I'm A Good Dog!
National research shows that between a third and a half of countryside visitors have a dog with them. However, there are concerns about problems caused by a small minority of irresponsible owners to other people, sensitive wildlife and protected landscapes, including on the heaths. Uncontrolled dogs often (inadvertently) threaten wildlife or upset recreation for other people.
Help your dog be a 'Good Dog'!
Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB has been providing information and training as part of the EU BALANCE project I'm a Good Dog! We hope you find this information useful and that you will help your dog to be a Good Dog!
TOP TIPS - It is best not to let your dog roam unsupervised, and always 'Bag and Bin' after your dog. Look out for 'on the lead' or other official signs - there is probably wildlife around that needs some 'quiet time', especially during nesting time from March to July. Rare birds such as nightjar, woodlark and stone curlew (for example) are well camouflaged and nest on the ground.
Quick Guide to a more enjoyable walk with your dog
Prepare for your day out. If you are heading out on a new route it might be useful to take a map. Keep a short, fixed lead with you in case you find an Open Access or other area with dog restrictions or a field where livestock are grazing. Don’t forget to bring water for your dog if you are taking a long walk.
Respect other walkers and their dogs. Some people feel uncomfortable when approached by dogs. Even if they are dog walking, their pet may not be as friendly or as confident as yours!
Please train your dog. It needs to come back to you when called, walk to heel and not pull on its lead.
Always remember to keep your dog on a lead when there is livestock nearby. Keep an eye out for signs that tell you when livestock are present, even if you cannot see animals. Even a well behaved dog running loose can scare grazing animals. This can be very distressing and could be dangerous for your dog and for you. If you are chased by livestock let your dog off the lead. It is safer to let your dog run away and this could distract the animals from you. You can call your dog back once you have reached safety.
Play an active part in helping conservation. Many areas are important for wildlife. Keeping your dog on a lead on sensitive sites helps ground nesting birds. Please look out for signs with information about birds and other animals.
Please clear up after your dog! There are over 7.5 million dogs in the UK and they produce over 10,000 tonnes of faeces a week, enough to fill 4 Olympic sized swimming pools. Parasites from unwormed dogs can harm farm animals and children. The ‘I’m a Good Dog!’ campaign encourages dog owners to put dog mess in a biodegradable bag and bin it.
Be careful to watch where your dog goes. It can be very easy to lose sight of your pet. Making sure your dog can be easily identified makes it much easier to get it safely back home if it gets lost. Dogs should always have a collar with a disc showing their owner’s name and address. It is also recommended to microchip your dog for extra security. If your dog does go missing contact the dog warden at the local District Council and phone Petlog the national microchip database on 0870 606 6751.
Please follow instructions on signs. While you are out, you may come across a sign politely asking you to put your dog on a lead. Please do so. What a great way of showing what a responsible dog owner you are!