The Winter Countryside Code

PET CHECK BLOG Lady walking her dog

\\\ The Countryside Code Revised

Wintertime Walking In The Country Side

How Does It Affect Your Dog?

The Countryside Code was refreshed being revised during 2021 after seventy years when it was first released with the aim to help those not so familiar with the countryside to appreciate ‘the unwritten rules’ when walking near to farm land, coastal areas, parks, rivers, lakes, mountains and hills, coinciding with the new introduction of the National Parks. The first Park opened in the Peak District and where there are now 15 Parks throughout the UK.

The Code has four sections

  1. Respect everyone
  2. Protect the environment
  3. Enjoy the outdoors
  4. Know the signs and symbols of the countryside

and various subsections which are –

  • Farming, livestock and wild animals
  • Travel and parking in the countryside
  • Be nice, say hello, share the space
  • Follow local signs and keep to marked paths
  • Take your litter home – leave no trace of your visit
  • Take care with BBQs and do not light fires
  • Always keep dogs under control and in sight
  • Dog poo – bag it and bin it – any public waste bin will do
  • Check your route and local conditions
  • Check weather, tide and water conditions
  • Plan your adventure – know what to expect and what you can do
  • Rights and permissions
PET CHECK BLOG Winter dog walks

Walking in the countryside is a beautiful breathtaking experience when there’s light dustings of snow, the low sun and a nip in the air

Image Pet Check

Surrey Hills

Walking in the countryside is a beautiful breathtaking experience when there’s light dustings of snow, the low sun and a nip in the air.

The Countryside Code is written for all year round walking and hiking offfering guidance and advice.

Whilst there is less evidence that livestock are in fields during wintertime, dog walkers especially must still continue to take care not to disturb animals whilst out walking.

More major considerations take preference during winter time of the climatic conditions for you and your dog whilst out walking. Whether it’s a quick hour walk or a few hours, take precautions and walk safely.

  • It’s essential to check the weather conditions before leaving home and to ensure someone knows that you and your pet are out walking and your preferred route.
  • Choose the best part of the day to walk generally late morning and lunchtime when temperatures are at their highest.
  • Ensuring that you are wearing the right, bright, protective winter clothing including hat and gloves.
  • Taking a backpack with a few useful items help including a torch, a head torch, small first aid pack, water and a thermo flask with a warm drink, some nibbles, dog treats, small bowl for your dog to drink water.
  • A fully charged-up mobile is useful, although not all country areas may have reception. A map is useful to take in case of emergencies, particularly in areas with poor mobile reception.
  • Wear quality walking boots and warm socks.
  • Your dog, unless a large longhaired breed that enjoys cold weather, would be advised to wear a fleece padded dog coat as well as the legal requirement of their collar and ID tag and not to forget their lead which must be used when walking near to livestock.

The climatic conditions are more precarious where there is water, frozen open ponds, lakes and rivers and your dog may be tempted to walk on these frozen over areas. Positively discourage your dog as ice can so easily crack and your dog fall into freezing water becoming distressed and subject to hypothermia.

Your dog may not endure the usual length of time walking due to the coldness on frozen ground, ice, snow. It may become uncomfortable for them with their paws ultimately suffering frostbite.

Roads can sometimes be shut due to poor weather leading to countryside park areas. It’s best to turn around and visit more popular areas when conditions are bad. Sticking to walking on the natural pathways is a must.

There may be fewer walkers around with dogs, but your dog poop still has to be picked up and disposed of in the bins placed around the car parking areas to parks. If these are not evident, then you need to take this home with you to dispose environmentally.

Dog poop is generally meat-based excrement which can cause the risk of Toxocara in humans, and in severe cases, where humans have come into contact with dog poop, can lead to blindness.

More mountainous area walks with your dog should be left initially until more experienced. It could be a life saver where conditions can change very quickly and you find yourself in difficulties. The Mountain Rescue Services operate up and down the UK, all year round, the charitable service run by unpaid local volunteers, risking their lives to save others.

Join a group outing run by local experts and build up time spent with your dog walking. Not all dogs can just walk a 10 mile walk or more immediately. Build up time walking with your dog so that by summertime you can take advantage of better weather, longer and safer light days, and longer walks are more enjoyable.

The Countryside Code is published for England and Wales. The devolved parliaments all produce their own versions – Scotland and Northern Ireland separate publications.

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