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Dog walking

Seasonal advice

Find out how to be Sheep Wise with George, VisitScotland's Ambassadog. Read his blog.

Be Sheep Wise - Watch this video and find out all you need to know about being Sheep Wise.**


It’s autumn and it’s fabulous out there! We hope everyone is making the most of being outdoors in this most iconic of Scottish seasons. As well as enjoying the amazing display of autumn colour, all dog walkers are being asked to ensure they are up to speed with the information and guidance given below.  Be aware - Prepare – Be sheep wise – Share.

Be aware

  • Farmers are moving sheep around the countryside in the autumn, bringing them down from the open hill for mating and over wintering and closer to towns and villages
  • Look out for sheep where you may not expect to see them.


Top tips for autumn and winter

  • Be seen - it’s time to find your fluorescent jackets, torches and lights! Make sure you and your dog can be seen by traffic and make sure you can see your dog so you always know where he/she is.
  • Check and fix gaps in garden fences and boundaries so that your dog can’t escape
  • Don’t allow your dog out on his/her own

Be Sheep Wise – what can I do?

Know the guidance from the Scottish Outdoor Access Code

  • Wherever possible it’s best to avoid going near sheep as dogs can cause unnecessary worry for them
  • If you need to go into a field of sheep, keep your dog on a short lead or close and heel and keep your distance from the animals
  • In more open country, when there are sheep around, keep your dog close at heel and keep your distance from them.


  • Please tell your friends – help them to be aware too
  • Report any stray dogs to your local authority dog warden
  • If you have any information about a sheep worrying incident or even a ‘near miss’ report it to the police or anonymously to Crimestoppers.

The advice on this page has been put together by Scottish Natural Heritage and our partners Police Scotland, National Sheep Association Scotland, Scottish SPCA, NFUS Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates, The Kennel Club and Quality Meat Scotland.

Everyone can help prevent sheep worrying attacks, whether you’re a dog walker or anyone out in the countryside. You should report:

  • any stray dog out on its own
  • a neighbour who lets their dog out to roam on its own
  • a dog you know that escapes from its owners garden.
  • a dog worrying or attacking sheep.

All of the above indicate a dog that isn’t being properly looked after. A roaming dog could get injured if out on its own or cause an accident if it’s crossing roads with traffic. If a dog is not under proper control it can be a danger to livestock. It is a dog’s natural instinct to chase and livestock worrying attacks often result in serious or fatal injuries to sheep. In some circumstances the farmer can kill the dog to stop it attacking the sheep.

  • Contact your local authority Dog Warden or equivalent member of staff to report a straying dog.
  • If you witness a dog attack on sheep call 101 for non-emergencies, in an emergency call 999. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.