Following reports of cow trampling incidents, National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) is warning dog walkers about being safe around cows and has offered valuable advice for those walking near livestock.
The rescue and rehoming charity has issued new guidelines and an information video, which could potentially save lives if walkers do find themselves and their dog in a dangerous position.
NAWT CEO Clare Williams said, “If you’re out in the countryside or even walking in some suburban places, there’s a strong possibility you and your dog will come across a herd of cows. Cows are naturally curious animals and may attempt to come towards you and your dogs which can be very alarming.
“Never, ever walk in a field where there are cows with their calves, or if there is a bull with the cows. You will be putting yourself and your dog in serious danger. Even if there are no calves or bull with the cows in the field, if you can find an alternative route, do so. If you have to walk through a field of cows, keep your dogs on the lead.”
The campaign comes after it was revealed a dog was killed and a man seriously injured in the New Forest when the dogs were running loose around cows. The herd of cows were later slaughtered after the incident as these cows had been worried by dogs in the past and the commoner had nowhere else to keep them, fearing they might attack dogs again
In June a woman was airlifted to hospital in Snowdonia after she was injured by a herd of cows with a bull while out walking her dogs with her granddaughter.
NAWT believes some of the problems arise because people are not aware of how herds of cows behave. While some herds might not even give walkers a second glance as they walk through a field, it is quite common for cows to come over because of their curiosity in you and your dog. This experience can seem intimidating and often walkers will perceive the behaviour as a threat when it is most likely to be non-threatening.
Clare Williams said, “When the cows start to follow, try to keep a steady pace and remain calm. Cows tend to match their pace to yours, so if you speed up they will too in order to keep up with you. Our advice sheet offers ways to manage the situation if you find yourself in a field with cows.”
“Fortunately, these incidents are rare and people should go out and enjoy themselves in this lovely weather. Our advice is to read more about how cows behave, especially if you are taking your dogs out into the countryside.”
NAWT’s advice for walking safely around cows:
- Never, ever walk in a field where there are cows with their calves. You will be putting yourself and your dog in serious danger.
- Even if there are no calves with the cows in the field, if you can find an alternative route, do so.
- If there is no alternative route, stay on the footpath and walk calmly through the field.
- Always keep your dog on a lead when walking near livestock.
- Be aware that cows are inquisitive creatures and will most likely come towards you to investigate you and your dog. If they are approaching at a leisurely pace they are most likely curious.
- It can seem intimidating when the cows start to follow you but try to keep a steady pace and remain calm. Cows tend to match their pace to yours, so if you speed up they will too in order to keep up with you.
- The cows may sniff and lick you and your dog, this is them taking in more scent of you both and getting a better look at your dog, because cows do not have a good depth of vision.
- If you feel confident enough, you can turn and clap your hands and say something like ‘hey, hey, hey’ to shoo the cows away. Only do this if your behaviour is not going to upset your dog. Bear in mind the cows will move away quite skittishly, but they will most likely come back, so do not run towards the exit of the field, walk briskly but calmly.
- If you reach a situation where you feel that you and your dog are in danger, you may decide to let your dog off the lead so you can both reach safety. Only do this in the most serious circumstances, and do be aware that your actions may risk in you and your dog being prosecuted for livestock worrying.
Find out more and watch their information video on walking with you dogs around cows here