I was out yesterday filling in the last few access gaps in the Peak District National Park with the lambing signs. Lambing and nesting is such a special time of year and always heralds better weather for me. Walking with a dog in the National Park carries with it a responsibility that the dogs are under control. Thankfully most are and thats thanks to responsible owners.
I love walking with my dog Scout. Scout is normally off the lead, one because it is all part of his training as a search and rescue dog with me in Mountain Rescue, two because Scout has passed not one but three rigorous stock tests, that closely examines his ability to be in extremely close proximity to sheep and not pay them any attention, nor want to, its important on a hill search he stays focussed.
But between 1st March and 31st July I keep Scout close by and do not let him range, if sheep are in the vicinity Scout stays to heel on the lead. If there are no sheep and we are in an area where there maybe ground nesting birds Scout stays to heel on the lead. If we are on access land or common land Scout stays to heel on the lead. Scout does walk off the lead if we are in an area where there are no sheep or ground nesting birds, and it is not access land, but again he is not allowed to range and when commanded is immediately close to heel.
Only when Scout is training in these months is he off the lead and away from me, but he is still under my control and will recall if commanded. He will ignore livestock and wildlife. He does not train where nesting and lambing takes place and we have the permission of the land owner or farmer.
On my way back from putting up the last sign, I could hear a man across the valley shouting his dog and I could see sheep running up the hillside trying to get away from the animal. This went on for some 20 minutes, he was too far away for me to do anything, sadly I could only stand and hope the sheep got free of the animal and that no lambs were affected. That was not the dogs fault, it was entirely the owners. Basically your dog should be under control at all times.
If you are unsure about where and what you can do with your dog look here Responsible Dog Walking