DOG owners are being advised of new rules that will come into force in County Durham at the beginning of next month.

Durham County Council is introducing a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to encourage responsible ownership and tackle issues such as dog fouling and strays.

People can find out more about the new rules through the council’s #FollowOurLead, campaign.

The order, which will replace the existing Dog Control Order introduced in 2009, means that from Thursday, June 1 it will be an offence to fail to pick up dog mess, allow a dog to stray, fail to put a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer or to allow a dog into any fenced-off play area named in the PSPO.

Anyone seen flouting the new rules will be issued with a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN), reduced to £60 if paid within 10 working days. Failing to pay the FPN will result in court action and a possible fine of up to £1,000.

The order will not apply to anyone who is registered blind, is disabled or who uses a trained assistance dog.

To help owners abide by the new rules, a designated dog exercise area is available at Hardwick Park, Sedgefield. Similar areas will also be available soon at Chester-le-Street's Riverside Park and Waldridge Fell Country Park.

Ian Hoult, Durham County Council’s neighbourhood protection manager, said: “The new order will enable us to crack down on these problems, making our communities safer, cleaner and more welcoming for everyone.

The order is also being supported by a number of town and parish councils. For more information on the PSPO and a list of fenced off play areas included in the PSPO visit