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Spring Walks with your Dog

The length of the day gets lighter, longer and warmer, the desire to do our best for our much-loved canine companion is strong, “let’s get out into the countryside with Fido.” In our eyes, a well behaved, trustworthy, faithful and much loved part of the family.

The position of his eyes tells us a little more, two forward facing eyes that give the ability to focus on the desire to chase catch and kill for food, a predator, similar to that in the human. Different to animals with eyes on the side of their head, those eyes giving a wider view, with a purpose of spotting the predator and thus preventing predation.

“Saturday morning let’s get our boots and waterproofs on and give Fido a good run in the countryside, we can park at the pub in the village that I drive through on my way to work, we go along the footpath across the fields into the woods, up the hill and onto the moor.” From both the canine and the human eye this all seems very straightforward, but when you look at from the other side of the fence (pardon the pun) it looks a little different.

Anthropomorphism is putting human feelings onto an animal, it is unique to humans, other animals do not have the same ability, so when you walk along that footpath over the field the sheep do not see things the same way that we do they don’t see the well-behaved, trustworthy, faithful and much loved part of the family, they see a predator, something that wants to chase catch and kill them for food, and thus they behave accordingly, they flock together and move away from the predator, it’s natural to the sheep.

Into the woods and it’s different, the sheep are left safely behind, the wood is home to other animals with eyes on the side of their heads such as rabbits, squirrels and dear, their defence mechanism is slightly different to the flock animals such as sheep, they use the cover and vegetation to hind in, but if found will flee. Remember a dog’s senses are not just vision, they have an incredible scenting ability to sniff out these animals and will chase if they are given the opportunity, its natural.

Onto the moor and potentially we can now encounter both domestic farm stock and wild animals so both “natural behaviours” could be witnessed, along with many other natural behaviours.
So that gives us a very brief insight into some of the behaviour of mammals in domestic, farm and wild state, but in all three scenarios birds can and do nest, on the ground or very close to the ground.

Birds mostly have their eyes on the side to detect predators in the same way as mammals but also various other techniques to prevent being found including camouflage. Different species of ground-nesting birds use different ground habitats to nest on, so even if you walk into a short grass field with no sheep doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything that might be predated by your dog!

Obviously, it’s great to let Fido have a good run around in the countryside but please be aware of the impact he may have on farm animals and wildlife, look at it from their point of view, it’s only natural.
Springtime is when more animals to predation by dogs but not the only time.

Enjoy your air, recreation and dog responsibly.

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