Dog owners must ‘roam responsibly’

Is your pooch being allowed too much freedom?
Is your pooch being allowed too much freedom?

Vets are reminding pet owners to roam responsibly when they are out enjoying the beautiful Scottish countryside and parks with their dogs this summer.

As part of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, which was introduced in 2003, the public are allowed access to most of the land and inland water in Scotland.

But there is concern that pets are being allowed too much freedom, with some being accused of chasing livestock and others being injured on rough terrain.

Adam Charleston, veterinary surgeon and owner at Vets4Pets Livingston, said: “Scotland has some of the best public access rights in the world, and the right to roam legislation allows us to make the most of our country’s stunning landscape.

“But it’s important that owners, and their dogs, act responsibly to avoid serious incidents.

“Across the 22 Vets4Pets practices in Scotland we’ve seen cases of dogs being hurt after falling down a hillside, some coming back covered in ticks and heard concerns from farmers about worried livestock.

“We’ve also heard cases of dogs being lost and owners ending up injured after trying to find them.

“On footpaths and trails, the biggest issue is dog faeces; responsible dog owners will keep their dogs under control and clean up after them.”

To help dog owners act responsibly, Vets4Pets’ 22 practices in Scotland have produced a helpful ‘right to roam’ guide.

“Exploring the environment and walking on open countryside away from the paths can be particularly enjoyable for the nation’s dogs,” added Adam.

“If your dog is prone to running out of sight, it’s always a good idea to keep them on a lead or under close control, so they don’t run away and potentially get lost.

“Many birds nest on the ground in the mountains, moorlands and forests around Scotland.

“If owners are concerned their dog is likely to disturb or attack the birds, then it is best to avoid these areas or keep your dog on a lead and be careful of where you are stepping.

“It’s also important that owners never let their dogs worry or attack any livestock when they are out walking.

“Fields with calves and lambs in should be avoided where possible, as poorly controlled dogs can be harmful to farm animals.

“Cattle can sometimes react aggressively towards dogs if they feel threatened, so if they do begin to move towards you, keep calm and take the shortest, safest route out of their way.

“As long as owners make sure to respect the right to roam and adhere to these guidelines, then the great Scottish outdoors can remain a great place for open-air recreation and fun activities for families and their pets to enjoy together.”