Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Farmers told to put up signage ahead of Easter influx of dog walkers

Farmers are being encouraged to put signs up on their land to remind dog walkers of how to visit the countryside responsibly.
Farmers are being encouraged to put signs up on their land to remind dog walkers of how to visit the countryside responsibly.

With Easter and warmer weather on the horizon, farmers and landowners will soon witness an increase in the number of dog walkers on their land.

And while most people visiting the countryside do so responsibly, a small number cause headaches for farmers when their dogs worry or attack livestock.

The problem was exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic, with farmers reporting an increase in the number of dog owners walking on their land during national and local lockdowns.

A survey by the National Sheep Association in 2021 found two-thirds of UK sheep farmers had experienced an increase in dog attacks on their animals since the start of the pandemic, while figures reveal that between April and November last year there were 103 incidents recorded by Police Scotland under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.

This includes six in Aberdeenshire, eight in the Highlands, six in Angus and two in Fife.

Increase in penalties for dog owners

New legislation, which increases the penalties for dog owners who let their pets worry livestock to up to a £40,000 fine and/or 12 months in prison, has been introduced to tackle the problem.

Dog attacks on livestock are usually at their highest during lambing season.

However, landowners’ body Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), says farmers and land managers can take steps to prevent livestock worrying incidents from happening in the first place by engaging with visitors to their land.

The organisation’s policy adviser for access and rural crime, Simon Ovenden, said this is the time of year when dog attacks on livestock are likely to be at their highest.

“Too often farmers have heard tearful stories from people whose dog is likely to be destroyed because it has attacked, and that it had never worried or chased sheep before,” said Mr Ovenden.

“The farmer is understandably uninterested in the past conduct of the dog, as they collect the bloodied and ripped corpses of lambs and their mothers.”

Signs can help avoid incidents

He advised farmers and landowners to display clear, simple signs aimed at the public on their land at relevant times of the year.

“Try to offer advice in a friendly but direct way to avoid any situation escalating to an unfortunate level,” said Mr Ovenden.

“Point out any restrictions in place and explain clearly why certain areas are off limits or inadvisable to enter.”

Signs are a useful way to remind dog walkers to keep their pets under control.

Mr Ovenden said signs can be used to explain what responsible behaviour entails, as outlined by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, and to highlight the tough penalties in place for dog owners whose animals attack livestock.

According to the code, responsible behaviour includes: always keeping your dog in sight and under control; not taking your dog into fields where there are lambs, calves or other young animals; never allowing your dog to worry or attack livestock, including displaying aggressive behaviour such as barking; and bagging and binning any dog poo.

In instances where farmers and landowners come across a livestock worrying incident taking place, they are advised to phone the police and gather as much information as possible.

“Try to get photos and descriptions of the dog, people, vehicle – if there is one – and the time of day,” said Mr Ovenden.

“And call the police using 999 stating a crime is in progress, giving as much information as possible.”

Scottish Land & Estates policy adviser for access and rural crime, Simon Ovenden.

Everyone should enjoy the outdoors responsibly

Meanwhile, the Scottish Outdoor Access Code also contains advice for farmers and land managers.

They are urged to consider public access and assess relevant risks; use helpful signs, if necessary, to highlight issues to visitors to the countryside; and to suggest reasonable alternative routes if needed.

NatureScot’s recreation and access manager, Mark Wrightham, said: “We want everyone to enjoy visiting Scotland’s outdoors, but many people – particularly new dog owners – may not be aware of their responsibilities or how their actions can affect local farming or crofting communities.

“The Scottish Outdoor Access Code contains some very simple and clear advice for people who are walking their dogs outdoors and it’s particularly relevant at this time of year, during lambing season.”

The code is available to read online at and signs for farmers and land managers can be downloaded, or purchased, from SLE by visiting the organisation’s website at

Already a subscriber? Sign in