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Dogs on Public Rights of Way

A dog is considered a 'usual accompaniment' of a person on foot. Nonetheless this entitlement is confined to the line of the path and only exists whilst the dog is accompanied by its owner/ keeper.

The law does not rule that a dog be kept on a lead whilst accompanied on a public right of way.  However, it does state that they must be kept under close control (see dogs and livestock below).

Dog fouling is an offence and may result in either a fixed penalty notice being issued against the person responsible for not clearing up after the dog or in a prosecution and a fine being imposed if found guilty.

If you would like to report dog fouling we would be in a better position to take action should you be able to provide a full description of what happened. This could include the date, time and location, as much information as possible about the incident you witnessed, a description of the dog/owner as well as any information regarding the offender such as name and address (if known), the vehicle registration number or any other identifying feature.

Please contact your local Dog Welfare and Enforcement Officer on 0300 1234 212.

For further information on dog fouling, dog waste bins and online reporting of dog fouling please see the Dog Welfare and Environment Service pages.

The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 makes it an offence to allow a dog to chase or attack livestock, or to be 'at large' in a field or enclosure in which there are sheep.  'At large' is defined as not on a lead, or otherwise under close control.  Remember - A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing livestock.  This gives added weight to the Country Code which states that you must 'Keep your dogs under close control'. 

Any dog which stands on a public right of way and, by its 'threatening behaviour', prevents users from using the path constitutes a public nuisance and is therefore considered to be an obstruction.  'Threatening behaviour' may include snarling or running around the user barking in a threatening manner.

To report a problem with an aggressive dog, please use the link below:

Report a public right of way issue

This could also constitute dog(s) being considered dangerous under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and action taken against the person(s) in charge of the dog(s) by the Police. Landowners and occupiers must also ensure that such dogs are kept under proper control when in the vicinity of a public right of way.

For further information, please see Devon & Cornwall Police Advice on Domestic animals.