People walking with their dogs have a responsibility to ensure that they are under control and don’t cause distress to animals they meet while out walking, including livestock like sheep.
Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, if a dog worries sheep on agricultural land, the person in charge of the dog is guilty of an offence. The definition of worrying sheep includes attacking sheep, chasing them in a way that may cause injury or abortion and a dog being off the lead or not under close control in a field or enclosure with sheep.
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code also clearly lays out the responsibilities of people enjoying the local countryside with their dogs, stating: “In exercising access rights, you must keep your dog(s) under proper control. You must also ensure that your dog does not worry livestock.”
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code also advises the following when walking near sheep:
Dog walkers have to keep their dogs under control especially around sheep. Sheep can lose their lambs if they are put under stress and this can have a significant impact on our farmers’ livelihoods. Police Scotland’s rural crime section is working with officers from the Council to address these issues, but we need your help. Please keep your own dog under control and be respectful to others.
If you have any concerns contact:
Animal Welfare (Environmental Health)
Telephone: 01563 553538
Police Scotland on 101