Walkies! Heath team offers summer advice for dog owners

Dog behaviourist Natalie Light

Dog behaviourist Natalie Light and her four-legged film star - Credit: Contributed

A new online film has been launched for East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust’s Heath Week, designed to help dog owners and walkers enjoy the great British countryside safely this summer.
The first film featuring dog behaviourist Natalie Light, is the first in a series of five bite-size films featuring top tips to be released over the summer.  In each film Natalie shares some valuable advice on how to get a better recall, new games to make walks more fun and some great ideas for working on your dog’s behaviour to cope with distractions when out walking.
These films are the result of a new UK-wide partnership of dog and wildlife organisations including Devon Loves Dogs [https://www.devonlovesdogs.co.uk/], Heathland Hounds, New Forest National Park, Dorset Dogs, South Downs National Park and Bird Aware Solent.  The groups have joined forces to work closely on a dog-related projects to form SCCAMP – the Southern Counties Canine Access Management Partnership.
Julie Owen, Devon Loves Dogs Coordinator, said:
Walking is great for our mental and physical health and it is even more enjoyable when we have our four-legged friends with us. I was first inspired by Natalie’s dog training tips a couple of years ago and so working on this series of films has been a great opportunity. Although we cover a large geographical area between us, Natalie’s top tips are really useful wherever you like to walk with your dog. The countryside is getting busier and dog ownership is increasing which means it’s more important than ever that dogs can continue to sniff and explore the countryside in harmony with wildlife and other users.”
With ground-nesting birds on heathland, livestock grazing and a variety of other path users such as horse riders, children and cyclists, there are many times when your dog can be distracted. Getting them to engage with you will help to achieve a happy, safe and stress free walk. At times, you may need your dog to stick to the path or be on the lead for their own and other’s safety. There are a number of hazards that can be harmful to you and your dog. These can include ticks and adders, which will very often hide away in the scrub and vegetation, away from the pathway areas. This new short film gives some great advice on why it is important to do these things for you and your dog’s safety, as well as protecting the beautiful countryside we all love.
Natalie Light said:
I am so pleased to be involved in the work of SCCAMP mostly because it involves so many things I am passionate about. Collaborative working, responsible use of the countryside, and of course, dogs! 
With many people enjoying the countryside, especially with more people taking staycations as a result of Covid-19, this new found love for nature with their pet dog can cause increased pressure on our lovely green and pleasant land. Each of the SCCAMP organisations champion positive management of dogs in the countryside by raising awareness of the importance of responsible dog ownership. By joining together they hope more people will take this on board .
Julie added:
This collaborative approach of working in partnership means we can share best practice and work together on joint initiatives that promote consistent and memorable messages.
The members of the group have a wealth of experience and share skills in ecology, conservation, dog behaviour and tourism as well as being enthusiastic dog owners. As a result, we all fully understand the pressures that disturbance by people and dogs can cause on wildlife, within the countryside setting.
Everyone has a responsibility to keep themselves, others and your dog safe, while enjoying the great outdoors and we hope that these new films will highlight the positive activities that you can have with your dog and the countryside. They will give you some great tips to assist you along the way. Watch and share these new films, by following Devon Loves Dogs.
To view the film, go to https://youtu.be/PpWoG0NrDQ4
 

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