There are few pastimes more enjoyable for dog owners than a walk with their dog in the beautiful British countryside. However Dogs Trust would like to remind dog owners to be cautious and keep their dogs under close control to ensure they do not worry livestock or stray onto neighbouring land.
It is an offence for a dog to “worry livestock, ie. (a) chase livestock or (b) attack livestock or (c) not be on a lead or otherwise under close control in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep. By law, farmers are permitted to destroy a dog that injures or worries their animals so prevention is key to ensure both animals remain safe.
Dogs Trust offers advice for dog owners walking in the countryside:
- If you cannot rely on your dog’s obedience, it is advisable to keep your dog on a lead on public paths and away from livestock
- When on access land - (a) a dog must be on a lead at all times near livestock, and (b) between 1 March and 31 July a dog must be on a lead all the time.
- Take extra care during lambing/ calving season (particularly January – April) to minimize the risk of disturbing farm animals
- Make sure your home and garden is secure at all times when your dog is unsupervised so that he does not stray and worry neighbourng livestock
- Make sure your dog is well trained and obedient to your commands
- Be careful of situations where you may unintentionally be 'herding' cattle or sheep into a confined space where their only means of escape is to charge towards you
- Leave all gates as you found them.
- If a farm animal chases you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead – the dog is likely to out run you to safety so don’t risk getting hurt by trying to protect it.
- Do not pass between a cow or sheep and it’s young as they may act more aggressively whilst protecting their young.
A FARMER has issued a plea for dog walkers to keep their pets on leads around sheep. John Wood, who runs Merley Hall Farm on the border of Poole and Wimborne, said dog worrying is an issue that has plagued his farm for years. “We have had issues from dogs chasing our sheep and lambs to mauling them resulting in them needing to be put down,” said John.