About Dorset Dogs

Dorset Dogs champions positive management for people with dogs in town, coast and countryside and promotes responsible dog ownership.

Established in 2009, Dorset Dogs, a nationally recognised, first of its kind, funded initiative has worked for over 14 years with dog owners and land managers (including Dorset Council, BCP Council, Forestry England, National Trust, Natural England, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Dorset Wildlife Trust and RSPB). We champion access for dog walkers across Dorset’s coast and countryside and offer advice and feedback; for people who manage land where people walk, on best practice canine access management and for dog owners promoting wildlife friendly and happy, healthy stress free walks.

What we believe

Dogs are wonderful for our physical, mental and emotional well-being and if that goes hand-in-hand with responsible dog ownership there are strong benefits for the value, care and future protection given to our countryside, green spaces and wildlife.

Who are we?

Dorset Dogs was set up by a group of land managers (eg rangers, site managers) who were also dog owners.  We recognised from our own experience that there can be issues to do with dogs out and about on their walks (such as fouling, disturbance to wildlife, grazing animals or other people) but we wanted to find more effective, positive ways to manage those issues and also to recognise that dog owners can bring positive impacts rather than negative ones.

We sought best practice training and advice from experts who are consulted by Government and national organisations. We continue to ensure we stay updated so that we are able to offer advice and feedback on best practice canine access management to people who manage land where people walk and to dog owners.

Who we work with?

We work with all sorts of people, from dog owners and land managers to dog businesses and charities, conservation and countryside organisations.

People walking with dogs are often the main visitors to green spaces and the countryside.  We are ‘eyes & ears’, discouraging anti-social behaviour simply by being there, or reporting fires or other incidents.  Some dog owners also take part in voluntary work at their local site, for example litter-picking, conducting wildlife surveys or carrying out practical work on site.

Dog owners who live in or visit Dorset can become members of Dorset Dogs, by signing up to follow the Doggy Do Code and keeping in touch with local dog and countryside information. There are now well over 2500 Dorset Dogs human members and even more canine ones!

Dorset Dogs - About Us - Land Managers

“Dorset Dogs has gone above and beyond to ensure that both dogs and their owners get the best deal possible in terms of access and protection of their rights. We thank them for their tremendous contribution to making a positive difference to our four-legged friends and hope that their approach will act as a model for others to follow.” Kennel Club Chairmen, 2013

Dorset Dogs National KC Dog Award

Award Winning – National KC Dog Award 2013

Dorset Dogs was awarded the ‘KC Dog Special Recognition Award’ in recognition of our work to promote canine access and responsible dog ownership. The Special Recognition award is an annual award for best positive canine access management. We think it’s important to continue to uphold the gold standard approach. The KC Dog Awards credit the actions taken by politicians, local authorities, public bodies and individuals to develop positive alternatives to restrictions on dogs and promote responsible ownership.

Kennel Club Chairman, Steve Dean, said: “These awards are an opportunity for us to credit the actions taken by local groups to ensure that the UK’s dogs continue to enjoy maximum access to our open spaces.”

Funding and History

Dorset Dogs receives funding from development mitigation to carry out work mainly in south-east Dorset, with additional funding coming in from providing expertise for specific work such as ‘Information Pitstops’, or canine access management guidance.

Dorset Dogs was initially set up with heathland development mitigation funding via the Urban Heaths Partnership, combined with access management funding from Natural England, to help manage both issues and opportunities for people with dogs to enjoy countryside and green spaces.

Dorset Dogs small team is part of the Urban Heaths Partnership core team. Volunteers, the support of many dog and / or countryside colleagues and the goodwill of responsible dog owners are essential to the work we do.