Preparing your dog
Walking holidays can make demands of dogs as well as of humans! The fitter your dog is and the more familiar he or she is with the countryside (stiles, sheep, rocky paths) the easier your holiday will be.
In the weeks leading up to your holiday try walking your dog along some routes of similar distance, height gain and duration to those you'll be tackling on your holiday.
Of course, take care to build your dog up gently to longer walks if he or she is not used to them. It's possible to over-exercise very young dogs. Be alert to your dog becoming too tired, shown by unusally heavy panting or lagging behind.
Please keep your dog on a lead, a sign on a barn near Zermatt
Walking your dog responsibly in the countryside
The usual responsibilities of walking a dog, such as cleaning up after it, apply to the mountains and coast as much as any dog walking area and will be well known by dog owners. Some extra considerations apply to the great outdoors.
Wildlife and lambing time
Spring lambs really do leap up and down in a very cute fashion, so it's a season not to be missed, but take care! Avoid letting your dog disturb wildlife or farm animals, especially sheep, lambs and ground-nesting birds. Dogs can frighten birds away from their nests, leaving eggs and chicks unprotected.
At lambing time take great care to prevent your dog chasing sheep; lambs can die even just from being chased, while the parents might attack your dog. The lambing season in early Spring is critical to farmers' finances for the year ahead. You might consider it best to avoid walking your dog near any sheep in this period, roughly mid-March to mid-May but possibly starting as early as February, to avoid any difficulty.
If chased by farm animals
If you and your dog are chased by a cow it's best to let your dog off the lead. Then the dog will hopefully distract the cow from you but also outrun it, while you can get to safety. This way the cow will be less likely to harm you than if you try to protect your dog.
On the lead?
You might be able to let your dog walk off its lead where there is no livestock near, but if it can't be recalled reliably then do use your lead. In the UK, farmers are allowed to shoot dogs that are worrying their animals.
In the UK the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) opened up access to many areas of rough, open areas such as hills, moorland and heathland. These new areas are known as 'access land' in England. Your dog can enjoy such areas off its lead, except during the period from 1 March to 31 July and at all times when near livestock, when it must be kept on a lead no longer than 2 metres. There might be additional local restrictions.
Poppy takes to Coniston Water
Self-guided walking holidays in the UK
UK Exploratory once met a dog and two walkers near St Bees. This particularly fit dog had carried all its own supplies for 14 days - an unusual feat!
Let us organise your next walking holiday for you and your dog. We book your accommodation and send you a comprehensive info pack containing our own routecards (highly praised by past clients), genuine Ordnance Survey or Harvey maps, and all the other logistical notes you need. You are then free to enjoy the walks at a pace suited to you. As well as our standard itineraries we are always delighted to quote for bespoke holidays - contact us for more information. Happy walking!
Self-guided walking holidays in the UK - see all our trips