What about the dog . . . ?
by Louise Burton
I would just like to say that what bugs me is how dog unfriendly UK footpaths are. Lots of them are totally wired up so that dogs cannot get through at all.
The vast majority of people who walk in the countryside, with or without dogs are by nature decent, responsible people. I think they can be trusted to get there dogs through openings without letting out a whole flock sheep.
The best kind of openings for dogs are the lift up type that automatically drop down into place again once the dogs have gone through, although they need to be big enough for all types pf dogs, not just terriers.
This country is becoming very anti-dog and anti-everything countryside, a wishy washy nanny state, where you need permission to blow your nose.
Why not let people roam about in the countryside?
Why not let dogs have a good run around off the lead?
As I have said the type of people that want to do this aren't, exactly lager louts. Most people who go walking have dogs, don't councils realise this basic fact?
My other grievance is with farmers and other land owners, who take it upon themselves to take down footpath signs and plough up footpaths. Some even completely bar the way through. How dare they!
They should be prosecuted for doing so, they have no right whatsoever to do such things. They have not got the exclusive right to enjoy the countryside, it is everyone's right to get away from it all, to get a bit of peace and solitude.
Local councils are also at fault. Footpaths are no where near clearly enough marked out. How often do you try to follow a footpath and before long have no idea in which direction to go in to continue. You end up wandering about all over the place trying to find your way, then probably get accused of trespassing!
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 . . .
NB. You may find the pdf booklet: You and your dog in the countryside produced by Natural England useful.
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