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A dog walking guide to the Countryside Code

Nothing beats heading out into the open countryside with a furry friend at your heels. But, there are a few important things that you should know before they head into the wild with a dog. Sean Whiting is Director of country outfitters and pet supplies retailer Houghton Country. In this blog post, he’ll be taking us through the Countryside Code, and sharing a few tips for keeping your pooch safe while out on an adventure.

The Countryside Code is built on a simple set of principles: respect, protect, and enjoy. For people walking dogs, that means keeping both you and your dog safe from harm, and being respectful of the land and wildlife you encounter. As long as you take care to follow the simple rules I’ve shared below, both you and your canine companion should be all set for a safe and thoroughly enjoyable ramble though the countryside.

Plan your route and pay attention to signs

Before you get going, take the time to plan your outing, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. Check out the Ordinance Survey site to work out which public footpaths and rights of way you’re going to use, and make a note of any no-go areas, like private property or military land. It’s also a smart move to take a paper map along with you, as you never know when you might get caught out by a dead battery or lack of signal in a rural area.

Leave everywhere as you found it

Respecting the natural landscape is a big part of the Countryside Code, and you should do your best to leave everything exactly as you found it. That means picking up your litter, cleaning up your dog’s mess, and not taking plants or anything else you find away with you.

The same goes for farmer’s land and property too: unattended vehicles and farm equipment can be dangerous, so leave them well alone. Any gates you cross through should be left as you found them — and don’t assume that gates always need to be closed. Farmers will sometimes leave a gate open so that livestock can reach food or water so, if you find it already open, it’s best to leave it that way. If you arrive by car, be considerate when parking and don’t block any access roads or driveways.

Keep your dog safe and under control

It’s great to give your furry friend a chance to explore some new scenery, and maybe even stretch their legs with a game of fetch. But, it’s still important to keep them close by, so they don’t get lost or start bothering wildlife or livestock. Try to keep your dog where you can see them, and whatever you do, be sure to keep them on a close lead whenever you enter a field with livestock or horses. If you’re not 100% confident in your pet pal’s ability to come back when called, it’s usually safest to keep your dog on a lead throughout your walk.

Don’t forget to bring all the essential accessories with you, like poo bags and treats. A bottle of water and a collapsible bowl are a must on a hot day, too.  

The Countryside Code is designed to keep rural areas pleasant and safe for visitors to enjoy, without interfering with the lives of those who work and live there. So, be sure to follow the tips I’ve shared here before heading out into the wild for an adventure with your pet pooch. 

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