friend or family member or arranging for them to go to a kennel or cattery.

Damage to property

Damage caused to properties and furnishings is one of the top reasons why landlords will not accept pets in their properties. Insurance policies, such as contents insurance, will not cover any damage caused by pets so it's important that tenants do everything they can to prevent it from happening.

Small animals such as hamsters, gerbils and rabbits can cause a lot of damage as they have sharp teeth and enjoying gnawing. If small pets are let out of their cages to exercise, they must be supervised at all times. This is particularly important with wires and cables as they can gnaw through them and cause damage both to the property and to themselves.

Cats claw as part of their natural behaviour so they should always be provided with a scratching post and toys to occupy them while they are indoors. This should also prevent them from clawing at the carpets and furniture.

Dogs who are bored or left at home for long periods of time are more likely to cause damage to property and furnishings. Dogs Trust recommends that dogs are not left alone for more than 4 hours at a time. Dogs that are left at home should be given plenty of toys and other distractions to occupy him.