We are very lucky in Suffolk we are surrounded by beautiful fields, endless foot paths and access to amazing beaches. However as dog owners it is important to know where we can walk and when it is appropriate to let your dog off a lead.
Firstly we always advise that you have good recall with your pup whether this is by voice or by whistle. Ensuring your dog comes straight back to you can prevent unwanted accidents including running into roads or interacting with other dogs when this may want to be avoided.
Once you have decided on a location for a dog walk, of course as per the current governments guidelines associated with COVID-19. The next step is to ensure you are aware where the footpaths go if it is a walk around farmers fields.
There are ordance survey (OS) maps which highlight footpaths, it is important to stay on these footpaths and not let your dog stray across fields. At certain time of the year crops which have been planted can be very delicate and it is important to remember that field is someones’ livelihood, so out of respect to stay on the marked footpaths. Secondly farmers at this time of year are very busy with heavy machinery in fields so you don’t want your dog to get too close to these, especially if certain fertilisers or chemicals are being sprayed across fields. The chemicals used on farms have gone through safety testing in terms of any contact with humans or animals but it is always advisable to stay away from any fields that are being sprayed or have recently been sprayed.
If your walk takes you through fields with livestock remember to keep your dog on a lead no matter how good their recall is. During the spring time sheep can be in lamb and can be very sensitive to aborting them if they are suddenly scared i.e. by loose dogs. The other reason is that larger livestock i.e. cattle or horses can kick out if frightened, we have seen many cases of dogs being kicked or stood on by horses.
Here is a useful link chatting about keeping your dog safe
The countryside code also gives handy tips for staying safe when walking your dog.
Finally we always encourage our owners to ensure they take plenty of poo bags with them on their walks, ensure to pick up your dogs poo and take the bag with you. Having treated cattle in the past for ingestion of plastic bags it is always important to dispose of the bag in a bin, even when it states it is biodegradable these bags can take between 10-1000 years to breakdown even in land fill sites..
If you find your dog becomes unwell on a dog walk or injured dong hesitate to call your nearest Swaynes’ branch and we can see how we can help.