The lambing season approaches, so dog owners need to be vigilant

With lambing season approaching, it is time for us as dog owners to be vigilant and not let our pets near farms.

With spring just around the corner, here at Petfriendly Ireland we are gearing up for a year of new adventures and planning some great dog friendly walks around the country.

However, with spring also comes lambing season, which means it is also time for us to be vigilant when out walking with with our dogs in the countryside.

All dogs, from family pets to working dogs, can potentially cause a lot of distress and damage if they are not kept under control. At this time of year, sheep flocks have a lot of heavily pregnant ewes, many of which will start lambing in the coming weeks and months.

Sheep worrying by dogs can be a massive concern at this time of year. Even seemingly harmless family pets can cause serious damage if they turn on a flock of sheep.

A dog attack on a sheep flock is extremely stressful and can inflict savage injuries, often fatal. Aside from the economic losses for the farmer, for which dog owners can be held liable, the welfare implications for the flock can be very severe and long-lasting. Sheep never recover fully from a dog attack and can suffer ongoing difficulties, including reproduction problems and increased nervousness.

With up to 2.5 million lambs on 30,000 sheep farms across the country expected to be born by the end of the lambing season this year, it's important that we don't let our dogs cause any unnecessary stress for the sheep.

So, it's important that we keep the safety of the sheep flocks in mind and follow two simple rules when walking with our dogs near farmland:

  • keep to the footpaths
  • keep our dogs on leads at all times


Code of Conduct for dog owners visiting Dublin's parks and gardens

The OPW have issued a Code of Conduct for all dog owners visiting national historic properties in Dublin with their dogs.

The Code of Conduct for Dog Owners identifies specific areas within the OPW's twelve parks and gardens in Dublin where dogs are not permitted or must be kept on a lead. The parks and gardens included are St Stephen's Green, Iveagh Gardens, National War Memorial Gardens, Grangegorman Military Cemetary, Arbour Hill Cemetary, Pheonix Park, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, National Botanic Gardens, St Enda's Park, Rathfarnham Castle, Garden of Remembrance and Castletown House.


For full details and to download a PDF copy of the OPW's Code of Conduct for Dog Owners, please click here

'Rules' of the Way: Walking Your Dog in the Wicklow Mountains

With over 20,000 hectares of spectacular upland  scenery, The Wicklow Mountains National Park offers walkers a real sense of being in the wilderness. The National Park offers an open access policy allowing visitors to explore freely on foot. Which means it's important for dog owners to act responsibly.

If you plan on taking your dog with you, it's important to bear in mind the following four points when visiting the National Park.

  1. Is Your Dog Under Control?

Always carry a lead when walking with your dog in the National Park. The National Park is full of deer. Few dogs can resist the temptation to chase animals. Never let your dog out of your sight. Stressed farm animals can die. Be warned: Farmers in Ireland are entitled to shoot dogs that worry their livestock.

  1. Not Everyone Likes Dogs

Some people may be scared of dogs, especially children. Even the friendliest dog may worry small children. Few people appreciate being sniffed, jumped on or sprayed by water when a dog shakes itself. Be prepared to slip a lead on your dog when people approach.

  1. Beware of Cliffs!

Dogs are not equipped for steep ground. Unlike the mountain goats you may see in the National Park, dogs are not adept at leaping from rock to rock. Don't let your dog chase deer or goat. It could lead your dog to a cliff fall. Be warned: Mountain Rescue only rescue humans, not dogs!

  1. Pick Up After Your Dog

Our dog's are fed high quality food, which means the nutrients they bring can be detrimental to the habitat of the National Park. A deer eats heather, poops heather, feeds heather, etc. Visiting dogs can introduce pathogens in their faeces that can affect wildlife. Always carry a plastic bag or poop scoop and pick up after your dog.

You can read more about taking your dog for a walk in the Wicklow Mountains National Park here.

Useful links:

The Wicklow Way

Overview of the Wicklow Way Trail 

Leave No Trace

The mountain environment is a delicate one. By understanding how we impact on wildlife, landscapes and each other, we can modify our behaviour to ensure that we treat the land, animals and people within these environments with respect.

A number of Ireland’s National Parks are part of a nationwide programme called Leave No Trace. The Leave No Trace skills and ethics help visitors to the outdoors leave minimum impact while enjoying the National Parks.Leave No Trace principles are not regulations. They are guidelines to help visitors make informed decisions in the outdoors so that they may leave the area as beautiful and as natural as they found it.

The 7 principles of ‘Leave No Trace':

(1) Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area that you’ll visit. The National Park Information office can advise on protected areas and seasonal concerns.
  • Check if your chosen recreation or activity is permitted. Always follow signs.
  • Check the weather forecast. Prepare for changeable weather and the possibility of something going wrong.
  • Ensure you have the skills and equipment needed for your activity.
  • If you are a group leader you have added responsibilities – know the competencies and expectations of your group.

For environmental, safety and social reasons split large parties into smaller groups less than 10, ideally between 4-6.

(2) Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails, rock, gravel, dry grass and snow.
  • On eroded tracks keep to the centre of the track, even when wet and muddy, to avoid widening the erosion.
  • In pristine areas:
  • Disperse use to avoid creating new tracks
  • Avoid areas where impacts are just beginning to show.

(3) Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviour and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Dogs should be kept under effective control – i.e. they should come at first call.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young and winter.

(4) Leave What You Find

  • Take care not to damage old walls, ruins, abandoned mine shafts and their workings.
  • Leave rocks, plants, animals and other natural objects as you find them. Fallen trees and dead wood are valuable wildlife habitats – please do not remove or damage.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species. E.g. wash down all boats to avoid introducing zebra mussel.

(5) Be Considerate of Others

  • Park carefully – avoid blocking gateways and forest entrances. Remember that Park staff and the emergency services may need access at all times.
  • Respect other visitors and the quality of their experience.
  • Take rest breaks away from tracks.

Let natures sounds prevail; avoid loud noises.

(6) Dispose of Waste Properly

  • “Leave No Waste” – remove all rubbish and leftover food items, even biodegradable items like T-bags and fruit peels.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 30m away from streams or lakes, use small amounts of biodegradable soaps if necessary. Scatter strained wastewater.
  • Human waste should be buried or carried out depending on the soil type. Waterlogged soils impede the proper break down of waste. Human waste should be removed in these areas.
  • To dispose of solid human waste, dig a “cathole” – a hole 10-12cm deep, located at least 30m away from watercourses and 50m from walking routes. Cover and disguise the hole when finished.
  • All toilet paper and hygiene products should be carried out.

(7) Minimize the Effects of Fire

  • Fire can be devastating to habitats and wildlife. Campfires are not currently permitted in the National Park; the issuing of permits for campfires is suspended pending review.
  • Only gas barbeques are permitted within the National Park.

Download the Leave No Trace brochure here.

You can visit the Leave No Trace Ireland website at