Walking Dogs Near Cattle – Is It Safe?


Few people may realise the dangers of walking in fields where cattle are grazing – particularly if walkers have a dog with them.  Holidays4Dogs looks into this subject and offers some advice on walking dogs near cattle.

There have been many tragedies of people being injured, or sadly killed, while walking near cattle.

In one such incident in 2005, the Times newspaper reported an incident of a woman walking her dachshund dog near cattle in a Warwickshire field.

The poor lady in question, was trampled 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.

Another similar incident happened in 2019 in the Peak District, as a woman was walking her dog through a field of cows near the village of Sheldon. 

Sadly, the woman was left in a critical condition and her pet dog did not survive.

Fines for farmers and landowners.

However, more recently, the Health and Safety Executive has advised farmers and landowners, not to put cattle with calves at foot in fields where public footpaths run. This is as a result of a farmer having to pay £3,550 in fines and costs after a walker was thrown 8 feet into the air. and trampled by a cow, with a calf at foot. The man sustained broke ribs and damage to his spleen and lungs. The tragedy happened in 2021.

There are miles and miles of public footpaths in the UK and many of these take the walker through fields full of livestock. Nursing cows and young cattle, however, can be more defensive, particularly if there are dogs nearby. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of the dangers when walking dogs near cattle.

The presence of dogs near 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. This is particularly so, 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 fiercely. However, any time of the year can be hazardous for dog walkers.

Although, there has been a lot of media coverage over the years, incidents where cattle have killed people and dogs are relatively 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. Farmers may have a responsibility not to put dangerous animals in fields where there are public footpaths. However, livestock worrying is also 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, i.e. – they have surrounded you, or are charging – drop your dog’s lead. By doing this you can both make your escape separately. Your dog will be able to outrun cattle much faster than you and is more likely to escape injury.


Walking your dog near cattle can be a frightening experience for all concerned. If you are at all concerned about how cattle may react to your dog, choose another route or, turn around.

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. In very serious cases, you can report to the police.