What to do if you Encounter Cows on your Dog Walk

There’s nothing quite like a long walk in the countryside with your dog, no matter the season, to take in the stunning scenery and breathe in some fresh air. It’s easy to get distracted by the rolling hills and luscious landscapes, but it’s important to keep your eye out for potential dangers and know how to handle any tricky situations whilst out and about. 

Alongside keeping an eye out for tractors and potentially hazardous farming equipment, whilst wandering the countryside you’re also likely to come across farmyard animals like cows and sheep. 

Cattle are not usually aggressive, although young bullocks and heifers can sometimes be a little nosy. There are always exceptions to the rule though, and one of these occurs when cows have their young with them. Not surprisingly, the mother’s natural instinct is to protect her calf. This can cause a few problems, particularly if a walker comes between a cow and its young, which can escalate when you throw a dog into the mix.

There have been cases of walkers, particularly those with dogs, being attacked and even killed by cattle. They’re rare incidents, but it’s still important to exercise caution around animals that can weigh up to a tonne.

The Ramblers have the following advice for walkers on what to do if they encounter any cows:

  • Stop, look and listen when entering a field. Look out for any animals and watch how they are behaving, particularly bulls or cows with calves
  • Avoid getting between cows and their calves, as they will feel threatened
  • Be prepared for cattle to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you, but stay calm
  • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd
  • Keep your dog close, on a short lead, and under effective control. If your dog is small, consider carrying them through the field until you’re clear of any livestock
  • Don’t hang on to your dog if you are threatened by cattle – let it go as the cattle will chase the dog and not you, and your dog will be able to flee much quicker than you can
  • If you’re on a public right-of-way that has cattle on it, you’re fully within your rights to come off the path and find a safe route around them. You should then rejoin the right-of-way as soon as it’s safe to do so
  • Don’t panic or run – most cattle will stop before they reach you; if they follow just walk on quietly

The key thing is to be aware of your surroundings and stay vigilant. Remember to stay calm and get yourself to safety quickly, but without panicking, as lots of noise and commotion is just likely to make things worse. Walk with purpose, but don’t spook the animals in the field, just get yourself out of there. 

Don’t let the idea of bumping into some cows put you off venturing out into the countryside, as you’ll miss out on some of the best natural beauty the UK has to offer. Instead, stay clued up on how to handle yourself, and how to keep you and your pooch safe whilst out on your adventures! 

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