Dogs at Dunwich Heath: our 'woof' guide!

A man and lady sitting on a bench bird watching, a dog is in the foreground

We know that dogs are an important part of the family, so they are very welcome at Dunwich Heath. However, the site is also an important nature reserve with sensitive habitats which are home to some rare heathland birds and animals. If you’re bringing your dog along to Dunwich Heath, please help us protect our wildlife and maintain a safe environment for all our visitors to enjoy. The information below will help you make the most of your visit. Please ask our team if you have any queries!

Lead on…

Dogs are welcome throughout the site including our tea room. We just have a few simple guidelines to maintain a dignified doggy environment!

On the heath:

  • From 1 March to 31 August all dogs must be kept on a lead to protect ground-nesting birds such as nightjars and stonechats. Dartford warblers and woodlark are specially protected during the breeding season and must not be disturbed, so please don’t ignore our signs!
  • You can let your dog off the lead from September to February, but please keep your dog under control and stick to the paths to prevent disturbance to wildlife such as red deer and winter migrant birds.
  • We often have livestock on site during the winter months, so put your dog on a lead if you see our sheep signs.
  • We’ve created a ‘woof walk’ trail where dogs are allowed off the lead all year round – pick up a map at our Visitor Information Centre, or download a copy from our homepage.

On the beach:

  • Your dog can enjoy being off the lead on the beach all year round!
  • Be aware of coastal wildlife: seals sometimes haul out onto the beach – do not allow your dog to approach them.
  • Please prevent dogs from chasing birds on the beach. In the summer, breeding birds such as ringed plover may be nesting on the shingle. Winter migrants, such as snow buntings, will need to feed undisturbed as soon as they arrive after their long journeys, so watch out for small birds in the dunes.

In the tea room:

  • Dogs are welcome in the tea room and Visitor Information Centre (we even have free dog treats!) but please keep them on the lead in these areas and also around outdoor seating. 
  • You can take your dog upstairs into the Lookout and also downstairs in one half of the tea room, but we also have a dog-free area, so please look for tables displaying a paw print sticker to ensure you’re in the dog-friendly areas!
  • On hot days, why not treat your pooch to a special doggy ice cream from the tea room!
  • Water bowls are located outside the tea room and around the outdoor seating areas, Visitor Information Centre, Heath Barn and by the toilet facilities.
  • There are dog tie up points located by the tea toom entrance and by the toilets, but please do not leave your dog unattended for longer than 10 minutes.

Stay safe:

  • It’s vitally important that you clear up after your dog and dispose of waste in the dog poo bins provided. These are located by Heath Barn, the beach access paths and around the Woof Walk. Locations are clearly marked on our site map, so please bag it and bin it. Staff in the Visitor Information Centre can give you a spare poo bag if you haven’t got one!
  • You can also borrow a spare lead from the Visitor Information Centre if you need one – we even have some spare tennis balls so you can enjoy a game with your dog!
  • If you have any accidents or emergencies we will do our best to help you, please ask our team! We have a dog first aid kit and can direct you to local vets.
  • Ticks: as with most countryside areas, Dunwich Heath has ticks and they can be picked up by your dog all year round. You can borrow a tick removal tool from our team if you find one attached to your dog while you’re here. Make sure you check over your pets when you get home.
  • Adders: Rare heathland habitat at Dunwich Heath is the perfect home for these shy reptiles! Although you will be lucky to see one, they are active from spring until mid-autumn. Adders are the UK’s only venomous snake, so in the unlikely event that your dog is bitten please contact our team straight away for advice as it will require veterinary treatment. Keeping your dog on a lead during the summer months (as requested) will minimise the risk of your pooch coming into contact with snakes!
  • Never leave your dog in a car on warm days. There is no adequate shade in our car park and coastal temperatures can be particularly deceptive – a cool breeze may reduce the outdoor temperature while your vehicle interior will be dangerously hot for your dog. We will take action if we see a dog in distress.
  • If you happen to lose your dog whilst you’re here, please contact a member of our team as soon as possible and we will do all we can to help re-unite you. Your dog should be microchipped and always be wearing a tag showing your contact details.

You can collect a copy of our ‘Woof Guide’ from our Visitor Information Centre on your next visit, or download a copy here: Dunwich Heath Woof Guide (PDF / 2.3203125MB) download