Your dog and you in the Countryside





More and more commonly I am being bombarded with images and newspaper stories about livestock attacks by out of control dogs. Call this a rant if you will, but I think that is unacceptable.
Dogs need daily exercise, so it is great that people are taking their dogs out and about for adventures...however...dogs have natural prey instincts and enjoy chasing things. This includes sheep, cattle, deer, hares, birds and basically anything else that moves. I'm fairly sure that  maybe 90% of dogs these days wouldn't have the foggiest idea about what to do if they actually caught up to these animals that they're chasing. To most it is just a game. But this doesn't change anything.
A lot of people don't know that sheep can have heart attacks VERY easily. Being chased round and round a field by a dog, or several dogs is enough to kill a sheep through stress. More importantly, at this time of year ewes out in the field are likely to be pregnant and can very easily abort their lambs if being chased and stressed out. This is not okay. Of course there's the animal welfare issue, but let's remember that these animals are some farmer's income. They're his wages. They put a roof over his family's heads. Is it right that some people think it's okay to allow their dog to chase sheep? No it is categorically not.
Aside from all this, a farmer is perfectly entitled and within the law to shoot a dog that is found worrying his livestock. I know I wouldn't be able to live with myself if Bosun got shot because I didn't have him on a lead. It's just not worth the risk people.
Now I grew up in the countryside and all of this is second nature to me. I know however that there are some people out there who want to walk their dog responsibly in the countryside but simply do not know how. So I have put together a few little tips to help everybody and their four legged friends have a happy, safe and legal experience in the countryside.


  • Keep dogs on a short, fixed lead around livestock. No dog's recall is 100% all of the time so the safest thing for you, the dog and the livestock is to have him on a lead.
  • There is only one exception to this rule, and that is if cattle begin to chase you. If you find yourself being chased by a herd of cattle, then the safest thing you can do is to let your dog off the lead quickly and get yourself to safety. Your dog can outrun the cattle, you can't!
  • Never walk your dog between a cow and her calf. They are extremely protective and you could endanger yourself. Walk around the outside of large herds of cattle.
  • Pay attention to signs. Some permissive footpaths might be closed during lambing season or spraying works for safety reasons. Take notice of signs because they could save your life.
  • Clean up after your dog! Dog mess spoils the countryside for everybody and can spread disease to farm animals. If your dog goes to the toilet on the path, clean up. Leave nothing but footprints!

I found this helpful little Q and A about dogs and their training around livestock.
Read Adam Quinney's story about vicious attacks by dogs on his sheep on his farm.

I hope you find this useful. Bosun is on the lead permanently at the moment! He is nearly eight months old and at that adolescent stage where he doesn't listen to a single thing I say. So until further notice, I am not giving him the opportunity to wonder off!

Do you have any stories about livestock and dogs?



1 comment

  1. that is awful about the sheep having heart attacks!!! I would be so worried about scaring sheep myself now when walking nearby them!x

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