Everyone loves a walk around the Great British Countryside with their dog(s), however it is important that we keep in mind any other animals we may encounter on our travels, especially with lambing season just around the corner.
Before You Go
The most important thing is to try to make sure your dog is used to livestock from a young age. Gradually introducing them from a young age and rewarding calm behaviour usually works best, or you could ask a local farmer to help introduce your dog to livestock.
Plan your routes you will be walking prior to going and try to avoid any areas that you know have livestock surrounding if your dog has trouble with them.
Take tasty treats with you to keep your dogs focus and keep them distracted.
Practice recall as often as you can, gradually adding in distractions so that you know your dog will come to you every time you want him to.
Remember dogs that are ordinarily calm at home or on an urban walk may completely change in a new environment they aren't used to, such as in the countryside where their natural instinct can kick in and make them forget their training.
On A Walk
If a cow approaches you, calmly walk away. They are inquisitive animals and just want to greet you! 🐮
If you and your dog get chased, let go of the dogs lead as they will see the dog as a threat and chase them rather than you, and dogs can easily out run them.
Keep your dog under control at all times - this will prevent incidents and is a legal requirement.
When you see animals, keep your dog on a short lead as it will give you peace of mind they wont chase anything.
Don't pass between/separate adults from their young as they may act aggressively to protect their young.
Being A Responsible Dog Owner
It is a criminal offence to allow your dog to ‘worry’ livestock, which means chasing or attacking. Your dog does not have to physically harm an animal for you to be on the wrong side of the law and farmers are allowed to shoot dogs that worry their animals as a last resort.
Anyone walking your dog is responsible for them, so you should always ensure you know all the circumstances. Discovering a wounded or dead animal is very distressing for the farmer, and injuries and fatalities or even just worrying has a huge impact on rural livelihoods.
Bag AND bin your dogs poo when they do their business in the countryside. If you leave poo in a field where livestock are it can cause diseases spread amongst the animals. The smell can also cause mothering animals to stop caring for their young as the smell makes them think the young isn't theirs. Bagged poo can also cause harm as the animal could eat all of it and get a blockage with the bag inside them, which could cause death.
How Worrying Harms Livestock
Sheep, cows, pigs, goats, chickens and other animals can be easily worried by lots of things that could be a threat to them or they are scared of, which can cause a huge impact in theirs and the farmers life.
Fleeing from danger, causing injuries or farmers losing some of their livestock.
Miscarry their unborn.
Cause mis-mothering issues, if the young is separated it could fail to find its mother and become staving and cold.