Walking with Dogs
Each year, millions of dogs enjoy a walk in the countryside with their owners, but there are a few things to remember to keep the countryside a pleasant place for you, your dog and fellow walkers.
All our walks have details about whether you should keep you dog on a lead, and any potiential hazzards.
On this page is some great information and advice on walking safely and confidently with you dog. On the right there's also our podcast "Dog Walking Tips" from our range of podcasts - more of which can be found here.
Keeping your dog under control
Lead or no lead...
On a public right of way, you don’t have to keep your dog on a lead – but they must always be under close control. If you can not completely rely on their obedience, it is better to keep it on a lead. Flexible leads are available which will allow your dog the freedom to explore and give you the control of bringing them back to you when you need them to be.
Under the Countryside Rights of Way Act in England and Wales, you must keep your dog on a short lead (up to 2 metres) on Open Access land between 1 March and 31 July, and at all other times when near farm animals.
Look out for cyclists, runners and horseriders – they can be startled by your dog – or your dog could be startled to them – so it’s always best to keep your dog on a short lead as they come past.
Even the most pet-friendly person can be made uncomfortable by dogs, so don’t let your dog approach other dogs or people unless they are happy with this.
Even well-behaved dogs can scare wildlife away from their young, and during the ground-nesting season of 1st March and 31st July this is extremely important.
You can help protect our wildlife by keeping your dog on a short lead and keeping to designated tracks during this time.
Livestock will often see your dog as a threat. Sheep and lambs will often run away from a dog (particularly if they are Border Collies!) Cows may become aggressive to try to protect their young.
It is an offence to allow a dog to worry livestock, and any dog doing so can be legally shot.
To prevent any problems, always keep your dog on a short lead near farm animals.
However, cattle can act aggressively. The types of cattle to be avoided are bulls, heifers with their calves and young bullocks. In this situation, it doesn't really matter if you drop the lead or not, as your dog will more than likely want to stay by you to protect you. Just make sure you get to a place of safety.
Clean up all mess
Don’t give your dog – and all other dogs - a bad name… always deal with your dog’s mess!
Take special care to not leave dog mess on paths or areas where people walk. Remember that arable crops and grass are used for producing food for people or livestock, so always clean up in farmland too. Scented baby nappy bags are great for this as they hide the smell until you can dispose of the mess safely. Old fashioned carrier bags are ok if well tied up.
In many areas, there are special waste bins for dog mess - like these ones at The Trentham Estate.
Remember, dog owners have a legal duty to clean up every time your dog messes on "Designated Land" - which includes the following...
Pavements, verges and highway land within a maximum speed limit of 40 mph or lower
All public owned land accessible to the public within towns and villages
Playing fields, parks, playgrounds, recreation grounds, holiday camps, caravan sites, car parks, picnic sites, churchyards and cemeteries
Public footpaths and bridleways at which “No Fouling” signs are displayed
All play, recreation and picnic areas at public houses and hotels.
Legal measures to prevent dog mess are contained in the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, which allows local councils and communities to create byelaws relating to dog mess. Many "No Fouling" signs - like the one on the left - still quote the older Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996, but should continue to be observed.
Going away walking with your dog
There are some fantastic accommodation providers who aren't dog-ist, and allow your canine friends to stay as well - so you can go on great walks in the countryside together!
Cadair View Lodge
Log cabin accommodation on a mountainside in the south of the Snowdonia National Park.
The Peacock at Rowsley is a small luxury hotel in the Peak District National Park.