Dog walking can be one of the best ways to get people out and about experiencing nature but our faithful hounds and our beloved wildlife often have conflicting needs, making it difficult to create green spaces suitable for both. Follow these top five tips to plan a greenspace that will result in happy dogs, and happy wildlife:
- Provide areas of enclosed greenspace. Offering safe areas for dogs to run off-lead makes dog-owners more likely to respect on-lead areas.
- Create a circular dog walking route, with clear, defined paths. Obvious paths will encourage dog walkers to stick to a set route meaning they are less likely to disturb more valuable wildlife areas.
- Ensure these areas and routes are within 500m of new homes. Placing suitable areas within walking distance will deter owners from driving to areas further-a-field that they perceive to be suitable greenspace.
- A range of all-weather surfaces with a naturalistic feel will guarantee dog walkers consistent access without having to invest in walking boots.
- Construct an area of clean water with safe access for dogs. Providing an assigned ‘splash-about’ area will keep dogs out of water which contains sensitive wildlife.
If you’d like more advice on planning for wildlife and dogs, Hampshire County Council have produced a wonderful document: Planning for dog ownership in new developments: reducing conflict – adding value.
Stig, pictured is the world’s first water vole detection dog. He is trained in the art of water vole poo detection. To find out more about Stig, his partner in training Lola, and their handler Ali, visit Ecology Dogs. Alternatively, keep regularly up-to-date with their water vole finds by following @EcologyDogs on Twitter.