With hundreds of routes set in spectacular landscapes, it's little wonder that people come from all over the world to walk in the Lake District. So, if you're lucky enough to be visiting the lakes with your dog soon, then you can be sure that you're both in for a treat.
However, as with all rural walking, there are few things you'll need to bear in mind to make sure that both you and your canine companion stay safe out on the trail. Just read on to discover the four essential safety tips that all dog walkers should know, including how to plan your routes, prepare for the weather, and what you should carry in case of emergencies.
Pick a safe route and stick to the trail
There's no doubt that Lakes are home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the UK, but the mountainous terrain can also make for challenging walks. So, when planning your route, you should take into account your own abilities and stamina, as well as the age and fitness level of your dog. There's no point expecting smaller breeds or older dogs to tackle a hike with lots of rocky, difficult terrain, so pick walks which both you and your dog will realistically be able to finish. If you need some inspiration, then just take a look at our round-up of the best dog-friendly walks to find a route that will suit you.
When you’re out on the trail, make sure you have an up-to-date Ordinance Survey map with you, as this will give you an indication of the sort of altitudes and terrain that lie ahead. They can also be a lifesaver if you end up getting lost.
Pack some basic emergency supplies
You're more likely to suffer from minor accidents and injuries when out in the wilderness, so be sure to take some basic first aid equipment with you, including plasters and bandages, antiseptic wipes, and something to treat insect bites and stings. Blisters can be a real nuisance to walkers, because they can slow your pace and impede your progress, so make sure you've got few padded plasters in your rucksack to deal with any sore spots.
Dogs can be just as prone to mishaps as their human companions, so you'll also need a few supplies to treat your pooch should they suffer from any stings or scratches. This travel first aid kit for dogs from Millbry Hill contains everything you need to treat minor injuries, so be sure to keep it in your backpack during walks.
Watch the weather conditions
When walking in the Lake District, it's important that you check the weather forecast before you set off. It can also be much cooler at higher altitudes than at lower ground, so check the forecast for the hills and mountains as well as the valleys. Weatherline offers a detailed daily forecast for the Lake District area, including the temperatures and conditions at different altitudes.
The Lakes are also prone to rapidly changing weather so, even on fine days, conditions can take a turn for the worse without much warning. You'll need to make sure that you've got everything you need to adapt to the changing weather conditions, including warm layers, a rainproof mac, and waterproof footwear. If your dog usually wears a coat or waterproof in bad weather, then you should bring this along with you, too. Even if you don't end up using them, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Take care when walking near livestock
Although livestock are harmless the majority of the time, they can become panicky when frightened or surprised by walkers and dogs, and this can make them dangerous. But there's no need to worry: as long as you take a few sensible precautions when walking through fields containing livestock, then both you and your dog should be perfectly safe.
When you approach a field where cattle or horses are grazing, it's a best to put your dog on a short lead and keep your distance from the other animals. You should also try to stay close to fences, as this will make it much easier to climb over them should the livestock become unsettled. Horses and cattle can be particularly aggressive when rearing their young, so if you see any young foals or calves, then it’s best to avoid their grazing field entirely and try to find an alternative route.
The Lakes provide a stunning backdrop for a dog walk, but with challenging terrain, loose livestock and sometimes inclement weather to reckon with, it’s important to come prepared. As long as you bear our advice in mind, you can look forward to some wonderful walks with your canine friend.