Walking Your Dog Safely in the Countryside
Looking to enjoy the beautiful Kent countryside with your furry companion? Take a moment to relax, breathe in the fresh air, and get some exercise. To ensure a safe and stress-free experience for your dog and the farm animals, we’re here to share some best practices for responsible dog ownership. Let’s enjoy the stunning landscapes of Kent whilst avoiding unintentional distress sheep and cattle.
Taking your dog for a walk in the countryside, parks, or on the coast is a fantastic way to keep them active. However, it’s important to be considerate of other users and wildlife too.
Here are some guidelines to ensure a enjoyable outing for everyone:
Remember, our dogs may be friendly, but farm animals sometimes can get spooked. To ensure everyone’s safety, it’s best to keep your dog on a lead and under close control around livestock. Farm animals can be protective, especially during certain times of the year. If you or your dog feel threatened, release your dog so you can both find safety separately.
To find out more on the Countryside Code, checking out our page for more details.
Stay safe around cattle
Here are some quick tips from the NFU to help you stay vigilant while in the countryside:
When entering a field, be aware that the whole area may not be visible. Cows are curious creatures, so if they start following you, stay calm, walk quickly, and quietly go around them. Never come between cows and their calves – maintain your distance and rejoin the path safely. If you’re walking with your dog, keep them on a short lead around cows and sheep. In case of a cattle threat, release your dog to ensure both of your safety. If animals are protecting their territory or young and you feel threatened, don’t panic or run. Move to the edge of the field, if possible, and find another way around.
If the farmer has provided an alternative route to accommodate grazing livestock, please use it to help keep everyone safe.
Stay on designated paths or areas where you have access rights to enjoy the beauty of nature without causing any harm.
Pay attention to local signs that might ask you to leash your furry friend, especially during specific times. Remember, in some areas, dogs might not be permitted at all, apart from assistance dogs.
Public Rights of Way
Remember, it’s always a good idea to keep your dog on a lead around livestock, regardless of where you are.
However, you might want to bear in mind stiles, there’s no obligation for these to be built or maintained with access for a dog underneath. Just something to bear in mind when planning your route.
Remember! Bridleways are used by horses which gives us all the added benefit that there will be no stiles along these paths.
Lastly, don’t forget to clean up after your dog. Bag their poo and dispose of it in any public waste bin or take it home with you. This is important as it can prevent the spread of illness to people, livestock, and wildlife.
Countryside Access Land
Since 2000 there has been a right to walk across most open spaces that can comprise of downland, heathland, moorland and registered common land. You will be made aware you are entering Access Land by means of a sign placed at the points of entry. Access Land Legislation requires that dogs are kept on a lead shorter than 2 metres from the 1st March to 31st July. This is to protect ground nesting birds. Folkestone Downs has spectacular views and is linked to two important wildlife reserves.
You may have access to areas of land not normally accessible to other members of the public. Landowners may grant this access as a gesture of goodwill or as part of a formal stewardship scheme for which they receive money.
Country Parks and Nature Reserves
Please check individual dog walking guidance at the country park or nature reserve you are planning on visiting. For Kent Country Parks, advice on bringing your dog can be found on the individual park pages. Shorne Woods Country Park is in the pretty Kent Downs AONB – bring your dog and explore one of several way marked trails then have some wood fired pizza from their pizza kitchen afterwards.
Coastal and Beach Walks
Most public beaches are open all day every day for dogs during 1st October to 30th April. In summer some sections of the beaches are more restricted. Check the Byelaws on District Authority websites. Coastal path walks are open all year to dogs with the exception of some promenades where dogs must be placed on a lead or are not permitted in the summer.
Watch this video from the National Farmer’s Union, in collaboration with Graeme Hall from the TV show The Dogfather. Find out how to stay safe whilst walking through cattle.
Join the National Farmer’s Union in promoting responsible dog ownership. They have put together a video to help all dog owners relish the stunning landscapes of the UK, all while ensuring the safety to sheep and cattle.
Dog Friendly Walks
Are you searching for new places to take your furry friend on walks? Explore our top recommendations for dog-friendly locations in Kent! Many of these walks have cafes and pubs along the route, who will welcome your beloved companions.
If you would like to read more information and advice on how to be a responsible dog owner. Read more over on the NFU website.