A SECURE paddock for dogs to exercise says it has been forced to ask owners of the banned XL bullies to keep them on a muzzle and lead when visiting.

XL bully dogs are now banned in England and Wales and it has become a criminal offence to own the breed without a special certificate.

READ MORE: Owner of American bully breed 'devastated' by government ban

The new rules introduced this year make it illegal to breed, sell, or walk XL bully dogs in public without a lead and a muzzle.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the ban is needed to “protect the public from devastating dog attacks”.

However, the owner of an American bully breed from Basingstoke said the new rules introduced at Paw Paddock in Mapledurwell following the ban mean she has nowhere to exercise her dog off a lead.

The woman, who did not want to be named because of the backlash she has received since the ban was announced, said: “When do our dogs get to run around and play? It’s utterly ridiculous. There will now be loads of large breed dogs with a significant amount of energy and no way to realise it.”

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She added: “I don’t mind the muzzle so much it’s the fact they need to be on leads. How ridiculous! How can they run around? I might as well just take him out on a two hour walk.”

Paw Paddock, which operates exclusive, enclosed and secure dog walk facilities across the country, fully enclosed by six-foot fences, said it is still trying to gain clarification from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on whether XL bullies can be off lead at its paddocks.

A statement sent to customers said: “First of all, we want to state our devastation during these past few difficult months for all owners of XL Bullies, we have been working non-stop behind the scenes to have the best outcome for all customers, however, unfortunately, our hands are tied as we are still awaiting a response from DEFRA.”

While it waits for a response it is asking customers to comply with the new guidelines meaning XL bully dogs must be kept on a lead and muzzled.

“We are currently seeking guidance and clarification from DEFRA on whether our paddocks are deemed as public spaces. We are hoping for a positive outcome, but unfortunately, it is not currently looking likely,” the statement added.

A member of staff at the Mapledurwell paddock said they have been trying to get answers from DEFRA, adding: “We are waiting for a response. We are going back and forward to figure out more. We haven’t banned any breeds but our hands are tied and we’re trying to do all we can for the best for everyone.”

However, she said the rule update had resulted in negative response from some owners of XL bullies, adding: “We have had backlash that’s become personal.”

DEFRA has been asked for further information.