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Bringing your dog to Dunwich Heath

A couple sitting on a bench with their dog at Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk
Please watch out for the wildlife when walking your dog | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

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
Visitors walking a dog at Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk
Dogs can be let off their lead on the beach at certain times of the year | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

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.
Children playing outside coastguard cottages at Dunwich Heath and Beach in Suffolk

Find out more about Dunwich Heath

Find out how to get to Dunwich Heath, where to park, 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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