Walks for Dogs
Q. Would it be possible to add a rider to your excellent walks regarding dogs on walks?
I walk with three dogs and when choosing a walk I need to know:
a) if it is suitable for dogs - i.e. lots of farm animals
b) if dogs can be off leash.
A. Hmm, I'm not sure how we could implement this. Unfortunately we have no way of knowing what any one field will be used for from one day to the next. Further more, a lot of our farmland walks pass through several different farms - anyone of which may carry livestock - which may be deployed anywhere on the farm with no regard to footpaths and rights of way (except dangerous animals like Bulls - see Bulls under the 'Fell Facts' hill).
Regarding the second part of your question about dogs off leash, the Country Code states (amongst other things) that you should at all times 'Keep your dogs under close control'.
Whether or not that means you can let your dog off the leash is something only the individual dog owner will know. I guess it will depend on your dog's temperament and how well he/she is trained.
However, there is a persistent rumour that if a farmer finds an unleashed dog on his property (whether there are animals there or not) he/she is entitled to shoot it. I'm not sure whether this has ever been tested through the courts (it does however feature regularly in 'The Archers' on Radio 4)- but any court case would not return your dog to you so it is probably not worth the risk.
Unfortunately, it is the minority that give everyone else a bad name. And there are (like it or not) irresponsible dog owners out there who will just let their dogs run free with no regard to how they affect the countryside or other users of the countryside - see Dogged on Winter Hill for an example.
In any event we could not possibly recommend that a dog may be taken off the leash on any of our walks - because we have no way of ever knowing whether it is safe to do so or not.
Sorry this isn't much help.
A. You can't say whether dogs can be off lead or not but it is possible to give useful information about how a walk might work with dogs. [A book] walk guide series manages.
It's helpful simply to know whether you are going to pass through active sheep or dairy farms, or through arable or orchard, whether open commons are heavily grazed etc.
No sensible person would expect field by field land usage.
Lynne Edwards, New Quay
A. The problem with websites and books providing this kind of detailed information is that it can soon become out-of-date - and wrong or misleading information can lead to far worse situations than no information at all.
Why not just go prepared for all types of countryside and keep your dog under close control at all times?
A. I have been in the same quandry since we had a br rwqp staff/american staff cross. Apart ftom feeling walkers think me a thug i am aware that whilst a chihuahua may not be an obvious sheep threat i can understand why my dog would so i am hyper paranoid about farm land and rightly so, we all have a living to make. It would be superb that walks that are never going to be a problem for dogs could surely be identified by consenting land owners. Eg i am open to be corrected but the forestry comission would have long stretches of un farmed and defined land areas in some places,etc etc.
Kieron Dunning, Swansea