Top tips for walking near sheep
The lambing season is already underway and will continue through until May, but it’s not just pregnant ewes and their lambs that can be harmed by dogs. Sheep see all dogs as predators, even the small fluffy ones! Once distressed sheep panic which can cause the rest of the flock to panic which can result in all kinds of woolly chaos ranging from mothers and lambs being separated, injuries caused by escaping and sheep breaking through fences ending up on roads or cliff tops.
But all of this is easy to avoid, follow these simple tips…
1. Be prepared to see sheep, have your lead ready and some treats to hand to reward your dog for good behaviour.
2. Read and follow signs on gates and stiles.
3. Always keep your dog in sight, look ahead and recall your dog to you at regular intervals and when coming towards a gate or stile.
4. If you can see sheep in the distance or suspect they may be nearby, stop and put your dog on the lead.
5. Talk to and interact with your dog as you walk, praise your dog for walking well on the lead and ignoring sheep.
6. Always clear up after your dog on farmland. Dog poo contaminates the grass that the sheep eat and can lead to illness for other dogs, sheep and wildlife.
If you have a puppy or new dog introduce them to livestock in a safe and controlled way. Many farm shops have animal areas where you can safely introduce your dog to some of the animals that you’re likely to come across in the countryside. If your dog is used to meeting these animals they are far less likely to become excited or nervous when they meet them out on a walk.
And finally, choose walks that suit you and your dog, if you know that your dog is difficult to control around sheep consider finding a different place to walk, or use the lead to keep your dog and the sheep safe from harm.