Good dog guide

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Enjoying the Thames Basin Heaths with your dog…

Walkers and their dogs are always welcome on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. To ensure that everyone has a great time, dogs are safe and wildlife is protected, we’d like to thank dog walkers for following the ‘Good dog guide’.

By following a few simple guidelines, you can enjoy your visit and help secure the future of your local heathland. Rare heathland birds nest on the ground or in vegetation, 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.

Dog off lead very close to a ground-nesting bird


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 September.

Image of a girl walking her dog on a path and throwing a ball down the path



…keep their dog 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.

Image of a dog walker disposing of a bag in a dog poo bin


…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.

Image of dog walkers with their dog on a lead near ground-nesting bird



…prevent their dog from chasing 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.

Image of dog walker reading an information board



…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.



Image of dog focussed on his owner


…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.


Image of a dog walker disposing of a bag in a dog poo bin


…use ‘Greenspace on your doorstep’

Check out our interactive map of over 80 dog-friendly places to explore! Try your local ‘Greenspace on your doorstep’ walks to help take the pressure off the heaths.


Heathland Hounds logoThank you for following our ‘Good dog guide’

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