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Steps to follow if you are worried your dog may be caught up in the XL Bully ban.

So, for anyone that hasn’t seen the news, the government have now released their criteria to assess if a dog is an XL Bully. These criteria will be used by enforcers when assessing dogs, to decide if they are to be classed as a banned XL Bully. Unfortunately, these criteria are vague and any medium to large muscular dog is now at risk of being typed as an XL Bully.

At present for banned breeds (for example Pitbulls), DNA tests or registration papers can not be used as evidence to prove the dog is not a banned breed, because the set criteria for the breed alone are used to assess if a dog is of that ‘type’. If the dog’s measurements match a significant number of the criteria, the dog is classed as a banned breed; even if they are a different breed and you have evidence to prove otherwise. I am hoping the government will release further guidance around large dog’s that are clearly not XL Bully (for example mastiff’s) but as of yet there is no further information available.

If you have a muscular dog of any size or breed, I recommend you urgently take the following steps:

Step 2 – measure your dog and see if they have the potential to match a ‘significant’ number of the criteria. Tips – use a material tape measure as it is easier, make it fun for your dog and use lots of praise and treats (some nervous/anxious dog’s may be scared of the tape measure, if so, take it slow and introduce the tape measure slowly to them, pairing it with treats and play).

Step 3 – if you think you dog could possibly be included in the ban, read the government guidance on preparing for the ban, which can be found here:

Step 4 – if you think you dog could possibly be included in the ban, get a well-fitting muzzle urgently. The government have not given very long at all to get these dog’s muzzle trained and all dogs of this type must wear a muzzle when out in public from the 31st of December.

When looking at muzzles, your dog needs to be able to pant, yawn and drink. Join Muzzle Up, Pup! - The Pro-Muzzle here: Community This group is an amazing place to get advice about muzzles to fit your dog. Whilst waiting for your well-fitting muzzle to arrive, buy a cheap Baskerville and start training ASAP. A list of free muzzle training resources can be found below:

Step 5 – Join The Dogs Trust as a member to get free liability insurance here (this will be needed if you have a dog typed as a banned breed:

Step 6 – Ensure your dog is microchipped and your details are up to date.

Step 7 – read over the guidance around neutering as you don’t have long to get this done. The guidance states “You will also need to neuter your dog. If your dog is less than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If your dog is older than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 30 June 2024”.

Step 8 - await more guidance from the government about the exemption process. We don’t have any details about this yet apart from it costing £92.40 and all dog’s been registered by the 31 January 2024.

Step 9 – check your garden, gates and fences. Part of the exemption criteria is to keep your dog secure so it can’t escape.

My heart goes out to every single one of you and all of the innocent dog’s that will lose their life because of the ban. If you don’t own a dog that is affected by the ban, please can I ask you show your support to other owners who are likely upset, anxious and extremely stressed. Let’s all pull together to support one another and most importantly be kind x

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