The Countryside Code

To read the full Countryside Code see:

The pandemic brought many people a reminder of the joy of the great outdoors, and a massive increase in dog ownership, an estimated 2.5 million new dogs now bought, bringing the UK dog population to an estimated 12.5 million who not only need daily dog walks but visit countryside locations with their owners on holiday. With this came increasing reports of incidents of interactions between dogs and farm animals, so dog owners are asked to familiarise themselves with the Countryside Code.

The Code doesn’t just apply to farmland but country parks, coastal areas, scientific areas, areas of outstanding beauty, moorlands, mountainous regions, all areas open to the public. Whilst many people are aware that dogs can scare farm animals into a state of shock, usually out of excitement and ignorance, they are not aware that dogs can and regularly are trampled to death by startled cattle and deer.

It’s essential dogs are always kept in sight and good at responding to your commands in new environments.

The Code details:

  • Always keep your dog on a lead or in sight
  • Be confident your dog will return on command
  • Make sure your dog does not stray from the path or area where you have right of access
  • Keep your dog under effective control to make sure it stays away from wildlife, farm animals, horses and other people unless invited.

Always check local signs as there are situations when you must keep your dog on a lead for all or part of the year. Local areas may also ban dogs completely, except for assistance dogs. Signs will tell you about these local restrictions.

It is good practice wherever you are to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals.

On Open Access land and at the coast, you must put your dog on a lead around farm animals. Between 1st March and 31st July, you must have your dog on a lead on Open Access land, even if there are no farm animals on the land. These are legal requirements.

A farmer can shoot a dog that is attacking or chasing farm animals. They may not be liable to compensate the dog’s owner.

To read the full Countryside Code see: