There’s nothing better for dog owners than taking your four-legged friend for a walk in the Great British countryside as the new season starts to get underway.
Before the clocks go back and the cold weather sets in, why not take your chance to explore some great escapes around the country that you and your dog will love to discover on a beautiful autumn day? It’s worth remembering that whilst you and your dog are enjoying the great outdoors there are other animals and livestock also enjoying their surroundings so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the Countryside Code and if necessary, ensure your dog is on a lead.
Scottish Highlands: Your dog will be spoiled for choice in the Scottish Highlands. From Cairngorms National Park to Oban, Connell, and Port Appin, the huge spaces and rich wildlife offer something for everyone.
Castle Ward, NI: Your dog will love this trail featuring the rich woodland of the Lecale countryside and Strangford Lough.
Cornwall: Try the walking trail through the ancient fishing village of Polperro taking in the coast to Devon and into Cornwall featuring caves, harbours and more.
Alcester: Take in the period bridges and farmhouses of the West Midlands countryside in this trail running along the River Arrow and discover the Heart of England Forest.
West Yorkshire: The valleys of the Hardcastle Crags and bubbling streams will be a treat for any dog to explore.
Isle of Wight: Dogs will love this varied coastal walk through St Helens Duver with sand, wildlife and lagoons.
Norfolk: With parklands, fields, woodland, sea and sand, your dog will love to explore Sheringham Park.
Staffordshire: Winding footpaths, streams and a rolling valley – your dog will love exploring this Downs Banks trail.
Worcestershire: A circular walk where dogs are free to run off-the-lead through the forest woodland of theWest Midlands countryside.
London: From Peckham Rye Park to Hampstead Heath, wherever you live in London, there are some amazing green spaces that your dog will love to explore.
Keeping Dogs Safe Outdoors
As the evenings draw in and the changing season brings falling leaves, rainy days, and even ice, sleet and snow, it’s important to take some precautions when venturing out with your dog:
- Weather – autumn days are usually beautiful opportunities to venture outside and enjoy the crisp bright skies and colourful nature, however the weather can quickly change so checking the forecast in advance is a good idea to ensure you are well-prepared
- Visibility – as much as possible aim to stick to well-lit, open routes. Using hi-vis clothing for both yourself and your dog is a good idea and carrying a torch is sensible if you are going to be out after dark. If you enter an unpaved area of road walk your dog on the farthest side of the road against the flow of traffic and keep them on their lead
- Warmth – coats for both you and your dog can help to keep you warm and dry in inclement weather. If it is particularly rainy it’s worth having a supply of dry towels and spare coats in the car to change into after your walk to warm up
- Fur – your dog’s fur will help to keep him or her warm during the colder weather so it’s best to avoid having their coat trimmed too much during late autumn and throughout winter. However, keeping the fur around their feet short will help to prevent painful ice balls collecting between the toes and the pads
- Ice and snow – as autumn draws to a close and winter sets in, ice and snow bring with them dangers for dogs. If your dog runs on to an icy pond, do not follow them. Instead call them back to you. If the worst happens and the ice cracks, encourage them to swim towards you. Preventing your dog from licking the ice or snow will also help to avoid them getting their tongue stuck! Beware also salt and any chemical de-icers used to melt ice – you might want to give your dog’s paws a warm wash when you get home to stop him or her licking any potentially harmful chemicals
- Clearing up after your pet is not optional even when the wind is howling and the rain pouring! Come armed with suitable bags and dispose of them properly – don’t leave them for the ‘poo bag fairy’!
- Ticks are not just a summer problem. They can be active all year round in the UK so it’s worth checking when you return, especially from parks or woodland walks. Don’t forget to treat your dog regularly to prevent any unwanted parasites such as ticks, worms and fleas – talk to your vet or pet care specialist for advice on what’s best to use.
Autumnal evenings and wintry days offer up fantastic opportunities for brisk exercise in beautiful surroundings. Using some of the bespoke walking routes and being mindful of the precautions that you should take will help to keep you and your pet happy, health and safe during the changing seasons.