Exploring the great outdoors

Our top tips for safe exploring & adventures with your four-legged friend

As dog owners, we often fall into the habit of walking familiar routes with our dogs - but just like us, a dog's sense of smell, hearing and sight is heightened by exploring new routes. We're fortunate enough here in the UK to have access to hundreds of beautiful, crisscrossing public footpaths offering wonderful viewpoints, terrains and wildlife to keep us and our canine companion entertained.

There's no better time to enjoy the natural beauty of the countryside with your four-legged friend. Here are our top tips for making those special walks something you and your dog can remember - for all the right reasons!

Explore new surroundings with the Wildlife Trust

Your local Wildlife Trust offers all the inspiration you need for beautiful, natural landscapes in your area which are carefully looked after to ensure they're preserved for the future. On our doorstep here in Devon, the local Wildlife Trust has a range of wild walks available to download from their website helping visitors to explore some of the most beautiful sights of the county, including estuaries, quarries reclaimed by nature, and the tors of Dartmoor. You can find your local wildlife trust here.

Planning your walk

  • Make sure you've got a local map - this is especially important if you're going off the beaten track or to an area you're unfamiliar with
  • If you're visiting a Wildlife Trust location, make sure you know whether it's dog-friendly and if there are any specific rules you'll need to keep in mind to avoid any disappointment for you or other visitors
  • Check the weather to ensure you know what you'll need to bring along - this should help to avoid you being caught off guard by bad (or even good) weather
  • Make sure you have a lead for your four-legged friend that suits the distance, terrain and distance you're planning to walk - you might want to consider extendable or even a hands free lead for long distances. We recommend the Ruffwear Roamer Leash which is both extendable and can be hand-held or waist worn.
  • Make sure to take some water with you, as it's important for both you and your canine companion to stay hydrated. We recommend portable items such as the Ruffwear Quencher Water Bowl which is lightweight and can be folded away for on-the-go hydration.

Being responsible when you're out and about

  • We recommend keeping your dog close or on a lead at all times. You know your dog better than anyone else, but you won't always know what dangers could be just around the corner for your dog or other wildlife.
  • If you walk your dog off the lead, please bear in mind that other people and their pets can feel intimidated by dogs rushing toward them - be considerate and make sure to have your dog on a lead if you see other dogs or people in the distance
  • Large animals including cattle and horses can be spooked by your dog which could lead to injury for both the animal and your dog. Always put your dog on a lead if you notice any other animals roaming in the area.
  • Smaller animals like sheep and their young can die if they're startled by your dog - try to find out whether there are any small animals grazing on your route before you set off, and if you take your dog off the lead - don't let them disappear into the distance.
  • Help to preserve the natural spaces you visit, and avoid spreading disease by making sure to carry more poop bags than you think you'll need and making sure you always pick up after your dog.
  • Some dogs love water, and it can often be hard to stop them from diving straight in when they see it - but in certain places it could be unsafe or not allowed. Make sure you know whether it's safe and if it is allowed before letting them go for a dip.
  • Canals, lakes and ponds support all sorts of life and it’s important some are left completely undisturbed. Check out the Canal & River Trust for more information on waterside walks with both your pooch and the local wildlife in mind.

Relax & enjoy

Enjoy the time you spend having new adventures with your beloved dog - spending quality time together helps to build the bond between you both. Remember to keep it fun - you might even want to consider taking some toys & natural treats with you as an extra bit of excitement for your biggest fan.