Alison Laurie-Chalmers, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets Inverness
Enjoying the countryside in the summer with your dog is a wonderful experience. It's a great way of exercising your dog, and an ideal place to train and bond with your pet. Be a responsible dog owner and enjoy your hike safely. We need to keep the countryside special for everyone, so be respectful of other people, their pets, wildlife, and farm animals.
Before you take your pet on a hike into the countryside:
Check that your pet is Microchipped and is wearing a collar with an ID tag that has your name and address clearly marked on it.
As the pet owner you are legally responsible for everything your dog does, so it is important to be in full control. If your dog runs off unattended they could get into trouble, get hurt, and harm someone or something else. If your dog damages someone’s property or injures or kills a farm animal, then you are at risk of prosecution for any damages.
Make sure your dog’s collar or harness fits well and check that they can’t slip or wriggle out of it.
Keep your dog on a short lead around farm animals or wildlife, especially between early March and late July. Don’t allow them to stray and always use marked paths or access routes where possible.
Brush up on your dog’s training, practice some basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’ and ‘leave’ and ensure that your dog will come back to you on command.
Pack tasty, healthy dog "treats" to encourage your dog to come when you call.
Check your Pet Insurance includes third party liability cover. This means your Pet Insurer will cover any damage caused by your dog.
Check the weather forecast and be prepared. Avoid hiking in hot weather and walk in the early morning or late afternoon/evening on hot days. Take regular breaks and plenty of water for you and your dog. Be aware of the any signs of your pet overheating and avoid walking in the direct sun.
Make sure your dog’s Flea and Tick treatment is up-to-date.
Plan your route carefully and have a map to hand.
Do check in advance if you and your dog are allowed on the land you plan your walk on. Find out as much as you can about where you are going, plan ahead and follow advice and any local signs.
Make sure that the planned walk isn’t too long for your dog. Healthy adult dogs can usually walk further than older dogs or younger puppies. Think ahead and take plenty of rests so they don’t get too tired or become sore and stiff the next day.
Take plenty of water and a portable dog bowl.
Take plenty "Poo bags". Dog faeces can spread diseases to other animals so always pick up after your own dog
Take a favourite toy or ball to distract them if needed
Carry a doggie first aid kit in the car and a towel to dry them off.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have the countryside on your doorstep, you probably will have to drive to your planned route. Keep your dog safe in the car. Use a suitable dog carrier or a pet seatbelt or harness to keep your dog secure and safe while travelling. Also don’t leave your dog alone in a car. Temperatures in cars can change suddenly and overheating could be very dangerous for your dog.
Check that your route is a dog friendly /dogs allowed location and always follow the local countryside code.