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Walking your dog in National Parks

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The UK’s 15 National Parks are great places to exercise your dog – and we welcome responsible dog-walkers!

From moorland to canal towpaths, bracing coastal walks to mountain peaks and many gentler walks in between, we have a whole range of landscapes for you and your dog to enjoy in our family of 15 national parks.

Of course special places like ours are often home to rare wildlife and sensitive vegetation. They’re also home to working farms and provide grazing land for livestock. We hope you and your dog enjoy exploring all that National Parks have to offer, while following the simple guidelines set out below.

When walking your four legged friends

  • Please keep your dog close by, under control and in sight – and please make sure to clear up after your dog
  • Respect wildlife and livestock – don’t let your dog chase animals or disturb wildlife, particularly during the breeding season (March to July)

When and where you’ll need to use a lead:

On open access land you’ll need to use a short lead, no more than 2-metres long (there’s a different open access code for Scotland, see below):

  • Between March 1–July 31 when rare moorland birds and other ground-nesting birds lay their eggs on the ground
  • Near farm animals – all year round. Sheep are particularly sensitive to dogs and many footpaths cross grazing land
  • If you cannot rely on your dog’s obedience

Tips for trouble-free dog-walking

  • Don’t panic!
  • If livestock chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead – don’t risk getting hurt trying to protect it.
  • Always read the signs.
  • Follow official signs that illustrate the sensitive times and places where dogs are not allowed.

Dog-walking links

The Kennel Club ‘walkies’ guide

The Countryside Code and keeping your dog under control

Your dog and the law(Kennel Club guide)

Dog-walking and outdoor access in Scotland

Dog walking in the New Forest sharing space with free roaming ponies and cattle

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