A dog owner’s guide to the countryside code – by Sean Whiting, Houghton Country

Posted By Hazel Winstanley / 29th May 2019 / Days Out / 0 Comments

Hi my doggie friends,

Spring has finally sprung and what’s better than a lovely spring walk in the countryside with man’s best friend? Sean Whiting, from equestrian and country specialists Houghton Country, has given us his expert advice on how you can respect the countryside and keep your dog safe this season.

Who doesn’t love a nice walk in the countryside? But, when you’re out with your dog this spring, it’s important that you be considerate of the area, so you can both stay safe and avoid causing any problems for other people. In this article I’ll be highlighting the parts of the all-important countryside code that are especially important for dog walkers.

Respect the area

When walking in the countryside, it’s important to be mindful of the area and the people living there. Always leave things, such as gates, as you find them. Farmers may keep gates closed to stop animals escaping, or they may leave them open to allow their animals to get to food and water. If you do see any animals, try not to interfere with them, even if they look like they might be in trouble. If this is the case, your first port of call should be to alert the farmer. If you can’t find them, you can call the RSPCA and notify them of the issue.

As with anywhere, always clean up after yourself and your dog. If you stop for lunch, take all your rubbish with you and put it in the bin when you find one.

Keep your dog under control

The countryside can provide some pleasant walks for both you and your dog, but it’s important to know where you can walk, and how to control your dog while you’re out. Always try to walk on paths, unless wider common land or open country, known as open access land, is available for you to walk on. These areas include mountains, moors, heaths, and downs that are privately owned or registered with the council as common land. You can use this handy tool to search for open access land in England.

When walking on open access land between 1st March and 31st July, you are required by law to keep your dog on a lead, because this is when birds are usually nesting. On public paths, you can take your dog off its lead as long as you can trust it to behave well and you can still keep close control should anything happen.

Don’t disrupt farm or wild animals and always keep dogs on leads when you’re near any. If an animal is spooked, don’t panic, but calmly leave the field as quickly and quietly as you can. If they start charging, let go of your dog’s lead and leave the area. It’s usually the dog that they see as a threat, and it can easily outrun livestock. But, as a rule of thumb, try to stay as far away from other animals as you can.

If you have to pass any horses with their riders, ask your dog to sit and wait patiently until they have passed by to avoid the horse getting spooked. And always remember to reward your dog with treats for behaving well around animals.

Plan ahead and stay safe

Pack things that you’re going to need on your walk, such as water, food and, poo bags. If you can, pack a portable water bowl for your dog, which can easily be folded up and put into your bag or backpack for when you need it. Or, as an alternative, you can get specially designed water bottles. If you can’t get access to either of these, a lot of pubs and shops leave out water bowls for thirsty dogs.

In Britain, our weather is hugely unpredictable, so you should always pack for a change in conditions. This doesn’t just mean packing coats in case it rains and hats and gloves in case it gets cold — you’ll also want to take reflective gear for both you and your dog to wear if it gets darks or misty, as this will ensure you’re still visible to motorists.

Try to stick to footpaths and make sure you follow signs so you don’t get lost in an unfamiliar area. If possible, try to take maps and guidebooks of the region with you.

A nice countryside walk can be great when accompanied by your dog. By following my advice to keep your dog under control and respect the area, your stroll with your pooch will be hassle-free.


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