Warning of spike in dog attacks as ‘pandemic puppies’ visit countryside for first time

  • Owners have been warned of a spike in numbers of dog attacks, as “pandemic puppies” are expected to visit the countryside for the first time.

    As dog attacks are up 10% from last year, and in line with the relaunched Countryside Code, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is offering advice on country walking, to help the 2.2m new dog owners understand how to keep their dogs and other animals safe.

    CLA southeast regional director Michael Valenzia said: “Getting a new puppy is an exciting time for everyone, although it is also a huge learning curve. Part of that learning curve is teaching your dog how to interact with other animals safely. But worryingly, a third of dogs bought during lockdown have never even visited a park.

    “With lockdown restrictions easing up, we want to help inform the millions of people on how to protect their dogs and keep animals safe, allowing everyone to enjoy the countryside together.”

    Advice for owners includes picking up dogs’ poo, keeping dogs on leads and ensuring they do not chase wild or domestic animals, as well as following any advice on signs to “reduce disturbance to plants and animals”.

    “Prevent your dog from approaching horse riders, cyclists, or other people and their dogs uninvited,” a CLA spokesman.

    “A lack of education around the Countryside Code has left some visitors without a basic understanding of what is acceptable behaviour. The CLA continues to campaign for the code to be taught in schools across the region.”

    Mr Valenzia added that in general, most people adhere to the code.

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    “But there can be incidents of anti-social behaviour or a lack of awareness of the working countryside,” he said. “All visitors should be conscious that the countryside is a place of work where the land, livestock, machinery, wildlife and environment must be respected.

    “Over the past year, we’ve all come to value the importance of getting outside for our mental and physical wellbeing. Farmers and landowners are looking forward to welcoming the public to make the most of the 150,000 miles of public rights of way in Great Britain. We hope that by reading our advice visitors can respect the local environment while staying safe.”

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