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Dog walker on a forest trail.

Dog walkers: who are they?

The reasons why individual people have dogs are unique; reliable assumptions about visitors’ behaviours or needs cannot be made from their background, age, type of dog, time of visit or disability.

Dog-owning visitors will therefore include people who are:

  • From all socio-economic backgrounds, although dog ownership is highest amongst C2DE groups.
  • Parents - dog ownership is higher for those professionals and skilled people with families.
  • Seeking the companionship of other dog walkers.
  • Avoiding other people if they own dogs that are recovering from injury, being trained or have behavioural issues.
  • First-time visitors stopping off after a long car journey.
  • Daily visitors living nearby without access to a car.
  • Needing access before dawn and after dusk in winter.
  • Very active people involved in dog sports.
  • More sedentary people whose only exercise is dog walking.

As with people who do not desire contact with dogs for personal or cultural reasons, dog owners cannot be assumed to want frequent or uninvited interactions with other dogs either. Active management of sites providing informed choice can minimise such conflict.