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Dog Walking Code

Dog Walking Code

The New Forest is one of the most important areas for nature conservation in Europe. As a national park it is a protected landscape and is recognised to be of the highest national importance for the natural beauty of its landscape, the value of its wildlife habitats and cultural heritage. It is also a place which gives opportunities for many people to enjoy these qualities. 

Many people enjoy the New Forest for all types of outdoor recreation including dog walking. It is vitally important that everyone adopts best practice to ensure that activities do not damage the special qualities of the Forest or interfere with the working practices that help maintain this protected landscape. 

Please follow this code of practice for dog walking throughout the New Forest – as supported by all the organisations on the New Forest Dogs Forum. If you employ a dog walker to exercise your dog, ensure they also follow the Professional Dog Walkers’ Charter.

New Forest Dog Walking Code:

  • Always keep all dogs under effective control; if you cannot reliably recall your dog or keep it close by, please keep it on a lead.
  • Prevent dogs from approaching or jumping up at others. Give extra consideration around horse-riders, cyclists, picnickers and children.
  • If an approaching dog is on a lead, put yours on a lead too.
  • Always pick up after your dog; put bagged dog poo in a dog waste or litter bin, or take it home.
  • Keep your distance from grazing animals, especially mothers and their young. Release your dog if threatened or chased by cattle, ponies or other animals to get to safety separately.
  • Do not allow your dog to chase or attack livestock, deer or any other wildlife.
  • Protect wildlife by keeping your dog to the main tracks, especially through heathland when birds are nesting on the ground (March–August).
  • Avoid disturbing coastal birds by exercising dogs away from them.
  • Keep dogs on leads in car parks and alongside roads.
  • Remember it’s a working forest; always obey warning and safety signage.
  • Do not park in gateways or on verges; it can prevent access for farm and forest vehicles and the emergency services.

If you follow the New Forest Dog Walking Code, please display one of our dog window stickers available at information points, visitor centres, vets etc. or you can order one by e-mailing us at

National Park Volunteer and Access Officer


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