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Dangerous Dogs Awareness Training

Dangerous Dogs Awareness


Course Background

In our daily lives, we often cross paths with our four-legged companions, dogs. These encounters can be pleasant and heartwarming. However, the reality is that not all dogs are friendly and approachable. It’s not uncommon for us to feel uneasy and apprehensive when facing dogs, we don’t know. This unease sometimes causes us to freeze, unsure of how to react. While it’s true that most dogs are harmless, there are situations when things take a different, potentially dangerous turn.

One such situation arises when employees engage in their work, which may involve home visits. Dogs, particularly unfamiliar and potentially aggressive ones, can pose a significant risk to employees during these visits. Understanding and mitigating these risks is of paramount importance, especially for professionals whose roles may bring them into contact with dogs exhibiting aggressive tendencies during home visits. These roles can include enforcement officers, housing staff, social workers, health workers, estate agents, probation workers, postal staff, mental health support workers, youth workers, and carers.

The risks associated with dogs in professional settings encompass a range of scenarios, from encounters on the street to interactions in clients’ homes. Aggressive dogs can pose a serious threat to human safety during home visits. Their unpredictable behaviour can lead to injuries, both physical and psychological, not only for the employees but also for other family members present.

It’s in these contexts that the Dangerous Dogs Awareness training becomes critically important. This half/full day training session is specifically designed to address these concerns head-on. It equips staff with the knowledge and skills they need to confidently navigate situations involving aggressive dogs, particularly during home visits, and, above all, to keep themselves safe.

By understanding the signals and triggers that can lead to aggressive behaviour in dogs, participants will be better prepared to handle encounters with these animals in clients’ homes in a secure and responsible manner. The training also sheds light on the legal framework surrounding dangerous dogs and the responsibilities of dog owners. This knowledge is essential for those who need to enforce regulations or interact with dog owners during home visits in various professional capacities.

Ultimately, the aim of this training is to empower individuals with the competence and confidence to respond effectively and safely when facing aggressive dogs, especially in the context of home visits. By doing so, we not only reduce the risks associated with these encounters but also enhance the well-being and security of the professionals who may find themselves in these challenging situations while carrying out their work duties.


In the United Kingdom, ensuring the safety and well-being of employees in the workplace is governed by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This landmark legislation establishes the essential framework and authority for promoting, regulating, and enforcing workplace health, safety, and welfare. Section 2 of this act emphatically states that “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, to the extent that is reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of all their employees.”

Part of this duty includes providing employees with the necessary information, instruction, training, and supervision to safeguard their health and safety while at work. Importantly, when the nature of an employee’s work reasonably exposes them to the risk of encountering a dangerous dog, it becomes imperative for employers to provide suitable training. This training equips employees with the knowledge and skills needed to take appropriate actions to ensure their safety in such situations.

The framework for addressing dangerous dogs in the UK also extends to specific legislation, including the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. This act was introduced by the UK Government in direct response to a sudden rise in fatal incidents resulting from dog attacks. The legislation aimed to address this serious issue by imposing specific bans, and under exceptional circumstances, certain conditions, on four breeds of dogs. These breeds were identified as the Dogo Argentino, Japanese Tosa, Fila Brasileiro, and the American Pit Bull Terrier.

Building upon these measures, the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, Part 7, specifically dealing with Dangerous Dogs, introduced further provisions to ensure dogs are kept under proper control. These provisions apply both in public and private places, reinforcing the importance of maintaining control over potentially dangerous dogs in all settings.

Understanding this legislative landscape is crucial for anyone whose work may bring them into contact with dogs, especially those that could be potentially dangerous. By adhering to these legal provisions and receiving appropriate training, individuals can work confidently and safely while mitigating the risks associated with interactions involving dangerous dogs. 

Dangerous Dogs Awareness Session Objectives: 

