With dog ownership on the increase, professional dog walkers are working with the New Forest National Park Authority to help care for this very special place.
The New Forest dog walkers’ charter lists 24 ways that businesses can help care for the Forest and provides a standard mark for pet owners to find responsible dog walking businesses.
A recent national survey revealed that since the initial Coronavirus lockdown dog ownership has increased. 41 per cent of current pet owners got a new pet during lockdown and 30 per cent of dog owners also say they would spend more money on dog walking services in the near future.
All professional dog walkers that walk in the New Forest National Park are being encouraged to abide by the best practice standards set out in the charter, which has three main themes: operating the business in a professional manner; staying safe and respecting the environment and being considerate to other Forest users.
New Forest Dog Owners Group represents more than 1,000 dog owners, and its chairman, Heather Gould said, “The way to preserve our freedom in the Forest is to behave responsibly, whether that’s individual owners or professional dog walkers.
“Clearly dogs need to be under control. A maximum of six not only seems fair but ties in with other aspects of professional dog walking such as insurance. Equally, if someone is trusting their dog to a walker, they can be reassured that things like emergency first aid have been thought about. No one wants an accident, but dogs are mostly regarded as family members and can’t speak for themselves, so they need the best care and welfare standards.
“Of course, most professional walkers and dog owners are already responsible. But it takes just one or two to not behave and we all have a bad reputation. The Charter helps prevent this. I am keen to recommend to our members and other dog owners that if they use a dog walker, check they’ve signed the Charter and behave responsibly.”
The charter backs the existing campaigns led by Forest organisations such as:
- keeping to the tracks to protect rare ground nesting birds
- parking only in designated car parks
- keeping your distance from the livestock
- picking up and disposing of dog waste
- having dogs under effective control at all times.
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