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Responsible Dog Walking

All dog walkers have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control and no dog owner would willingly want their dog to be seen as out of control. A dog does not need to be aggressive to be out of control.

Use of Leads

Being in control of your dog does not mean it has to be on a lead. The law does not require dogs to be kept on leads.This common misunderstanding can result in some dog owners believing that they do not need to fully train their dog as long as it is on a lead.

A dog can be out of control whilst it is on the lead, and a dog off lead can be fully in your control (if well trained and supervised).

Know your dog and communicate

The key to being a responsible dog walker is knowing your dog and communicating with both them, other dog walkers, or members of the public.

If you know your dog does not like other dogs then make other dog owners aware of this. Similarly, if your dog does not like cyclists, children, or certain triggers, it is your responsibility to make others aware so that you can stop any situation arising that may trigger a negative response by your dog.

Being a responsible dog walker is not just about having control of your dog(s), but it is being aware of:

  • your surroundings;
  • your dog's actions; and
  • acting appropriately with courtesy, allowing everyone to enjoy West Lothian.


Stick to the following guidelines to make sure you and your dog(s) are seen as responsible and to prevent any incidents caused by your dog(s):

  • Supervise and be aware of what your dog is doing at ALL times. Your dog should always be within your sight. If you cannot see them then they are not under full control.
  • Only walk your dog off lead if it has a reliable recall and can exhibit full control. If you cannot call your dog back instantly you DO NOT have full control.
  • Do not allow your dog to approach another dog which is on a lead. You should never allow your dog to approach another dog without the permission of the owner as they may not wish for the interaction for various reasons. This should also apply to dogs off lead.
  • Only feed dog treats to your own dog unless you first ask permission form the owner. Giving treats to other dogs encourages them to approach people uninvited.
  • Respect the rights of others to use public areas. Never allow your dog to pester other users of public areas such as parks, cycle paths etc.
  • Be aware of public areas that do not allow access to dogs or those that impose restrictions such as having your dog on a lead at all times.
  • When passing other dog walkers, pedestrians, or cyclists on paths you should always initially position yourself between your dog and the other user so that both users can pass freely. This also gives you the control over whether you allow the other user and your dog to interact or not.
  • ALWAYS have a means of cleaning up after your dog and dispose of it in the correct manner. If there are no nearby facilities you should keep a hold of it until such a time that you can dispose of any waste. There is no excuse for dumping dog waste in an inappropriate manner.
  • Encourage and enjoy interactive play with your dog. Your dog does not always have to play with other dogs, but should only do so once it has a reliable and good standard of recall.