As we enjoy sunny days and long, light, evenings, dog owners are being encouraged to follow a new dog walking code.
The new guide, facilitated by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) with input from a wide range of partners across the UK, gives practical advice for dog owners on how to make the most of their walks.
The Dog Walking Code – the first time such a document has been produced - will be available on-line, at a variety of visitor information sites in Wales and at the Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wells this week.
Rhian Jardine, Head of Sustainable Communities for NRW, added: “Dogs love to get out and play - half of all the visits people make to the outdoors in the UK are with dogs.
“This helps people get out and about so their dog is helping to keep people healthy and to enjoy the local area. And evidence shows that people are happier if they spend some leisure time outdoors in a pleasant environment.
“This simple, ten-point guide aims to influence how owners manage their dogs, showing respect and sensitivity towards the places they visit and to others who share the space with them.”
NRW has developed this general advice for dog walkers in partnership with a range of other organisations, each representing specific sectors.
Natural England, Kennel Club, Forestry Commission, National Farmers’ Union, NFU Cymru, Ramblers, Ramblers Cymru, National Trust, Country Land and Business Association, Hampshire County Council, The British Horse Society and the British Mountaineering Council have all helped draft the Code.
This cross-sector partnership has helped produce guidance that is both fair and accessible to dog owners.
Stephen Jenkinson, Kennel Club Access Advisor, said: "Visitors with dogs make a substantial contribution to the economy and experience stunning landscapes in return.
“We are so pleased Natural Resources Wales and partners recognise the many social and health benefits of dog walking, alongside the need to reduce any problems for farm animals, wildlife or other visitors.
“Off-lead exercise is vital for happy, healthy dogs, and this code really helps walkers when leads are essential, such as when they are around livestock."
The Dog Walking Code
For safe and happy walks with your dog, and to avoid causing problems for others:
Ensure your dog is under effective control, which means:
You have a short lead with you and use it when needed (eg 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
Prevent your dog from approaching horse riders, cyclists, or other people and their dogs uninvited.
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.
Never let your dog worry or chase wildlife or livestock. Follow advice on local signs to reduce disturbance to plants and animals.
Stay SAFE around farm animals and horses:
Stop, look and listen before entering a field; be aware of any animals present
Always keep your dog on a short lead
Find the safest route around animals, giving them plenty of space and using paths or access land where possible
Exit the area calmly and quickly if threatened, releasing your dog to make it easier for you both to reach safety
Always bag and bin your dog’s poo wherever you are. You can use any public waste bin or your bin at home.
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.
Ensure your details are on your dog’s collar and it is microchipped, so you can be reunited quickly if it is lost.
Keep your dog’s vaccinations and worming up to date. Ask your vet for more information.
Contact your local authority, or look out for signs, to get more information about what to do and where to go in your area.