Many walkers enjoy sharing life outdoors with their dogs; it's estimated that around one-third of countryside visits are made by dog walkers. There's little chance of the dog in the photo (supplied by the British Canoe Union) getting into any trouble or causing offence in the outdoors but dogs must be controlled so that they do not disturb livestock or wildlife. As well as common sense and consideration, it's the law. On open access land, they should on short leads from 1 March to 31 July; near sheep, that applies throughout the year. On public rights of way, it is the owner's responsibility to make sure their pet doesn't upset other walkers.
'You and your dog in the countryside'
- Animals, young and old, can be nervous and easily frightened so don't take your dog near them.
- Don't let your dog into fields with crops growing unless you are on a right of way; keep your dog on the path.
- If you find yourself in a field of livestock, try to avoid them, keeping your pet close on a short lead.
- Sometimes, curious animals may appear aggressive as they trot towards you. At other times, they might be more than just curious! If in doubt, let your dog go and leave the field by the shortest route even if that means turning back.
- Although birds may not be obvious, during their breeding season (usually April- July), you should keep your dog on a short lead in areas such as moorland, forests, open grassland, lochs and by the sea.
- 'Poop and scoop' wherever you take your dog as it avoids spreading parasites to wildlife.
- Be considerate to other walkers approaching you by fixing the lead on your dog.
- Don't let your dog run up to people to greet them enthusiastically.
- You know that your pet is friendly, curious and affectionate but others may not share your feelings towards your pet and may be scared of dogs.
has been published jointly by Natural England and the Kennel Club as a guide to acting responsibly and not breaking the law. It includes advice on where you can go, travelling, protecting the environment, keeping your dog healthy and more info on other bodies which are useful for support. It can be downloaded from the publications section at www.naturalengland.org.uk. Outdoor access and rules about dogs are different in Scotland; check out www.outdooraccess-scotland.com.