The Country Code

Dog Walkers Warned to Clue Up on Countryside Code

Dog owners have been warned by the Kennel Club to get clued up on the Countryside Code, in a bid to prevent more tragic deaths occurring over the summer months in the countryside.

Dog owners have a responsibility under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act to keep their dogs on a lead in the vicinity of livestock. The Kennel Club is concerned that the recent incidents involving stampeding cattle, which have been spooked by dogs and walkers, will increase unless dog owners get to grips with what is expected of them in the countryside.

Legally, dog owners are not required to use a lead on public paths as long as the dog is under close control, but the Kennel Club advises that dog owners always clip on the lead if they cannot rely on their dog’s obedience since a barking or running dog will attract the attention of livestock.

Owners should never let a dog approach or chase wildlife and farm animals – there is a serious possibility of getting kicked or trampled, and in extreme cases dogs may be shot by landowners for chasing livestock. At certain times, dogs are not allowed in some areas to protect sensitive breeding sites – dog-owners should follow the signs.

Kennel Club Communications Director Caroline Kisko said: “More and more people are venturing out into the countryside with their dogs over the summer months, but those who live in urban areas might have a potentially dangerous lack of knowledge about what they need to do to keep both them and their dog safe.

“Just as you would take precautions around busy roads and crowds of people in towns, dog owners also have a responsibility under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act to keep their dogs on a lead in the vicinity of livestock. The countryside is for all to enjoy but dog owners must be respectful of this issue when walking their dog. Young cattle are naturally curious and are particularly interested in dogs so avoiding fields with cattle grazing is a sensible precaution.

“If cattle turn on your dog, the best advice is to follow the Countryside Code – do not risk getting hurt by trying to protect you dog. Unclip its lead and get out of the field as quickly as possible – most dogs can run faster than their owner and will get out of harm’s way – then call your dog as soon as you are out of danger.”

Earlier this year, the Kennel Club teamed up with Peak District National Park rangers and rural police to remind pet owners that, by law, they must keep their dogs under control so that they do not scare farm animals and wildlife. It is also important to leave gates as you find them when walking through the countryside.

For more information on the countryside code and access visit http://www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk/

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