Good dog walks can be tricky to find, unless you know the local area well. Often the best places are off the beaten track, and you need someone to tell you. So if you are new to an area, ask around. But always do a ‘test walk’ first (on your own or with dogs on leads) to ensure it’s safe for your pooch, which may be different for someone else’s. Different dogs, different escape routes! If you can’t walk your dog, find local dog walkers or volunteer dog walkers.
Read How to Walk a Dog. This lovely book is by Mike White, who began walking his rescue dog at dog parks 10 years ago, and since has become a part of a remarkable community of people and pets. A story written with wit and wisdom, a story for anyone who has ever loved a dog.
- Walkiees has reader-submitted dog walks, with over 1000 listed and you can also list.
- Two Dogs and an Awning has 700 dog-walking posts
- Countryside Dog Walks & Countryside Books publish nice guide books, some are a few years old, so check for updates.
- Driving with Dogs lists walks near motorway junctions
Safe Dog Walking
- Positive dog training keeps dogs safe If you see a dog fight, use the ‘wheelbarrow method’ to each grab back legs of each dog to wheel away from each other in a circle, then separate to calm them down.
- Check tide times (and beach bans) to avoid wasted journeys. Avoid tidal causeways or sinking mud (Weston-super-Mare, Morecambe, Holy Island). If used, ensure dog lifejackets are fitted correctly and comfortable.
- Throwing sticks can cause mouth injuries. Ensure dogs are quality brands, the right size for a dog’s mouth.
- In warm weather, walk early morning or evenings. If pavement is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for a dog’s paws. Some companies offer evaporation jackets that can keep dogs cool (some dogs find them uncomfortable). In cold weather, wash paws after walks, to remove rock salt (which can cause burns indoors at higher temperatures).
- Wear glo-jackets/armbands for you and dogs in poor light or visibility. Avoid iPods (to hear traffic), tell people where you are going, carry a phone and personal alarm.
- Pick up poop. Some councils keep bags on rolls, a good idea if you forget. You can buy ‘dog rucksacks’ with linings, to keep poo bags with you (hands-free), until you find a bin.
- If you see an unfamiliar dog heading to you, crouch diagonally and let it come to you. If a dog goes for you, put something solid between you (don’t stare, scream or yell). Just slowly walk backwards or sideways.
- Avoid walking (especially small) dogs near hovering birds of prey, in open areas.
Follow the Countryside Code
- Keep dogs on leads or in sight, at all times.
- Trained dogs come back on recall.
- Check notices, for banned areas.
- Most ‘open access’ land require dogs on short leads between 1 March and 31 July, to protect ground nesting birds (and all-year near farm animals).
- Check coastal restrictions before travel (to avoid wasted journeys, like beach bans).
- Keep dogs on short leads, near horses.
- Dogs near herds of cattle could be trampled (even without calves). Farmers are allowed to shoot dogs that worry livestock. If cattle chase dogs, Blue Cross say dogs are usually safer let off the lead, as they can (usually) run faster.
- The Ramblers Association has info on safe dog walking near livestock. Close gates behind you and find an alternative path, if a cow is obstructing your way.