Protect wildlife & farm animals: Take the Lead

Take the time to appreciate the sights, sounds and smells that bring us so much joy during spring

Exploring the Peak District National Park with your four-legged friend is a great way to enjoy the beautiful landscape, and by keeping your dog on a lead you can help to protect the farm animals and wildlife that live here.

Dog walkers in the know - take the lead

Walking in the Peak District countryside is a popular destination for a vast majority of dog owners and we welcome well behaved dogs on a lead. Keeping your dog on a lead ensures that wildlife, farm animals and other visitors are safe from disturbance and is also a good way to keep your four-legged companion safe too.

Every year in March, the amazing wildlife that makes it home on the moorlands, enter breeding season. This is a vitally important time, especially for the rare native wildlife whose populations are threatened by historical habitat loss, climate change and many other factors. Native species that make their home on the moorlands include birds that nest on the ground such as curlew and golden plover, as well as adders, dragonflies, red deer and many more.

Female red deer, hinds, are very protective during spring as they guard their young calves
Female red deer, hinds, are very protective during spring as they guard their young calves
Female red deer, hinds, are very protective during spring as they guard their young calves

You might hear the haunting call of the curlew as the adults soar over their hidden nests, returning to feed their young chicks. Only if you’re very lucky will you catch a glimpse of the furtive adders as they emerge from hibernation and seek a mate or settle in the sun to bask. During May and June, red deer calves will be completely hidden in the long vegetation, dependant on their mothers and barely able to walk.

Walking with your dog on a lead will help to keep nature safe when out exploring
Walking with your dog on a lead will help to keep nature safe when out exploring
Walking with your dog on a lead will help to keep nature safe when out exploring

New born families

The world of wildlife is mostly invisible to humans, with plants and animals that may spend their entire life hidden from our eyes. The secret world of birds that nest on the ground is one that our canine companions with their more powerful senses are especially good at finding, and the birds raising their chicks can be very sensitive to being disturbed. To protect the invisible, please keep your dog on a short 2m lead when wildlife will be raising and protecting their young families.

Additionally, the spring months across the countryside are accompanied by the traditional sights and sounds of young farm animals, such as bleating lambs gambling happily in the lush grass. Cows and sheep will be pregnant or suckling young across the Peak District. Dogs must always be on a short 2m lead around farm animals at this crucial time of year. If you ever feel threatened by cattle when out with your dog, then let go of the lead as the cattle are more likely to be interested in the dog. Help our countryside to be productive farmland as well as a home for wildlife by taking the lead.

In some areas of the Peak District National Park, you will be asked to keep your dog on a 2m lead all year round to help keep designated and protected areas like Dovedale National Nature Reserve, a haven for wildlife and for people. Help keep you, your dog, wildlife and others safe by following our signs that you see in the landscape and if you are asked by our staff or volunteers to put your dog on a lead, please follow their instruction.

Be a responsible dog owner and set a good example to others by cleaning up after your dog – bag it, bin it and if there’s no bin please take it home.

A family out volunteering at Longshaw, helping nature by collecting seeds and taking the lead with their dog
A family out volunteering at Longshaw, helping nature by collecting seeds and taking the lead with their dog
A family out volunteering at Longshaw, helping nature by collecting seeds and taking the lead with their dog

Savvy summary

  • dogs on short 2m leads to help protect wildlife, farm animals and other people from harm or disturbance.
  • Follow the signs and guidance to help protect birds that nest on the ground and other wildlife by keeping your dog on a short 2m lead at all times from 1st March - 31st July.
  • Keep the countryside clean and free from pollution by cleaning up after your dog and placing the waste in a bin or take it home with you and dispose of there.
  • Act on the signs in the countryside, they are there to keep you, your dog, wildlife and other visitors safe.
  • Be nice and say hi - kindness to others in the countryside and to our staff/ volunteers is essential to everyone's wellbeing and enjoyment of the countryside.

By taking the lead and cleaning up after your dog, you can set a positive example to others and be outdoor ambassadors of the landscapes that you love. Protect our countryside for the future of wildlife and for people - thank you.

For more inspiration for the best places to take your dog, take a look at our page for dog walkers here.