Visiting Badbury Rings with your dog

Visitors walking their dog at Badbury Rings in Dorset

Kingston Lacy and the estate is a beautiful place to walk, and taking your dog along the network of paths through fields and open countryside can be a wonderful way to get back to nature, and enjoy the fresh air.

When out with your four-legged friend we ask you to be aware of the countryside and do your bit to be a responsible dog walker.

The canine code

  • Take the lead: You can help reduce the chance of your dog disturbing ground-nesting birds and farmer’s livestock by keeping them on a short lead. Please follow signage on site for whether your dog can be off-lead.
  • Scoop that poop: Picking up your dog’s litter keeps the area clean for others, while helping cut disease risks and pollution. When you’re done, pop it in the bin or take it home!
  • Paws for thought: Are you walking in the right area? Sometimes our rangers might ask you not to walk somewhere as you could be putting rare species of plants and wildlife at risk.
  • Be on the ball: While lots of us love dogs, some of us don’t. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re always in control of your four-legged friend when around people – especially children.

Walking near grazing animals

Farmers in the area often struggle with dogs off leads near their cattle and sheep. Pregnant sheep are often so stressed by dogs running loose, that the farmer can lose both the lamb and the sheep. Pregnant sheep can abort their young and die from the stress. It isn't just dogs biting or attacking grazing animals that is the problem. If dogs chase younger animals, they can become separated from their mothers, and die from starvation or exposure. It is worth remembering livestock worrying is a criminal offence.

Diseases from dog poo

There is also growing evidence to suggest that dog poo in fields containing livestock, or in fields where hay is cut for livestock feed, could be contributing to diseases that can cause serious damage to livestock.

Dog poo can lead to neospora which causes abortion in cattle, sarcocystosis which causes neurological disease and death in sheep, and toxocariasis which can impact upon the liver, lungs, eyes and brain in humans (especially young children, who have more of a tendency to put their hands in their mouths and transmit the bacteria).  

Many of these diseases, including neospora, are not treatable and will often lead to much distress for the animal and may even result in the animal having to be destroyed. Unfortunately, we have had to destroy heifers from our herd of Red Ruby Devon cattle as a result of neospora. As this is a pedigree breeding herd, that means blood lines are lost forever.

Please pick up your dog poo at all times and dispose of it in bins provided or take it home for disposal.

Protect wildlife

Birds nest on or near the ground in areas like heaths, downs and wetlands, so in places like this we ask you to keep your dog on a lead between late February and August. This includes Badbury Rings and Holt Heath where ground nesting birds can be found.

Migrating or overwintering birds need all their energy reserves and can be left exhausted and vulnerable if chased, so please prevent your dog from chasing flocks. Any kind of wildlife may be injured, severely stressed or lose unborn young if chased. This includes rare birds like the nightjar, who if scared off the nest leave eggs or chicks exposed to predators and the cold.

Please dogs on leads or under closed control, ensuring they keep to paths.

Walking in Murlough National Nature Reserve, County Down


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