Responsible dog ownership - it’s a lot more than picking up the poo!

Cornwall is a wonderful place to live, as well as visit, and with many people wishing to enjoy Cornwall with four-legged friends, it also has a high proportion of dog ownership. Many of our valued visitors also want to enjoy Cornwall with their pets, and this is especially welcome at the quieter times of the year and shoulder seasons, when you can enjoy different aspects of Cornwall.

We are well blessed in Cornwall with many wonderful places to enjoy and exercise yourself and your dog. We have a wonderful 400+ mile long coast path, 300+ beaches, amazing National Trust estates and many other beautiful places to explore that make us a paradise for dog lovers and your dogs. But we dog owners must remember that there are far more households without dogs, and far more visitors come without dogs than those who bring their beloved pets.

We obviously need to ensure that both “communities” can enjoy Cornwall to the full, and that can only be achieved by encouraging total responsible dog ownership. Many, if not most dog owners, do believe that they are being responsible, but all too often that is just all about picking up dog mess. Dog mess is only one aspect of being responsible dog owners and it goes much further than that. It is vital that the presence of dogs does not impact negatively on those without dogs, especially families with young children or others who are nervous of dogs.

This issue of dog owners versus non dog owners differing views has been highlighted during the current discussions on the changes to the dog restriction orders on Cornwall Council controlled beaches. From this year the restrictions on many beaches in Cornwall will only be in force in July and August and this change has created considerable discussion with valid arguments from both sides. The words “responsible dog ownership” has been quoted on many occasions, but what does this really mean? We need to communicate effectively the other aspects of dog control that are required if you want to be considered a truly responsible dog owner. This goes much further than just picking up dog poo, it is about having total control of your pet at all times and ensuring that it does not interfere with other members of the public, especially on beaches.

Visit Cornwall are currently working with Cornwall Council staff to develop nine guidelines for responsible dog ownership and these will include items such as keeping your dog on a lead in busier public spaces, especially on beaches, and only exercising your dog on quiet areas of the beach. It is about ensuring your dog does not run up to people, or other dogs, and just saying they are “friendly and only want to play”. This might be acceptable to you, but the other dog or person might not appreciate it. Also, controlling where your dog pees is as important as where they poo, and taking a dog onto a busy beach, especially on a hot day is also unacceptable.

These are just some examples of what the new guidelines will contain, with the aim being to ensure we can get the correct balance, whereby those members of the community who do not want to be impacted by dogs can feel comfortable and happy. Likewise, it will provide guidance on when and where you and your dog(s) can also enjoy Cornwall as a truly responsible owners.

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