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Crofters and farmers offered support tackling irresponsible dog owners as livestock worrying webinar details revealed by NFU Scotland; Kennel Club supports event that will also flag commercial opportunities of dog walking fields for farming community

By Hector MacKenzie

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Stephen Jenkinson: 'We can make the outdoors a better place for all'.
Stephen Jenkinson: 'We can make the outdoors a better place for all'.

FARMERS and crofters are offered practical advice and support to help them manage the behaviour of dogs on their land – and reducing conflict with their owners.

NFU Scotland is running a webinar next week for its members, aware that livestock worrying is one of the biggest issues that farmers, crofters and landowners face through irresponsible access by dog owners.

For livestock, it is not just the physical attacks by dogs that can cause damage, the NFU says. Even allowing dogs to chase or ‘play’ with sheep or cattle, for example, can cause untold damage – from emotional issues to abortions to rendering the animal unable to be used for breeding in future.

In addition, there are significant emotional issues for the farmers involved who work tirelessly to breed quality sheep to the highest welfare standards and depend on their stock for income.

As lambing and calving season gets going coinciding with some lockdown restrictions easing, NFU Scotland is staging the event to try and ease the pressure.

Attendees will learn about:

reducing conflict arising from access takers with dogs and local dogs that escape or allowed to roam,

cover principles of dog walker behaviour which informs how best to influence behaviour face-to-face, using signage and path management;

opportunities and limitations of legal remedies;

income generation from dog walking fields and commercial dog walkers.

Tom French: 'Invaluable' advice. Picture:Ian R Fleming
Tom French: 'Invaluable' advice. Picture:Ian R Fleming

The event will be chaired by Tom French, NFU Scotland legal & technical chairman. He said: "This webinar will be invaluable for any farmers and crofters who have issues with dog access to the countryside.We know that there are still ongoing problems with this type of access taking, not least with livestock worrying and dog fouling.We would urge members to attend this session, which will highlight practical ways to deal with issues and also highlight the rights that underpin this."

Specialist guest speaker, Stephen Jenkinson, the Kennel Club’s access and countryside advisor added: “No-one in the countryside seeks conflict, be they farmers or dog owners, and so this partnership between the Kennel Club and NFU Scotland will help land managers take practical steps to prevent problems occurring from pets being walked and local dogs that have escaped. This mirrors the Kennel Club’s training and education programmes for dog walkers; if everyone knows simple steps to change their behaviour we can make the outdoors a better place for all.”

There will be a question and answer session at the end of presentations.

The Zoom event hosted by NFU Scotland with support by The Kennel Club will take place on Wednesday, March 24 at 7pm and registration in advance is recommended using this link https://bit.ly/3l24NAi

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