New Responsible Dog-Walking Campaign launched

One of the biggest issues our staff have is balancing the differing needs of visitors to the Commons. Responsible dog control has become a significant issue over the last year and we have launched our campaign to raise awareness so that all visitors can enjoy their visit and the wildlife that make the Commons its home is safe.

The Ranger's Office has been receiving an increasing number of calls from visitors - dog walkers and non-dog walkers alike - complaining about issues such as:

~ Disturbance to sensitive areas of the Commons
~ The amount of dog-waste left on site – in or out of bags
~ Horses ‘spooked’ and riders falling because of out of control dogs
~ People knocked over by out of control dogs (in one instance the victim was in hospital for a week with a shattered knee, and another a shattered elbow)
~ People having their picnics ruined or children having food snatched from their hands by out of control dogs
~ Joggers bitten by dogs
~ Damage to the golf course and interference with the golfers.

And so in late May we launched a "Responsible Dog-walking" campaign.  Banners have gone up at the main entrances to the Commons asking our dog-walking visitors three important questions...

Do you….pick up after your dog and dispose of the waste appropriately?

Do you….keep your dog in sight and under control?

Do you….walk no more than four dogs in any one group of people?

Our Keepers will be out and about chatting to dog-walkers over the summer months reinforcing these three important messages.

The questions are designed to encourage people to stop and think - not everyone who comes to the Commons is a lover of dogs, some people are genuinely afraid of dogs, particularly if they are in a large group. If you are confident your dog is always under proper control, that you always pick up after your dog and don’t walk more than four dogs in anyone group, you can walk on proudly. If not, take a few seconds to consider the impact your dog might be having on someone else’s visit, to the wildlife that live on the Commons and help ensure that everyone’s visit is enjoyable.

The vast majority of the feedback about the campaign that we have received in the first few days, from dog-walkers and non-dog walkers alike, has been extremely positive with a number of people commenting that this is long overdue and, indeed, more than one person has suggested that the tone could have been firmer. 

However, the intention was to get people's attention and to make them stop and think. The campaign has certainly raised awareness and created discussion, exactly what we wanted to achieve. We have tried a softer approach and it simply hasn't worked. The banners will go in September but hopefully the message will remain in people's minds. 

Do take the time to talk to our Keepers, they'd be delighted to stop and chat about this campaign, and any other queries you may have.