Dog-friendly nature reserves

Dog walking on our nature reserves

WildNet - Tom Marshall

There's a reason not all of our nature reserves are dog-friendly

Our nature reserves are special places. Through sensitive management, dedicated conservation work and the passion of our staff, volunteers and supporters, we ensure they continue to give wildlife a safe haven in which to live, feed and breed.

Our nature reserves are also the perfect spot for a peaceful walk. On our dog-friendly nature reserves, you can even bring your four-legged friend to appreciate nature with you. All we ask is that you keep your fluffy companion on a lead and under close control when dog walking in these vital wildlife refuges, so you, your dog and the creatures around you can all enjoy our wild places.

Why aren’t all our nature reserves dog-friendly?

Dogs are beloved companions and part of the family, but to wildlife they’re a big and scary predator. Asking you to keep your dog on a lead, or reserving some wild places solely for wildlife, ensures the creatures living there are free from disturbance.

A skylark standing on the ground

Skylarks nest on the ground and are sensitive to disturbance. Image by Amy Lewis

There are lots of responsible dog owners, but unfortunately, just one dog running loose could cause a ground-nesting bird to leave its nest, or a reptile to use vital, hard-earned energy fleeing into the undergrowth. Ultimately, this kind of disturbance can impact wildlife populations.

Some of our nature reserves simply aren’t safe for dog walkers due to uneven or boggy ground and hidden pools or ditches, while at others, we have grazing animals that would get stressed by an altercation with a dog, no matter how friendly the dog’s intentions.

Other nature reserves in our region are home to particularly fragile habitats and types of plants, and are at risk from invasive species. The seeds of these invaders could be spread across the reserve on a dog’s fur, while other sensitive plants are at risk from trampling.

Dog walking checklist

If you’re planning on treating your pooch to a stroll at one of our dog-friendly nature reserves, please remember this checklist.

Keep your dog on a lead

This minimises potential distress and disturbance to local wildlife and any grazing animals.

Peter Cairns/2020VISION

Pick up after your dog

Dog mess isn’t just an unsightly health hazard for visitors, reserve staff and volunteers; it also stunts the growth of wildflowers and threatens sensitive plants. Please use any poo bins provided or take dog mess home with you.

Dawn Monrose

Keep your pooch out of open water

This means the wildlife living in ponds, lakes and rivers isn’t disturbed, and the risk of spreading invasive plants and amphibian diseases is reduced.

Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Consider other visitors

From wildlife enthusiasts to ramblers and school groups, we welcome a huge variety of visitors onto our dog-friendly nature reserves. Please remember that not everyone is fond of dogs, and young children could be knocked over by an overly enthusiastic dog trying to say hello.

Matthew Roberts

Which of our nature reserves are dog-friendly?

If you’re looking for dog-friendly days out where you can spend time in nature with your faithful friend by your side, try one of these dog-friendly nature reserves where you can walk your pooch on their lead.

Thank you so much for your understanding and co-operation

Andrew Parkinson/2020VISION