  • Comprehensive Understanding of Legal Framework: Delve into the Dangerous Dogs Act and associated legislation, along with workplace regulations relevant to encounters with dogs in professional contexts.
  • New Responsibilities for Dog Owners: Explore the evolving responsibilities placed on all dog owners due to recent legal changes and their impact on both the general public and professionals.
  • Insight into Canine Psychology: Gain valuable insights into the mindset of dogs, helping attendees better understand their behaviour and motivations.
  • Interpreting Canine Body Language: Learn to decipher the subtle and not-so-subtle cues in a dog’s body language, enabling assessment of their mood and intentions.
  • Preventing Injury During Dog Encounters: Acquire strategies and techniques for preventing injuries when encountering dogs, including methods to safely de-escalate situations.
  • Responding to Dog Bites: Understand the immediate actions to take if bitten by a dog, including first aid measures and appropriate reporting procedures.
  • Dealing with Aggressive Dogs: Develop skills to effectively handle situations involving aggressive dogs, ensuring personal safety and the safety of others.
  • Recognising Canine Stress: Learn how to identify signs of stress in dogs, allowing for early intervention and a safer environment for both humans and animals.
  • Identifying Banned Dog Breeds: Familiarise yourself with banned dog breeds and the safety precautions necessary when interacting with these animals.
  • Safety Equipment and Its Usage: Explore the current safety equipment available for handling dogs, understanding its application and effectiveness.
  • Hands-On Practical Exercises: Engage in practical exercises that simulate real-life encounters with dogs, providing a safe environment for hands-on learning.
  • Interactive Q&A Session: Participate in a dedicated question and answer session to reinforce the training concepts and address any specific queries or concerns.

This comprehensive list of session objectives ensures that attendees leave the training with a thorough understanding of the legal framework, canine behaviour, and practical skills needed to confidently and safely navigate encounters with potentially dangerous dogs.

Walter Pennell
Walter Pennell

The Trainer

Walter Pennell brings over three decades of invaluable experience to this training programme. His distinguished career spans thirty years with South Wales Police, where he left an indelible mark in various roles.

As a dedicated Police Dog handler for an impressive 22 years, Walter’s expertise extended to diverse specialist areas within canine policing. He achieved accreditation from the Association of Chief Police Officers, covering an array of specialized training domains. This included working alongside general-purpose dogs, particularly German Shepherds, and specialized conflict management dogs, collaborating closely with Tactical Firearms teams. Additionally, Walter handled dogs trained for specialist roles such as narcotics detection, cash detection, firearms residue detection, explosive detection, and fire investigation searches.

Walter’s unwavering commitment to public safety led him to retire from South Wales Police in October 2021, only to be re-employed as a civilian member of staff by the same force. His dedication continued as a Dog Legislation Officer, where he fulfilled a pivotal role in upholding dog-related regulations and safety. Walter’s impressive tenure in this position extended until his well-deserved retirement in August 2022.

Beyond his illustrious career, Walter has shared his expertise with the wider public. He has provided insightful press interviews on matters pertaining to the Dangerous Dogs Act and has made appearances on prominent television and radio stations, contributing to the public discourse on these crucial issues.


In January 2012, Walter undertook specialized training with the Metropolitan Police dog section, earning accreditation as a Dog Legislation Officer. This unique role empowered him to conduct examinations and assessments of dogs suspected of being prohibited under Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. He adeptly compiled comprehensive reports for the Courts, serving both Magistrates and Crown Courts.

Walter’s commitment to canine welfare extended to his participation as a permanent member of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Dangerous Dogs Working Group. This collaborative effort allowed him to work closely with partner agencies and contribute his expertise to critical discussions and initiatives.

During his tenure as a full-time Police Dog Legislation Officer (DLO), Walter was instrumental in conducting behavioural assessments on dogs seized by the police. His findings and insights played a pivotal role in Court proceedings. Notably, Walter’s dedication and expertise led to the successful prosecution of an organized dog fighting gang. Additionally, he served as the dedicated DLO in the tragic dog attack case in Cardiff in 2015, resulting in a groundbreaking prosecution under new legislation introduced in 2014, marking a significant milestone in UK law enforcement.

In 2016, Walter’s commitment to responsible dog ownership led to his inclusion in the core committee that collaborated on the “Wales Responsible Dog Ownership in Wales” review. This undertaking involved close cooperation with esteemed partner agencies such as the RSPCA, Dogs Trust, and Local Authorities.

For his outstanding contributions to the welfare of police-seized dogs and their unique requirements, Walter received a prestigious “Highly Commended” award from the RSPCA in the Innovation category. This recognition stands as a testament to his dedication to the welfare of animals and his exceptional service to the community.

Walter Pennell’s wealth of knowledge and unparalleled dedication make him an invaluable asset to this training programme. His real-world experiences and expertise promise a comprehensive and impactful learning experience for all participants.

Dangerous Dogs Awareness Session

Download a copy of the training program 

Actions if confronted by a dangerous dog

Legislation advice for dog owners


Please contact us
for further information 


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Safety Solutions Training Ltd.

7 Coryton Crescent


CF14 7EP