It's now spring, and birds are nesting, some on the ground. 'Everybody' knows that. Just in case they didn't, the authorities have erected clear signs, asking for dog owners to keep their dogs on a short lead, and explaining why.
And do they? Do they chuff. What's that all about? Anybody care to justify it?
I often find myself pondering this after seeing dogs loose around grazing sheep.
My theory is that a nonzero number of owners fall into one or more of the following categories
With underlying condition of being lazy, selfish or antisocial.
Quite a generalization.
Some dogs are fine around grazing sheep, and some sheep are fine grazing around dogs. I could point you to several bits of common land that are shared by grazing sheep and dog walkers alike.
granted sometimes some fool with a badly trained or unsuitable dog will cause a problem sometimes. or let a dog near sheep which are not accustomed to dogs and trigger a problem. and that is a real problem. But you surely can't look at every dog off the lead on the same land as livestock and jump to the conclusion that the owners are lazy, selfish and anti social?
with regard to the original post, Nesting birds are quite a different matter. I agree dogs should not be able to roam and interfere during certain times at known nesting sites.
Amazing how many people let their dogs run loose on the scars when the sheep are grazing. Had to shout at a dog chasing pregnant ewes near the car park only a couple of weeks ago.
Sadly, poor owner judgement means, in the event of lambs being mauled and the farmer getting his shotgun out, there are no winners.
> But you surely can't look at every dog... and jump to the conclusion that the owners are lazy, selfish and anti social?
I dont, and they key word of my post that communicated this is "nonzero". I didn't even attempt to quantify as far as majority or minority, never mind extending it as far as every owner.
ah righto, misinterpreted nonzero in which case yes there's some bad owners out there.
I run a lot with a dog in the fells, she's well trained and has no interest in stock, just follows along nicely. I still put her on a lead if we are passing right by or through sheep, more out of respect of the sheep's owners. But more often than not we can just go around them and she stays off the lead. Maybe that puts me in the wrong, but it would be a sadder world if that was the case.
Its a problem that is not solely confined to Scout Scar, it is a problem at most places in the countryside where there are ground nesting birds and/or pregnant sheep / lambs in fields.
But hey, the UK is a land of dog lovers, isn't it?
The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 does seem to put you in the wrong under the following definition of sheep worrying.
>(c)being at large (that is to say not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep
Close control might be arguable if the dog was extremely obedient. I think there are enough badly trained dogs out there to say this is flimsy at best.
I find it really hard to swallow that anyone is omniscient enough to truly know their pets psychology and mood and how they'll react in every given situation. I definitely dont buy that the same person can also know the whereabouts and predisposition of all the livestock and wildlife in a given area.
These are animals that can't communicate to us and each other with nice clear words like nonzero.
OP wanted insight why dog owners knowingly ignore signs reminding them of their responsibilities. So far you've given us sadder for a reason why you're not totally strict with it.
Is it sad because dog hasn't been trained to run nicely on lead?
Is it sad because you wouldn't be able to do the outing in the way you wanted to do it? It would have to be different in some way - a different route, a walk, without company of dog etc
Whats causes you to do it the way you want to do it rather than how you're supposed to do it?
How do you feel about the additional work required to do this differently: to train dog to come along, plan a different route, do the run then take dog walkies elsewhere, arrange dogsitting etc?
Do you concern yourself with your personal enjoyment above all else?
Do you have care for the thoughts and feeling of other people that might be affected if your dog were to disturb wildlife/livestock?
I cannot explain why some dog owners ignore signs any more than I can explain why people speed on the motorway or ride mountain bikes down footpaths. if a sign said keep the dog on the lead I'll do it. or more likely I wouldn't take my dog there in the first place.
so putting the nesting bird issue (a real issue) to one side and looking at the sheep thing
taking the referenced legislation and ignoring the grey area of "under close control" that statement still only applies to enclosures, not open fellside where there are sheep for most of the year. that said a dog should not be running riot on the fellside ether.
no I don't magically know what my dog is thinking at any given moment but over time you get a feel for their mood, excitable, nervous etc and adjust on lead/off lead accordingly. regardless if I'm in stone throwing distance of sheep she's on the lead.
now I'm lucky in that I have a dog with zero prey drive and just follows me about sniffing the odd bit of piss, past dogs have been more work but got there eventually (except squirrel chasing, had a dog that I couldn't crack for that one, solution: avoid woodland)
yes I do care about wildlife and other people, more than most. and I dislike rowdy dogs as much as the next guy. its unpleasant at best. but I cannot help but feel this discussion has shifted to throw good dog owners into the same bunch.
so please tell me what harm am I doing by having my dog of the lead?
Some dogs can be trusted around livestock but there is also the chance that something triggers them and then it is potential disaster.
"He/she has never done that before" appears to be a common response from a dog owner whose dog has just attacked another dog or bounded very quickly up to a person and scared them.
