Become the ‘face’ of responsible dog walking

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A competition is underway to identify the ‘face’ of responsible dog walking in the South Downs National Park from 11 May 2014.

The winning owner and pet will walk away with a professional pet photo shoot and photo book worth £200 and supplies from ethical dog food manufacturer, Arden Grange.

New research by the National Park Authority shows that over 90 per cent of dog walkers in the South Downs are frustrated for themselves or others when they see people not picking up after their pet or having the dog under proper control. Meanwhile more than 95 per cent believe that the reputation of responsible dog owners and their dogs are unfairly damaged by the actions of a minority.

Nick Stewart, dog owner and Campaign Manager for the South Downs National Park Authority, said:

“I hate hearing about horrific dog attacks on sheep and wildlife or seeing dog mess left hanging from trees in bags, and feeling like I have to apologise on behalf of the rest of us who are following the country code and keeping our animals under control.

“We want to celebrate the people who behave well and who train their dogs well. The dog walkers who respect the wildlife; the people whose land they benefit from walking on; and the other users of the National Park. The aim of this competition is to find the positive role models who can influence the behaviour of irresponsible dog owners.”

The competition will launch on Sunday 11 May at National Trust’s Woolbeding Dog Fun Day near Midhurst in West Sussex.

Caroline Kisko, Communications Director for the Kennel Club, said:

“The Kennel Club campaigns to promote responsible dog ownership and works with local authorities by helping them organise fun and educational dog event days, where the public can learn about all aspects of responsible dog ownership including access for dog walkers, cleaning up after your dog and the importance of training and microchipping.

“It is really good news that South Downs National Park Authority is proactively encouraging responsible dog ownership. The ‘Take the Lead’ campaign is a fantastic opportunity for local dog owners to get invaluable information on how best to care for their dog, and we would recommend anyone who owns a dog, or is indeed thinking of getting a dog, to attend the launch on May 11th.”

To enter, owners simply need to submit a photo and a paragraph to the South Downs National Park Authority’s Facebook page explaining how and why they are ‘taking the lead’ in the South Downs this spring. Four winning dogs and their owners will then be invited to be film stars and take part in a short documentary style film showing them enjoying the beautiful South Downs and talking responsible dog walking.

The winners will each receive a professional pet photo shoot and photo book containing their favourite images from the shoot worth £200. Campaign partner and ethical dog food manufacturer, Arden Grange, who are based locally in Hassocks will be providing food for the winning dogs to see them though until the autumn. They will also be providing lots of yummy treats as positive rewards for the winning canine companions.

For more information about Take the Lead, the Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Dog Scheme and to enter the competition including full terms and conditions visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/takethelead from 11 May 2014.

Forestry Commission sites such as Friston Forest in the South Downs National Park are great for walking dogs responsibly off-lead but in sight and under control: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/dogs

Report contributed by South Downs national Park.