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Take the Lead

Lots of you visit the South Downs National Park because it is a great place to walk your dog. There’s lots for them to explore including heathlands, forests, farmland and historical sites.

Responsible dog walkers are very welcome in the South Downs National Park. Taking responsibility for your dog is especially important in spring when young livestock are particularly vulnerable. The South Downs is also home to many ground-nesting birds, and any disturbance can stop a successful brood. If you see signs asking you to keep your dog on the lead, please do so.

This year, real South Downs dogs star in our Canine Confessions films, where reformed roguish hounds share their stories. We’ve also put together the #TakeTheLeadTo photo competition with a chance to win some great prizes, and a map of stunning walking locations to inspire you to get out and about in the South Downs National Park.


  1. Take the lead. Free-roaming dogs can harm and kill livestock and wildlife – or stray into dangerous territory.
  2. Scoop the poop. Dog poo contains worms and diseases that can harm wildlife, humans and the environment.
  3. Avoid the red flags. Ministry of Defence (MOD) land is free to use at certain times, but when red flags are flying, stay away!
  4. Don’t scare the birds. Ground-nesting birds love our heathlands but curious dogs can scare birds, causing them to abandon their nests and their young. Stick to the paths, especially between 1 March – 15 September.


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