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Paws on DartmoorPaws on Dartmoor

Lambing and Bird Breeding Season
1st March – 31st July

Always keep your dog under effective control in the vicinity of farm animals

Dartmoor National Park is a great place to take your dog for a walk.  We want you and your dog to have a safe and a happy visit to Dartmoor, so please be a responsible owner and make sure your dog is always a welcome visitor to the National Park. 

The campaign 'Paws on Dartmoor' has been developed in response to the increasing number of incidents involving uncontrolled dogs and livestock but will also provide advice to dog owners on canine health issues associated with taking your dog onto Dartmoor.

The key messages are:

  • Dartmoor welcomes responsible dog owners;
  • Your dog doesn't know any better - please make sure you do;
  • Always control your dog, so that it does not scare or disturb cattle, sheep or ponies;
  • When walking your dog on Dartmoor, please keep it on a short lead during the lambing and bird breeding season (1 March – 31 July);
  • Regular worming of your dog keeps it healthy and protects Dartmoor's livestock;
  • Please ensure that you clear up after your dog and dispose of poo bags responsibly.

'Paws on Dartmoor' leaflets are available from Dartmoor National Park Authority Information Centres at Princetown, Postbridge and Haytor, with National Park Rangers handing out free information cards to dog walkers.

Many visitors and local people exercise their dogs when enjoying Dartmoor. Although a dog may not be actively chasing livestock, its presence can still cause disturbance.  During the lambing season pregnant ewes are particularly vulnerable. A frightened animal may abort or abandon its young – a tragedy for the animal and a financial loss to the farmer.

Countryside access with your dog

  • On public rights of way, your dog should be under effective, close control.  Please keep you and your dog to the line of the path and if livestock are present your dog should be on a lead*
  • On most areas of Access Land or common land your dog should be on a short fixed lead of no more than 2 metres between 1 March and 31 July.  Outside of these times please keep your dog under effective control If grazing livestock is present.
  • If cattle chase you, then it is safer to let your dog off the lead – don't risk getting hurt trying to protect it.
  • At certain times, dogs may not be allowed on some areas of access land or may need to be kept on a lead.  Please follow any official signs.
  • Always clean up after your dog and dispose of any mess responsibly.
  • Make sure your dog is regularly wormed to protect it, other people and farm animals

Looking for walks off the lead?

If you are looking to exercise your dog more freely, then there are paths and trails around the Forestry Commission woodlands at Bellever, Soussons and Fernworthy.  Please be aware that there is a conservation grazing project in operation at Bellever.  There are also miles of public rights of way within the National park away from moorland areas.  If using rights of way across farmland, please keep to the line of the path and put your dog on a lead if you encounter livestock.

Guided walks with your dog

The Moorland Guides offer guided walks where you can bring your dog too.  Visit  (external website, opens new window) and look at Dog Friendly Walks.

Tick advice for dog owners

Ticks are parasites that potentially carry harmful diseases.  They are particularly common during spring and autumn, so check your dog for ticks every day after each walk. More information about ticks.

Further information

The leaflet You and Your Dog in the Countryside produced by the Natural England and the Kennel Club is available here (external link, opens new window). This leaflet is also available from our Information Centres.

Livestock Protection Officer

Karla McKechnie is Livestock Protection Officer with the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society and the Dartmoor Commoners' Council. Part of her work is to raise awareness of the importance of keeping dogs under close control when visiting access land.  She also records and investigates reported incidents of stock worrying. In the last twelve months there have been more than 60 reported incidents on Dartmoor alone.

If you witness any disturbance of livestock or interference with bird nesting sites by dogs please call the Livestock Protection Officer on 07873 587561, or the Police on 101.

Page last updated: 17 Jul 2015
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