Bringing your dog to Dunwich Heath
Dogs are very welcome at Dunwich Heath. However, the site is also an important nature reserve with sensitive habitats, along with rare heathland birds and animals. So, if you’re bringing your dog to Dunwich Heath, please help to protect the wildlife and maintain a safe environment for everyone to enjoy.
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.
Dunwich Heath is a three pawprint rated place.
Three pawprints shows 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 at Dunwich Heath?
Dogs are very welcome at Dunwich Heath, but there are a few restrictions to be aware of on your visit:
From 1 March - 31 August:
- All dogs must be kept on a lead and must stick to the footpaths on the heath. This is to protect the ground-nesting birds. Please don’t ignore the signs
- Dogs can be let off their lead on the beach, but please prevent them from chasing birds or approaching seals
- You can also let dogs off their lead on the 'Woof Walk' (the purple trail on the site map)
From 1 September - 28 February:
- Dogs can be let off their lead; however, they must be kept under close and effective control.
For everyone’s enjoyment, please keep dogs on their lead in and around any building. There are secure dog lead clips on most buildings.
Pick up a woof guide from the visitor welcome hut for more details on bringing your dog to the site.
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
What facilities are available for my dog?
- Dogs are welcome inside the tea-room, but please sit at pawprint-labelled tables
- Dog tie-up points are located outside the tea-room and the toilets. Please do not leave your dog for more than 10 minutes
- Water bowls and taps are provided around the buildings
- Spare leads, treats and poo bags are available from the visitor information centre. There are even tennis balls so that you can enjoy a game with your dog
- If you have an accident, we have a dog first aid kit and can direct you to the local vet
- If you happen to lose your dog, please contact a member of the team as soon as possible. It’s a legal requirement for your dog to be microchipped and wear a collar with your contact details
What do I need to be aware of at Dunwich Heath?
As with most countryside areas, Dunwich Heath has ticks that can be picked up all year round, so make sure you check for any signs when you get home.
These reptiles are active from spring until mid-autumn, and are the UK’s only venomous snake. In the unlikely event that your dog is bitten, please contact the team straightaway as it will require veterinary treatment.
Never leave your dog in a car on warm days – there is no adequate shade in the car park. The team will take action if we see a dog in distress.
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.
Discover the best places for a dog walk, from coastal adventures and dramatic mountains to more leisurely walks near you. Plus find information on dog-friendly cafés and read our Canine Code.
If you’re bringing your dog to the places we care for, here’s information on the Canine Code and pawprint rating system to plan your visit.
After a good dog walk in the fresh air, find a place to sit and relax with your dog in a dog-friendly café.
We've partnered with natural pet food maker Forthglade to create the Dogs Welcome project, helping you and your dog to get the most out of the places in our care.
Find out about the work we do to care for the landscape of Dunwich Heath, where the wide variety of habitats provides a home for many different species.
Discover the different areas to explore, and the variety of wildlife you can spot when you visit Dunwich Heath, with some rarer species highlighted...