Dogs and Walking Poles?
by Sheri Ahmet, Bridport
Perhaps hiking poles can double up as a form of self defence against aggressive dogs and thoughtless owners?
We went on a guided walk on Dartmoor and giggled and asked the usual question - "Where's your skis then?" at a couple who struggled with their walking poles.
I thought they looked cumbersome and useless until being frightened by an aggressive dog while out walking one day. It growled and grumbled at us and we stood still quivering until the owner caught up with it and said the immortal words "He wont hurt you his barks worst than his bite!!"
A week later on the same walk we met the same dog and owner - and suffered the same indignity with little apology.
Next time we will be armed to the teeth with poles and intend to use them in self defence.
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 . . .
“Perhaps the dogs you met were frightened of your poles?
You will look very aggressive to even a mild dog with a pair of sticks - four legs at the front? and if you are nervous, innately aggressive or anticipating a problem a dog will sense that and growl - doesn't mean it's going to bite you - it's telling you that you are frightening it - just relax and be friendly to the dog.
Generally dogs like humans and get a real thrill from meeting new ones.
My Fell Terrier, Millie, is impossible to stop when she sees new people to meet - in fact she finds humans much easier to deal with than other dogs (and she is a hard working dog) but this is true for most breeds.
Don't be frightened of dogs, welcome them with a smile.”
Peter Burgess, Worthing
NB. You may find the pdf booklet: You and your dog in the countryside produced by Natural England useful.
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