Whether you live in the countryside yourself and are thinking of getting a new dog or puppy, or if you’re visiting the UK’s green and pleasant fields and forests on your holidays with your dog, observing the Countryside Code is very important. It’s a short yet detailed set of guidelines and instructions that can help all of us enjoy the British countryside and it has plenty of advice and guidance for anyone bringing their four-legged friend along with them. In this post, we’re going to tell you what you need to know as a dog owner following the Countryside Code.
Why is there a Countryside Code?
The code exists to help everyone visiting the countryside in the UK to have an enjoyable experience. By following this guide, it means you won’t inadvertently upset other visitors or the locals, and if they’re following it too, they won’t upset you. And while the British are a nation of dog lovers, dogs, through their playful personalities, can cause issues in the countryside if their owners don’t follow the code. Don’t worry – it’s not too complicated and there just a few key things to remember.
The dog-specific section
There is a whole section of the code devoted to dogs and this includes most of what you need to know. The first lesson you need to remember is that you have to keep your dog under control. The government has laid out these three bullet points as a must for all of us:
- always keep your dog on a lead or in sight
- be confident your dog will return on command
- make sure your dog does not stray from the path or area where you have right of access
There are several reasons that you must have control of your dog while out in the countryside, with probably the most important being livestock. A dog may think they’re playing with cows or sheep, but those animals may not see it that way, and this is their home. What’s more, farmers may not see it as playing either and if they believe a dog is worrying their livestock, they might see your dog as a threat. So especially around animals, keep your dog on a lead and under control.
And on another sombre note, if your dog does start to worry livestock, it is incredibly dangerous to try and retrieve your pet from a herd of animals. Government advice tells us not to risk getting hurt protecting our dog and the best thing to do is release your pet (if you have it on the lead) and both run away – you’ll have a much better chance of not getting hurt.
But it’s not just the animals
We all love to get out and enjoy the countryside, and dogs love being out there. All that room to enjoy, new smells to sniff and people to meet. But not everyone using the countryside is a dog lover and having a bouncing Border Collie or a rambunctious Rottweiler bounding over to them may not be their idea of fun. Be mindful of that, and everyone can have a good time.
All responsible dog owners do it anyway, but it’s worth reiterating – when it comes to dog poo, bag it and bin it. It’s just as important in the green forest as it is in a concrete jungle, and it helps everyone to enjoy the space even more.
So keep your dog under control, on the lead, and remember to clean up after it, and you can enjoy the countryside along with everyone else. And if your dog needs a little encouraging to be well behaved, remember to take some tasty treats along on your trip.