Know your country code

master.ScotHeritageTaking your dog on walks and adventures in the countryside is a great way for you both to get physically active and bond together, but for those walking in the countryside this summer, there are some good practice rules that help all dog owners to respect, protect and enjoy the countryside.

Take note of signs

When you’re out walking in the countryside, there are local signs that are there to inform people and act as a guide and special dog rules can apply in particular situations. There can be restrictions on certain areas, bylaws and control orders, which must be followed. This is for the safety of you, your pet, farm animals and wildlife. The access rights to open countryside and registered common land, also known as open access land require dogs to be kept on a short lead between the 1st of March and the 31st of July. This is to protect nesting birds and farm animals.

When to use a lead

You don’t have to put your dog on a lead on public footpaths, as long as your dog remains under effective control. You should always know where your dog is and be aware of what it is doing. You should never leave your pet unsupervised and if you’re not convinced of your dog’s obedience it’s good practice to keep him on his lead.

Animals and your dog

You should always prevent your dog from disturbing farm animals and wildlife – it’s essential to remember this, as a farmer can shoot a dog which causes distress to farm animals, which would be a devastating end to a country walk. The only situation that allows a dog to be off the lead around farm animals is if you are being attacked by one – it is safer to let the dog run free then to try and protect him.

Prepare well

Before you go out for your walk, you need to be prepared. Check local routes and get the latest information so you know you’ll be walking in a dog-friendly area with no restrictions. Remember to take drinking water for your pet and anything else they need and don’t forget a doggy bag and don’t forget to bag it and bin it. Dog mess is unpleasant and can cause infections. Also ensure that your dog is up to date with worming treatments, this helps to protect other dogs, animals and people.

Being well prepared and aware of the different requirements when walking your dog in the country will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable walk.