Dog safety when around in the countryside
Summer is comming again and the days are getting longer, a nice time for walks in the countryside. There are many things that we need to be aware of, of course same as walking round town, we need to be aware of cars as we cross the road, but in the countryside there are many dangers, and yes, taking your dog for a walk ...well is not dangerous, but there are dangers when walking with your dog!, that's why I want to focus on dog safety, as a person who lives on a farm, and someone who likes trekking and taking my German Shepperd for a walk especially during camping trips.
The main hazard dog owners who walk their dog round the countryside is those angry cows, hundreds of people die or get injured by cows because ....they just have a dog!
And why do cows want to attack your dog?
What has your dog done to that cow or cows?
Nothing, as someone who lives on a farm myself cows are silly in some ways, but you have to understand that they see the picture in a different way to you and I.
A dog is a canine, a predator, dogs eat meat, a cow is a herbivore, cows eat grass, canines are a threat. A mother cow will only attack if the dog walks near, especially near her calf, if you stay at a distance the cow won’t run at you, but will be on alert.
Same with humans in a way, if a wolf was walking towards a child, a human would do what it can to protect the child and deter the wolf
In a cow’s mind it is self-defence.
Also things go worse when the dog starts growling and barking.
There are many people who don’t understand! One person told me once that when he was on a road trip to Scotland there were cows on the road and they wouldn’t move, what did he do?
Get he’s dog out of the car!!! That is the last thing anyone should do! They can injure you or your dog or even kill you. But luckily these cows were heifers (young cows who have not had or have a calf) They were quiet lazy and with not a care about the little spaniel or the owners trying to shoo them out of the road. Heifer bullock/steer, bull or cow that hasn't got a calf, if it moos, keep your dog in the car, they are more scared of you than the dog, and could think you are the famer
What should you do to protect yourself and your dog?
Here are some steps you should make
- Make sure you are at a clear distance from the cow, if she has a calf, and you have a dog, don’t go near!
- Never get near a calf or between a cow and a calf
- If you have to go pass, make a safe distance around the herd, don’t get near, and walk fast calmly and quietly, without looking at them (act like your no threat)
- If by any chance you end up in a situation where a cow comes charging, let the dog go and walk away as fast as you could! Some people hold on the lead when a cow comes charging at their dog, they try all sorts like throwing stones or smack the cow with their hands! Don’t do that, just let the dog go! By holding on the dog you are making your dog more scared than he/she already is, also resulting in a possible injury or death of your dog, and if the cow misses your dog, there is a chance it could hit you! And if there is a herd of cows you are in more danger!
- Also smaller dogs are less of a threat to cows compared to bigger dogs, so find another way round if you have a big dog like a collie or an alsatian, this still doesn't mean you can walk towards a cow or near her calf, it will hit or threaten your dog, but won't do as much damage as it would to a bigger one
Someone I know who was a farmer himself was killed by a cow while he was trying to feed her calf in a shed, the cow hit him hard with her head, he was fine for a bit, but it was after a while when he suffered from internal bleeding he died in the arms of he’s wife.
Cows are big and strong animals and can kill or seriously injure you if they hit you or step on you, there’s no point waving at a cow and smacking it on the head if it walks or run to you or your dog head down, it would be like someone trying to hit you with a leaf, that head is much stronger than yours or mine!
People forget that dogs can run faster than them! They can also defend themselves by keeping a safe distance from the threat and avoid can incoming attack. So letting go of the lead and running away is the best solution for yours and your dog’s safety, run to the nearest gate or as far as you can.
If your dog has a reason for being unable to run fast, you should avoid getting near cows in the first place, walk back and find a safer route
A cow or the herd will stop running when you are as far as possible from their calves, it is mainly their calves they are more concerned about, and even if they don’t have calves themselves they will help the ones who do…
What do I do when my dog is being attacked?
There are times when a dog can get injured especially if there is a herd of cows and the dog didn’t know it was right behind, or was unable to escape call for help from the nearest land owner or farmer, let them know so they can save your dog and get those cows away and do something to prevent it from ever happening again, don’t risk your life no matter how much your dog means to you, save yourself first!
And don’t be one of those ignorant people that blame the owners of those cows, yes you may be walking through a public footpath, but the land belongs to the land owner, the farmer, and they have to make a living, cows have to eat somewhere there is grass to live, and they obviously can’t go to the next farm and borrow their field, The owners have no control over a cow’s mind, and when a cow get’s angry a cow will get angry, and there is little they can do about it.
Most of the times it is preventable, and most of the times it's all about common sense, and respect of animal's space, there is a boundary between how far you can be from a cow and it's calf...
I own 6 dogs, and have seen our cows go mad when the dogs are out on the field when we collect sheep, but they don’t go mental, they have a line between them and the dogs.
I go on walks when travelling around the UK and Ireland or France with a terrier we have and pass fields with cows on them, and they take no notice even if they had calves, it is when you provoke them, go near or act threatening that is when danger strikes, remember that bigger dogs will be more of a threat to a cow!.
And also cows who don’t rarely see dogs or humans are more weary or afraid, and can be more territorial than those who see people all the time.
Hope this helps! and remember to enjoy the countryside next time you take a walk and take dogs with you! but always use caution when around cows or any other big animals who see dogs as a threat.