Walking your dogs near cattle – is it safe?

Last month, a lady dog walker was seriously injured by cows while walking her dog near the village of Sheldon in the Peak District. Few people may realise the dangers of walking in fields where there are cattle – particularly if you have a dog with you.  Holidays4Dogs looks into this subject and offers some advice on walking  dogs near cattle.

This tragedy in the Peak District happened as the woman was walking her dog through a field of cows.

Details of the circumstances are scant, but unfortunately the pet dog was killed. However, in 2005 the Times newspaper reported another incident of a woman walking her dachshund in a Warwickshire field. The poor lady in question, was trampled to death by a pregnant cow.  There were other cows in the field at the same time; many of them with young calves at foot. It is believed the cows were acting in defence of their young, after being alarmed by the presence of the dog.

There are miles and miles of public footpaths in the UK and many of these take the walker through fields full of livestock.  Grazing animals are not usually bothered by passers-by. Nursing mothers and young cattle, however, can be more difficult.

However, there are increasing reports of injuries caused by cattle. The common denominator between incidents seems to be the presence of a dog, or dogs.  The Ramblers Association report that, cattle view the presence of dogs as a threat, particularly if they have calves with them.

Spring and early summer is the time when cattle can feel at their most vulnerable. Many will have new-born calves that the cows will protect. However, any time of the year can be hazardous for dog walkers.

Although, there has been a lot of media coverage over the years, thankfully incidents where cattle have attacked or even killed people and dogs are rare. Nevertheless, it is still important to remain vigilant when walking your dog amongst cattle.

If you must walk through a field of cows, make sure you keep your dog on a short lead.  Livestock worrying is a serious offence. Don’t take the risk.

Move calmly through the field and stick to the path, unless it is safer to walk around a herd. Re-join the path when it is clear. Avoid getting between cows and their calves.

However, IF you feel in imminent danger from the cows, drop your dog’s lead so you can both make your escape separately.  A dog will be able to outrun cattle better than you. Cattle are more likely to chase your dog, rather than you.


If you are at all concerned about how cattle may react to your dog, it may be safer to choose another route or turn around. This is especially so if your dog is young, excitable, or vocal.

If you experience any serious incident, or threat of attack, you can report this to the landowner, the highway authority, the Health and Safety Executive and, in very serious cases, the police.