XL Bully Owners - What do the regulations mean for me?

With the XL Bully ban in force, dog parents all over the country are understandably becoming increasingly stressed. There’s nothing worse than facing the possible loss of your beloved family member and the government’s decision to ban the XL Bully has left people confused, scared and angry.

So how do you keep your dog safe with the new legislation? To help you understand the new rules and when you need to do what, I’ve set out a timeline to clear things up:

From December 31st 2023

Leash and Muzzle laws came into effect:

The first thing you’ll want to do is ensure your dog is muzzle trained and can comfortably walk on leash without pulling. From December you’ll be required by law to keep your dog on leash and muzzled in public, so preparing now will help your dog adjust better. 

Muzzles can be conditioned using food and positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to love their muzzle. Introducing them slowly is the key to success so don’t delay, start training as soon as possible.

I’d also recommend teaching your dog to walk nicely on the lead. You’ll want to be able to enjoy your walks and keep your dog comfortable so again, starting this as soon as possible is the best thing to do. Remember that leash training should be taught using positive methods as aversives like prong collars, slip leads and choke chains can create more issues in the long term.

XL Bullies cannot be bred, sold, advertised, change ownership, be abandoned or be allowed to stray:

The first thing you’ll need to know is that after this date, it will be illegal to rehome an XL Bully. That means that all breeding activity should be stopped immediately - you don’t want your dog to have puppies you can rehome.

You’ll also want to ensure your dog won’t need rehoming in the future. If there is anything that might affect your ability to keep your dog, speak to a certified trainer or rescue organisation as soon as possible.

Most importantly, you’ll want to check your home and garden to ensure there’s no way your dog can escape. If your dog is picked up as a stray this could seriously put their life at risk and could even result in you being charged with an offence.

From 31 January 2024

It will be illegal to own an XL Bully unless registered

As it stands you have until 31st January to register for a certificate of exception. This is incredibly important as it will be illegal to own an XL Bully without one.

31 January 2024

If your dog is older than 1 year old on this date, they must be neutered by 30 June 2024. While larger breeds can benefit from waiting until they are at least 18 months old, it’s really important to ensure your dog is neutered before this date.

If the worst were to happen and your dog was seized temporarily, you wouldn’t want an unknown kennel to be neutering your dog.

If your dog is less than 1 year old on 31 January 2024, they must be neutered by 31 December 2024.

Many shelters and charities are offering neutering for XL Bullies so it’s worth doing as much research as possible. Remember that neutering is a surgical procedure and you’ll want to get it done somewhere you trust. Prepping ahead of time is key to keeping your dog safe and healthy.

In summary

While it may seem overwhelming, breaking the legislation down into these key dates can help to simplify everything and keep you on track.

If you need additional support, don’t forget to keep an eye on our blog for more updates and feel free to get in touch for personalised advice.

Amelia Steele, VSA Certified Professional Dog Trainer & Behaviourist

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