How to walk a dog safely in the countryside
If you haven’t walked in the countryside before, the rules may seem daunting. Knowing how to keep your dog safe around cattle, finding public footpaths and keeping yourself safe on country roads are some of the useful tips that will keep you safe and help you enjoy your next walk in the countryside. We explain more in this guide to dog walking in the countryside.
Did you know?
There is an official Countryside Code written by the government for all visitors to the countryside? It covers everything from protecting the environment to knowing the law of private property vs public land. It is a thorough explanation of everything you need to know and covers some of the tips we will be discussing today.
Their slogan is ‘Respect, Protect, Enjoy’.
1) Before you go
Where necessary, you should plan your route out. If you are going for a long walk away from civilisation, make sure to take maps, guidebooks and any other essential resources with you.
Even if you are staying closer to home, remember to check the weather before you leave so you aren’t caught out.
2) Setting out
If part of your route includes walking along roads, make sure to always walk facing traffic. This makes it easier for traffic to see you and you can see oncoming traffic. Where necessary you should stop or step onto the grass verge to allow traffic to pass.
If you don’t know how to find a public footpath, make sure to brush up on signage. A yellow arrow on a stump or gate post will point you in the direction of a public footpath and keep you on track during your walk.
3) During the walk
There are a few things that are not only polite for other users of these paths but also help to protect the environment you are enjoying.
- Leave all gates as you find them or follow signs that say to keep the gate closed after you.
- Leave all the property you pass through as you found it. Take home your litter and don’t forget to pick up your dog poo. This is essential even in the countryside.
- In many places, it is common courtesy to acknowledge other people you come across. A simple nod or ‘hello’ is enough!
4) Keeping your dog safe
There are certain rules when it comes to dogs around farm animals that you should be aware of.
- During lambing season, you must keep a lead on when you are in a field with animals. Generally, this is March to July when mothers become more protective and farmers are vigilant.
- Outside of these times or even in fields that don’t appear to have animals, you should follow any signs that are put out by the council or landowner. This will prevent any misunderstandings and keep your dog safe. Although it isn’t common, landowners do have the right to shoot dogs who threaten their livestock or sue you if anything were to happen.
Ensuring your dog is under control at all times is essential to keep both your dog and the local wildlife safe. Make sure your dog has excellent recall if you are letting them off the lead so that you can keep them away from farm animals, wildlife and other dogs you may pass.
Walking in the countryside can be such a pleasant experience and is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with your dog. Dogs who need a lot of exercise will benefit from the ability to run freely and explore new sights and smells.
Whether you are taking a borrowed dog out for the first time or are a countryside native, we would love to see your pics of you enjoying the countryside with your four-legged friends! Make sure to tag us in any photos you upload as we want to share them with our community.