The daily walk forms an important part of our dog’s routine; a chance for them to stretch their legs (and ours!). As it’s something we do every day, we may not always be aware of some of the rules and restrictions in place when we wander through the park or woodland.
It’s always best to research your local authority’s website to understand the laws in place for your area, but below are a few general points to keep in mind when out in public with your dog:
1. Cleaning up after your dog
It might seem like it goes without saying, but at some point, we’ve all been unfortunate enough to tread in another dog’s mess. As well as the unpleasantness it brings, it can also pose a health issue, with the parasites contained in dog faeces being harmful to both humans and livestock if ingested. Although certain public areas might not legally require you to clean up after your dog fouls (such as woodland or heathland), it’s always a good idea to get into the habit of doing so every time. This way, you do your bit to protect the environment while also avoiding any unwanted fixed penalty fines.
2. Being mindful of livestock
When out walking your dog through woodland and countryside, there’s a good chance that you will come across a range of livestock, such as sheep and cattle, out in fields. It’s important to ensure that your dog is kept on a short lead if you can see, or suspect, that livestock may be close by – even if they have never tended to chase before. As well as the obvious harm your dog biting livestock could cause, even chasing and barking can cause them distress, making them react irrationally and potentially putting yourself and your dog in danger. Did you know, it’s also an offence to allow a dog to worry sheep as they can become very poorly if stressed?
3. Walking with your dog on a lead
There are other local areas, in addition to the above, where you may have to ensure that your dog is kept on a lead. These include certain park areas as well as sports pitches and children’s playgrounds, and there is usually signage on display that provides information on any orders or restrictions. It’s always a good idea to check your local authority website if in any doubt though, as there are strong criminal punishments if your dog was to injure another person or make them fear injury.
4. Maintaining a safe distance
Not something you would have had to consciously consider before, but with recent events and current guidelines, maintaining social distancing has become a requirement within the daily dog walk routine. With the better weather over the summer months and no restrictions on our movements, local parks can be busy with families and fellow dog-walkers, which may mean having to be mindful of the route you take and how close your dog is to others.
You can find more advice about UK dog laws, including when out in a public place at https://www.gov.scot/publications/code-practice-welfare-dogs/pages/9/