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Walking with dogs

Dogs and sheep

Sheep are widespread in the Pentland Hills:

  • Pay attention to signage at entrances and along routes.  These will often suggest there is a high risk of encountering sheep in that area. 
  • Avoid fields with sheep and lambs where possible. If you do walk through an area with sheep and lambs it is important to keep your dog on a short lead or close at heel keeping your distance from the animals to avoid disturbance.
  • If you see a lamb on its own, do not pick it up or move it: the mother is usually nearby.  If you are concerned for its welfare, call us on 07798 505301, or contact the landowner with the location. 
  • If you go out during the hours of darkness, please consider your route carefully to avoid sheep and lambs.  Low lying fields are key locations for lambing and if disturbed and separated in the dark it can put the lambs at risk.
  • If you find an injured or trapped animal, do not approach if you have a dog with you. Take a note of the location and let the farmer or the Regional Park staff know. 
  • Work on improving your dog’s obedience and recall.  In the Hills you can often come upon sheep unexpectedly around dips and bends.  If you want to walk your dog regularly off the lead, then it is essential the dog is reliable and expertly trained.  Consider professional dog trainers who could help with this kind of training.
  • If you witness a sheep worrying incident contact the Police (999, or 101 if after the incident) and the Regional Park as soon as possible on 07798 505301 or pentlandhills@edinburgh.gov.uk. 

Please support the local farming community and keep within the law by keeping your dog under proper control at all times.

The Regional Park consists mainly of private land which is heavily grazed by sheep and cattle. Worrying of livestock, in particular sheep, is a very real issue for the farmers and landowners. Each year a substantial number of ewes and lambs are worried, attacked or injured, resulting in the deaths of many these animals. 

Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 (S1)  

If a dog worries livestock on any agricultural land the dog owner or person in charge of the dog is guilty of an offence. "Worrying" includes a dog attacking or chasing livestock, or being loose in a field in which there are sheep. There are moves afoot to change this phrase from "worrying" to "attacking", to more properly reflect the incidents on the ground. Most years dog owners are charged under this act due to an incident which has occurred in the Regional Park.

Animals (Scotland) Act 1987 (S4) 

This provides a defence for land managers who shoot a dog worrying livestock, subject to stringent conditions.  Every year dogs are shot in the Regional Park because they have been allowed to leave their owners and start worrying sheep. 

The only location within the Regional Park to exercise your dog without fear of coming across sheep, lambs or other livestock, is Hillend Country Park, just off the A702 - even here, there are some highland cattle above the ski slopes.

Scottish Outdoor Access Code

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code sets out the guidance which applies to dog owners. Please make sure you are familiar with it.

Remember: if you can't see your dog, it is unlikely it is under your control. If you are not 100% sure it will return your to your call, it should be ON A LEAD around livestock.