I think in some cases that response is the owner trying to absolve themselves from the responsibility of their dog's actions but it could be the truth and something in the dog/situation has triggered an unfortunate response.
I read a blog from someone who bred and trained deerhounds. She said that she would walk through field of sheep with any one of dogs off the lead, but never if she had more than one, the risk was just too great.
You come across as very responsible. So in my view you're likely not doing any more harm than I do when I go out for a run or bike and have sheep sprint away from me or a flap erupt from the heather.
Course I'll slow down or change track rather than knowingly charge through the middle of them, but I cant think of a time I've stopped and turned around. This is because I'm selfish and want to do my run, and too lazy to think up a new plan. I'm a bit of a rules stickler, so I usually bike on bridleways and dont speed habitually, but when I do its because I'm too lazy to plan an alternative or selfish enough that Ill put my immediate wants first.
I think selfishness is an underlying human condition that has been evolutionary advantageous to survival, as laziness has been to developing tools etc. I'm not trying to point that solely at dog owners from a high horse.
The sticking point in this subject is the unknown elements of the invididual dogs prey drive, recall etc. Because they can't tell us exactly and we can't be sure they understand the rules.
A nonzero number of owners dont have a good handle on it, and a nonzero number of owners don't act accordingly.
I only care enough to post due to selfishness. I get more enjoyment out of seeing the lambs and oystercatchers on our moors than I do seeing the occasional walker with their dog off lead. And its the fear that that precious thing might be taken away, when there's supposed to be rules to prevent it, that sparks the anger.
Much like, you may be angered by seeing bad owners, because your fear it reflects badly on you, or could lead to further restrictions on what you can enjoy?
> how distressed are sheep by dogs?
I am more worried about the dog with these sheep, than the sheep! (and before anyone goes off on one the farmer is stood next to the person taking the picture)
If the hound isn't working and there are sheep around he is on a lead or close. Same this time of year if we are on a walk and there is a risk of ground nesting birds, he is on a lead. Not that he generally strays off a path unless he is working
That's lovely , but it's the exception rather than the rule. Normally at best the sheep make off, and the dogs all too often chase them. My local farmer (I live in farmland, he's down the road) has already lost lambs this year, and since lockdown there are a lot more dogs around.
He's given a general warning that he's going to shoot bothersome dogs to the people on this street, and I sadly expect he will at some point
Agreed, I got chatting to quite a few farmers whilst looking for sheep to do specific training around. It is an extra stress the farmers don't need, even more so this time of year
I get that
I think at the root of this is humans being humans. I could take a walk to the beach and see dog walkers, people playing football, flying big kites, kids running about, bbqs etc not much space left for nature.
Everyone just trying to do the thing they enjoy but this doesn't leave much space for each other or wildlife. when all's said and done any user group starts acting up it's very noticeable. Unfortunately rowdy dogs do stand out as being particularly disruptive. Which sucks for those who have a handle on the behaviour of their animals.
Ah well, I think I'll take the dog out for a quiet wander and see what I can see today.
> They scare the living delights out of sheep especially during lambing season etc.
A bit of an exaggeration - sheep round us attack dogs at this time of year. A dog from our nearest village had its pelvis broken by a sheep when the dog was being walked through a field of sheep on a lead. If the dog had been off the lead it probably would have escaped the attack by the sheep.
Some dogs will understand that, some won't! We have one who might eventually get it, and one who definitely never will!
We probably messed it up with the older one when we first had him. He came to us at 6 months and was interested in sheep. So a farmer friend said that what he did with farm pups is put them in a pen with a load of ewes and the ewes give them a fright and they know to keep clear. So we did this. But Benji's reaction to a scary thing (and we did know this because he did it with traffic, the local train line etc etc) is to bark and chase away the scary thing! So now he's not just interested in sheep, but also scared of them, so they DEFINITELY need chased before they eat us! So yeah, works with some but not others!!
Neither of ours will ever be offlead around sheep, Benji is never off lead at all.
> A bit of an exaggeration - sheep round us attack dogs at this time of year. A dog from our nearest village had its pelvis broken by a sheep when the dog was being walked through a field of sheep on a lead. If the dog had been off the lead it probably would have escaped the attack by the sheep.
Rubbish. To a sheep, dogs are predators. They may be able to suss which ones are more “predatoresque” than others, but that’s it. My springer had a thing for sheep when he was a pup. This was trained out of him and now he slots right beside me whenever sheep are around. But I still put him on the lead, simply to respect the wishes of farmers, and because you can never be 100%. Sorry to hear about the at dog, but that example is a rare one.
Yesterday a lamb, and quite a fat lamb at that, had ended up on the other side of a path to it's mother. We had the dog on the lead and the lamb walked over from about 10m away to within 2m of our dog and looked at it for a while before bouncing off. Not sure if their eyesight is that bad or if it was just curious.
I've also known of a lamb hand reared by a friend that spent time with dogs and seemed to think it was a dog.