Corona: Advice for dog owners

This page includes both points of guidance and points of law, drawing from the latest advice of Government, NHS, and our local police and local authorities. Their advice is, understandably, constantly evolving so do follow the links in blue text for the latest information. You can also find links to the latest news and guidance on Dorset Dogs Facebook. Page last updated 25 July.

Alongside being able to exercise as many times as we wish and being able to drive to an outdoor place to do so we may:

‘…..spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines.’ For further details of the latest guidance just follow the ‘Government Coronovirus FAQs’ link below.

So we may walk our dogs more often and go to more places to do so, bearing in mind that we are advised to avoid crowds and that it may be a while before all the places we love to walk with our dogs are able to open, so the managers can put in place measures to open safely.

Defra guidance video 8 July: https://www.facebook.com/DefraGovUK/videos/643047469750796/

With lots of us able to enjoy more exercise with our dogs it’s even more important to follow the doggy do code to ensure that we are welcome and can enjoy our walks knowing that we are not harming the places we visit nor the wild or farm animals or other people there.

Government coronavirus FAQS: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do

Government guidance on staying safe outside your home: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-outside-your-home/staying-safe-outside-your-home

Government advice about access to greenspaces: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-guidance-on-access-to-green-spaces

Government guidance on spending time outdoors (news article 13 May): https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-guidance-on-spending-time-outdoors

Dorset Council update: https://news.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/2020/05/21/people-are-asked-to-think-twice-about-visiting-dorset-over-the-bank-holiday-weekend/

BCP Council news update about car parks and toilets at seafront and leisure locations for local people: https://www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/News/News-Articles/car-parks-and-toilets-at-seafront-and-leisure-locations-to-reopen-for-locals.aspx further information for people living outside Dorset: https://www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/News/News-Articles/Think-twice-before-travelling-this-weekend.aspx

Overview: https://www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/News/News-Features/COVID19/Changes-to-Services/Services/Dog-walks.aspx

Update about restrictions for dogs on beaches: earlier in lockdown some restrictions on dogs walking on beaches were not being enforced, to help with social distancing and safe exercise. Beach restrictions for those beaches where restrictions are normally in place across Dorset (both Dorset Council and BCP Council areas) are now being enforced. https://news.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/2020/05/15/restrictions-for-dogs-on-beaches-to-be-enforced/

Guidance from Dorset police: https://www.dorset.police.uk/covid-19-coronavirus/covid-19-faqs will help to clarify their approach to Government guidelines.

Local Council links

Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Council: https://www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/News/News-Features/COVID19/Corona-Virus-Covid-19-news-releases-and-updates.aspx

Dorset Council: https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/home.aspx
– taking daily exercise in Dorset: https://news.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/2020/04/22/taking-your-daily-exercise-in-dorset/
– public rights of way during lockdown: https://news.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/2020/03/31/public-rights-of-way-and-covid-19/

During this time of Coronovirus restrictions we need to be aware of the special guidelines we need to follow, at other times we still need to follow the doggy do code keep our dogs under effective control so that we can all happily enjoy exercise and trips out and about.

What doeskeep dogs under effective control’ actually mean?

When you take your dog into the outdoors, always ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control. This means that you:

·       keep your dog on a lead, or

·       keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it’s doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command

·       ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you have a right of access

Special dog rules may apply in particular situations, so always look out for local signs – for example:

·       dogs may be banned from certain areas that people use, or there may be restrictions, byelaws or control orders limiting where they can go

·       the access rights that normally apply to open country and registered common land (known as ‘open access’ land) require dogs to be kept on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July, to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round near farm animals

·       at the coast, there may also be some local restrictions to require dogs to be kept on a short lead during the bird breeding season, and to prevent disturbance to flocks of resting and feeding birds during other times of year

It’s always good practice (and a legal requirement on ‘open access’ land) to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and for the welfare of the animals. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog’s owner.

However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead – don’t risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you.

Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and it can cause infections, so always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly – ‘bag it and bin it’. Make sure your dog is wormed regularly to protect it, other animals and people.

Many of the points about keeping dogs under effective control are summed up in the ‘doggy do code‘.

Further Links:

10 May: PM’s address to the nation on 10 May: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-address-to-the-nation-on-coronavirus-10-may-2020

11 May: Guidance document published afternoon of 11 May: Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy

For health advice of all sorts about Coronavirus: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/

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