The Dog Walking Code


For safe and happy walks with your dog, and to avoid causing problems for others:

1. Ensure your dog is under effective control, which means: 

  • you have a short lead with you and use it when needed (e.g. around livestock, near cliff edges or where signage requests it)

  • you do not let your dog off the lead unless you keep it in sight and close enough to come back to you on command

2. Prevent your dog from approaching horse riders, cyclists, or other people and their dogs uninvited.

3. Keep your dog with you on paths or access land and don’t let it stray into crops including fields of grass, fruit and vegetables.

4. Between 1 March and 31 July, you must have your dog on a lead on open access land. This is a legal requirement.

5. Never let your dog worry or chase wildlife or livestock. Follow advice on local signs to reduce disturbance to plants and animals.

6. Stay SAFE around farm animals and horses:

  • S - stop, look and listen before entering a field; be aware of any animals present

  • A - always keep your dog on a short lead

  • F - find the safest route around animals, giving them plenty of space and using paths or access land where possible

  • E - exit the area calmly and quickly if threatened, releasing your dog to make it easier for you both to reach safety

7. Always bag and bin your dog’s poo wherever you are. You can use any public waste bin or your bin at home.

8. Never leave bags of dog poo lying around, even if you intend to pick them up later. Containers and deodorised bags can make them easier to carry.

9. Ensure your details are on your dog’s collar and it is microchipped, so you can be reunited quickly if it is lost.

10. Keep your dog’s vaccinations and worming up to date. Ask your vet for more information.

11. Contact your local authority, or look out for signs, to get more information about what to do and where to go in your area.

This is general advice for dog walkers developed with input from:

  • Natural England
  • Natural Resources Wales
  • Kennel Club
  • Forestry Commission
  • National Farmers’ Union
  • NFU Cymru
  • Ramblers
  • Ramblers Cymru
  • National Trust
  • Country Land and Business Association
  • Hampshire County Council
  • British Horse Society
  • British Mountaineering Council

To report an environmental incident, call us on 0300 065 3000 (24 hours)

Explore more

Last updated