Don't forget the dog!
by Rob Meadows
When wandering off into the mountains, top of my things to take list is not map, compass or boots, it is my faithful walking companion Elle, my Cairn Terrier.
When the going start to get tough, and the old legs start to burn, Elle will look down at me (She is always at the front) and spur me on to the top.
I don't think walking would be such a joy for me, if it wasn't for this little dog.
So to all the people who think dogs should be permanently on leads, spare a thought for the people who take great pleasure in taking their favourite walking partner (and sometimes only walking partner) into wild open spaces that they can roam lead free, without fear of being run over.
Dog owners are required to keep dogs under effective control at all times. For the avoidance on doubt, The Countryside Code on the Natural England website is quite explicit about what is defined by the phrase 'Keep dogs under effective control'.
Keep dogs under effective control
When you take your dog into the outdoors, always ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control. This means that you:
- keep your dog on a lead, or
- keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it's doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command
- ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you have a right of access
Special dog rules may apply in particular situations, so always look out for local signs - for example:
- Dogs may be banned from certain areas that people use, or there may be restrictions, byelaws or control orders limiting where they can go.
- The access rights that normally apply to open country and registered common land (known as 'Open Access' land) require dogs to be kept on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July, to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round near farm animals.
- At the coast, there may also be some local restrictions to require dogs to be kept on a short lead during the bird breeding season, and to prevent disturbance to flocks of resting and feeding birds during other times of year.
It's always good practice (and a legal requirement on 'Open Access' land) to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and for the welfare of the animals. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog's owner.
However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead - don't risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you.
Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and it can cause infections, so always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly - 'bag it and bin it'. Make sure your dog is wormed regularly to protect it, other animals and people.
Hope this helps . . .
“Thanks - but I would like to be able to go into wild open spaces that they can roam lead free, without fear of being run over by your bloody dog. Keep it on a lead!”
Chris Donaldson, Birmingham
NB. You may find the pdf booklet: You and your dog in the countryside produced by Natural England useful.
The views expressed by contributors are not necessarily those held by go4awalk.com.