Good dog guide
A code for walking on the Thames Basin Heaths
By following a few simple guidelines, you can enjoy your visit, look after wildlife and help secure the future of your local heathland. Rare heathland birds nest on the ground, sometimes very close to paths. Dogs can disturb birds, flushing them from the nest, leaving eggs or chicks exposed and vulnerable to chilling or attack by predators. Disturbance may also stop birds feeding or taking food to the chicks. It may also cause them to abandon the nest.
Good dog owners…keep to main paths
Help avoid disturbance by simply keeping to the main paths and keeping your dog out of the vegetation during the breeding season, March to mid-September.
…keep their dogs in sight
If you can see your dog, you know it’s safe and you can see what it’s up to! Some people are frightened of dogs, so ask before letting your dog approach and don’t let it jump up. Some dogs need space, and horse riders and cyclists need extra consideration too.
…always bag and bin
Any bin will do and if there’s no bin, please take it home. Dog mess carries pathogens dangerous to humans, livestock and your dog. If left on the ground, it will enrich the soil leading to the loss of unique heathland flora.
…don’t allow their dog to chase wildlife or livestock
Do train your dog to have good recall, or keep it on a lead or long-line. Train it to be disinterested in wildlife and grazing animals. In the unlikely event that you’re chased by cattle, let your dog off the lead so you can both get away. Always follow the Countryside Code.
…follow requests on signs
Noticeboards are often the best way to find out important information about where you’re walking, including the presence of grazing animals, or sensitive wildlife, and who to report problems to.
…make walks interesting
Adding play or training provides mental stimulation to keep your dog happy, strengthen your bond and keep the focus on you. Always remember to throw balls along the path, not into the vegetation.
…uses ‘Greenspace on your doorstep’
Check out our interactive map of over 70 dog-friendly places to explore! Try your local ‘Greenspace on your doorstep’ walks to help take the pressure off the heaths.
Thank you for following the ‘Good dog guide’