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Visiting Rowallane Garden with your dog

A couple walk their dog along the Spring Ground on a bright day at Rowallane Garden
Couple walking their dog on the Spring Ground at Rowallane Garden, County Down. | © Catriona Corrigan

Dogs are welcome at Rowallane Garden. We want you and your furry companions to enjoy their visit. Please help to ensure that all visitors, with or without dogs, can enjoy their day by following these guidelines.

Our pawprint rating system

We’ve been working on making it easier for you to find out how dog-friendly your visit will be before you and your four-legged-friend arrive. To help with this, we've created a new pawprint rating system and given all the places in our care a rating. You can find this information in the National Trust members’ handbook.

We're proud to announce that Rowallane Garden is a three pawprint rated place.

Three pawprints means that Rowallane Garden is one of the very best places you can visit for a day with your dog. You’ll be able to take your dog to most areas, including indoors for a cup of tea and a treat. There’ll be clearly signed dog zones and dog-friendly experiences. Read on to discover exactly where you can take your dog.

Where can my dog go?

Dogs are welcome at Rowallane Garden. We ask that they are kept on a short lead whilst walking through the garden and woodland areas. Not every visitor or dog is comfortable with dogs off lead and we ask that you bare this in mind during your visit.

Dogs must be kept on a short lead in the following areas:

The car park

We value your dog’s safety so please put your dog on a lead before letting it out of your car.

The garden and Stableyard

Off-lead activity can lead to physical damage of habitat through the trampling of vegetation, which can adversely damage more fragile species of plants. Dogs off lead can also cause problems of disturbance to species, particularly species of wildlife. Please respect our conservation aims by keeping your dog on a short lead throughout the garden.

Please ensure that, wherever you are in the garden, you clean up after your dog and dispose of waste in the bins provided. Please do not leave waste for someone to step in or for our garden team to clear. You'll be helping us keep Rowallane clean for everyone, thank you.

The house and café

Dogs are welcome in the house and café. In the café you will find a designated dog friendly zone where you can enjoy light refreshments after your walk. There is plenty of room outside in our Tea Garden to sit with your dog in warmer weather.

Explore and Play

As this is an area intended for children their health and safety is a priority. Dogs are allowed on a short lead and must not be taken into the dens or onto the play equipment. Please be extra vigilant and prevent fouling to ensure this is a clean, safe space for children to play.

Where can't my dog go?

Dogs are not permitted on the farmland. This is a grazing area. Livestock should not be disturbed.

Two older women walk through Rowallane Garden with a dog on a lead
Dog walking at Rowallane Garden, County Down | © Catriona Corrigan

Is there anywhere I can let my dog off the lead?

Yes, we have a dog exercise field near our welcome area. Here you can let your dog off the lead.

You must keep your dog under effective control. Effective control means your dog must always be in your sight and come back when called. A dog out of sight may be a dog out of control. If you cannot rely on your dog's obedience, please walk them on a lead.

Please follow these guidelines in the dog exercise field:

  • Close the gate behind you when entering or exiting the dog exercise field
  • Clean up after your dog and dispose on your dog's waste in bins provided or, bring it home with you
  • Respect other visitors and their dogs.

Facilities for dogs

I have forgotten my dog’s lead, what can I do?

We may be able to help. Ask a member of staff at our welcome area if you have forgotten your dog’s lead. We may be able to offer you a spare. Please be aware leads may not always be available.

Where can my dog get a drink?

Dogs can get a refreshing drink of water in the following places.

  • Welcome area
  • Tea Garden
  • Stableyard

Please note: There are dog bowls available in the dog exercise field, but you will need to bring your own water as there is no water supply in this area.

What can I do with my dog’s waste?

Help us to keep Rowallane Garden a clean place for all our visitors to enjoy.

  • Clear up after your dog, no matter where it may have fouled
  • Dispose of your dog’s waste responsibly. Do not leave dog waste by the path side, throw bags into the grassland, or even worse hang in the trees
  • Please clear up immediately if your dog fouls
  • Waste can be disposed of in any general waste bin or at home.
A dog on lead is sitting on the grass beside its owners
Stop and rest your paws on your walkies at Rowallane Garden | © Catriona Corrigan

The Canine Code

We’ve worked with our partner Forthglade to come up with this Canine Code, which helps to make sure everyone can enjoy their day:

  • Keep them close: using a short lead helps to keep your dog from disturbing ground-nesting birds and farm animals. It's essential to use a short lead around sheep. But if cattle approach you, it's best to let your dog off the lead, and call them back when it's safe to do so.
  • Pick up the poo: please always clear up after your dog. If you can't find a bin nearby, take the poo bags home with you.
  • Watch the signs: keep an eye on local signs and notices wherever you're walking. They'll tell you if a beach has a dog ban, for instance, or if a path has been diverted, or if you're in an area where dogs can run off-lead.
  • Stay on the ball: remember that not everyone loves dogs, and some people fear them. So make sure your dog doesn't run up to other people, especially children.

Keeping control of your dog

Our definition of close or effective control is: ​

  • Being able to recall your dogs in any situation at the first call
  • Being able to clearly see your dog at all times (not just knowing they have gone into the undergrowth or over the crest of the hill). In practice, this means keeping them on a footpath if the surrounding vegetation is too dense for your dog to be visible
  • Not allowing them to approach other visitors without their consent
  • Having a lead with you to use if you encounter livestock or wildlife, or if you are asked to use one
Family walking in Rowallane Garden, County Down in November

Discover more at Rowallane Garden

Find out when Rowallane Garden is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

Our partners


We've partnered with natural pet food maker Forthglade so that you and your dog can get even more out of the special places we care for.

Visit website 

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