Dog training courses to help keep livestock safe on the Malvern Hills and Commons are due to restart this month.
The 'Sheep Safe' classes are run by a local dog behaviourist to teach dog owners how to encourage their pet to ignore livestock and reduce the chances of sheep worrying.
Beck Baker, Community and Conservation Officer, said ‘Sadly, dogs chasing and attacking sheep is a common occurrence on the Malvern Hills and Commons.’
‘We’d like to remind dog walkers that any dog, big or small, docile or aggressive, has the potential to chase or kill livestock so all dogs should be kept on a lead near grazing cattle and sheep. The simple solution of putting a dog on a lead will help keep sheep and lambs safe.’
'The Sheep Safe courses are a good way of teaching dog walkers how to handle a situation when they might unexpectedly come across livestock on the Hills and Commons but we would encourage people to put their pet on a lead whenever they are near the cattle and sheep.'
To help dog walkers avoid the livestock or prepare to encounter livestock, the Malvern Hills Trust provides a weekly Stockwatch update with the locations of sheep and cattle within temporary electric fencing on the Hills and Commons.
How to book
The first 6-week Sheep Safe course is fully booked, but more courses are planned throughout the summer and details about the courses will be available online. Classes are run by local dog behaviourist Sue Harper and are being held in line with current Government guidance.
Beck added ‘It is a criminal offence for a dog to worry livestock, which includes chasing, and we may report incidents to the police. This may result a dog being destroyed and fines for the dog owner. To be safe, always put your dog on a lead near grazing livestock.’
It should be noted that the Malvern Hills and Commons are registered common land so dog walkers should expect to encounter livestock anywhere at any time.
Livestock are an essential part of the management of the Malvern Hills and Commons. The cattle and sheep eat the bramble, scrub and young trees and this maintains the open grassland habitat. This keeps the landscape special and benefits the geology, archaeology, wildlife, and the access and views for visitors.