Good dog walks may be local or somewhere you visit. How to find good dog walks can be tricky, if you are new to an area, or live in an urban area. Read this book to keep your dog safe, which covers toxic plants/foods and has an illustrated first aid guide. Also see where to find good dog walkers and how to become or find a volunteer dog walker.
If you are new to an area, always do a ‘test walk’ (on your own or with dogs on leads) to ensure it’s safe for your pooch. What may be good for someone else may not be for you (some dogs chase cats, others don’t care). Different dogs, different escape routes! Obviously don’t walk dogs off-leash near cliffs, and only a test walk can sometimes see hidden risks, which may not be in dog-walking guidebooks.
Dog Walks App from Countryside Books includes over 400 of the best dog walks in England, with route maps on your mobile handpicked and tested on dogs. There are easy and short walks, or longer ones for young fit dogs, with detailed route info, time to the nearest refreshments and where to park. Try for fee, then unlock the full version for £5.99. Not yet on Android. Other good sites to visit are:
- Walkiees has 1000 reader-submitted walks
- Two Dogs and an Awning has 700 walks
- Countryside Dog Walks & Countryside Books publish nice books
- Driving with Dogs (walks near motorway exits)
Tips for Safe Dog Walks
- 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.
- 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 paws. Some companies offer evaporation jackets that keep dogs cool (some dogs find them uncomfortable).
- Wash paws after walks, to remove rock salt (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. Dog poop can harm other dogs, wildlife, livestock and children. Dicky Bag (Cornwall) is an award-winning mobile bag that’s lightweight, airtight, washable and leakproof, to use until you find a bin, if you’re somewhere remote.
- If a dog is heading to you, crouch diagonally to let it come to you. If a dog goes for you, put something solid between you (don’t stare, scream or yell). Slowly walk backwards or sideways.
- Avoid walking (esp. small) dogs near hovering birds of prey.
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 (all-year near farm animals).
- Check beach bans before you travel.
- Keep dogs on short leads, near horses.
- Dogs near cattle could be trampled (even without calves). Farmers are allowed to legally 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. You’ll have to make that call.
- The Ramblers Association has info on safe dog walking near livestock. Close gates behind you and find alternative paths, if cows are nearby.