In this blog, I try to address the best procedure when walking with your dog, particularly important when crossing unfamiliar landscapes on a dog walking holiday and cattle  may be on the path.

If you are a regular countryside walker with your dog, you will almost certainly have encountered cattle and one of the challenges you will face is how to predict how they will behave.

A BBC podcast I heard recently advises the following principles when dog walking and cattle are nearby:

  • know your route across the field and decide where you are going, so you can take a predictable path which will not alarm the animals
  • try to walk near to a hedge or fence so that you can get close into the hedge if need be. It is probably best to walk around the outside of a group of cattle so they can move off without feeling threatened.
  • if in a group of people, walk together – be ‘big’!
  • don’t run as the cattle are likely to start running as well and they can run fast.
  • stay calm so as not to spook the animals.
  • stay quiet.
  • keep any dogs on a lead so you can control the dogs.
  • Should they be particularly inquisitive- which is generally all that will motivate them to move towards you, a firm ‘shoo’ is usually enough to halt their progress


Clearly it is sensible to keep the dog on a lead so that you can keep it under control and away from the cattle. However, if the cattle see the dog it is important to recognise the signs that it is becoming agitated.


Watch to see if the cow or bull looks up and looks alert or indeed starts nodding its head. This is a sign of aggression and if you see this you should retreat carefully watching it all the time.


Cows are most often aggressive/protective when they are with their new born calves. Do not get between the mother and calf as the mother will get protective as she does not like to be separated.

If you feel the cow or bull is showing all the signs of attacking It is recommended to release your dog from its lead. The cow is most likely to feel threatened by the dog (rather than you) so releasing the dog will separate you from the dog.  Most dogs can run much faster than a cow and you can try to distance yourself from the cow whose attention will be focussed on the dog.  

This chance of being attacked remain very low but it is better to be aware particularly when walking your dog and enjoying the beautiful countryside.

If would you like to discover more of Dorset we can organise wonderful walking holidays for you, for more details please contact Footscape Walking holidays

John Laidlaw