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Forestry Commission England is launching its new Paws Outdoors campaign at Crufts this week (Friday 7 March), supported by the Kennel Club, to encourage more owners to take their dog for a day out in the forest.
The campaign includes the publication of new local dog-friendly guides, a dog-walking awareness week and events at Forestry Commission sites across the country. The search is also on to find a star dog to become the face of the campaign.
The Paws Outdoors campaign is launched as the Forestry Commission, the Kennel Club, and Natural Resources Wales celebrate ten years of working together by signing a new concordat at Crufts to promote opportunities for responsible dog-walking in UK forests (see www.forestry.gov.uk/dogs ).
Now dog owners are being asked to nominate their well-behaved pet as a contender to become the dog face of the Paws Outdoors campaign. Families and owners who think their dog can inspire others to taste the freedom of the forest are asked to email, tweet or post to Facebook a photo with up to 20 words describing why their pet should become top dog.
To help dog walkers to make the most of days out at its sites, the Forestry Commission is publishing its new Ruff Guide to the Forest, a series of lively online guides offering practical, local information on dog-friendly activities in over 35 woods and forests and their surrounding areas.
The Forestry Commission is also announcing England’s first Walk Your Dog Week, which takes place from Monday 28 April to Monday 5 May 2014. The awareness week will encourage dog owners to get into the habit of giving their pets more regular exercise, including time off the leash when appropriate, to improve their health and well-being and reduce dog obesity.
A recent report found that fewer dogs than ever before are getting enough exercise, with 35% of UK dogs (2.7m) not getting daily supervised exercise, an increase of around 600,000 since 2011. This lack of exercise, coupled with poor diets has resulted in obesity levels of around a third in the UK’s dog population .
Forests are already a favourite location for many dog walkers, with over 20 million visits to Forestry Commission sites by dog walkers each year. The Paws Outdoors campaign aims to build on this popularity and will include a number of on-site activities throughout the year. Many Forestry Commission woods and forests have dog agility trails, events and hundreds of way-marked trails that offer physical challenges for dogs and owners.
Simon Hodgson, Forestry Commission chief executive, says:
“We have been working with the Kennel Club for ten years now, and the relationship has been invaluable in ensuring that our forests are attractive and accessible to dogs and their owners. We are delighted to strengthen this bond through the signing of this new concordat.
“Our new Paws Outdoors campaign will help to make our sites even more appealing for dogs and their owners. The Ruff Guide to the Forest, which includes information specific to over 35 Forestry Commission locations, is packed with hints and tips for how to make the most of your local forest and surrounding area, and even includes an introduction by the local rangers’ dogs who have sniffed out every corner of our sites!
“We’re also looking for a star dog to become the face of the campaign so if you think your dog will inspire others to taste the freedom of the forest we’d love to hear from you.”
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, says:
“The Forestry Commission’s Paws Outdoors campaign is a brilliant excuse for dog owners to head outside into the wonderful forest land that we have in this country and have fun with their dogs. There are so many activities for dog owners and their four-legged friends to get involved with in the great outdoors, from activity trails to simply taking a Sunday afternoon stroll, and Forestry Commission land is the perfect place in which to do it.”
“We are thrilled to have welcomed the Forestry Commission to Crufts for the launch of their new campaign, and renewing the concordat between the Kennel Club and Forestry Commission after 9 years of successful operation shows how with good-will and good management, dog walker access can continue to flourish.
Every person in England is never more than a thirty minute drive away from a Forestry Commission woodland. Discovery Pass holders get free parking and discounts at forest fitness classes for a whole year - for less than the average cost of one month’s gym membership.
For more information, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/dogs
To enter the competition to :
The Ruff Guide to the Forest is available at www.forestry.gov.uk/dogs
Notes to Editor
1. Media Contact: Katrina.firstname.lastname@example.org or 0117 9066030 Or Spirit Public Relations, 0117 944 1415, email@example.com
2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/england
3. Forestry Commission Discovery Passes vary in price from £20-£50 for annual membership. For more information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/pass
4. The Forestry Commission works in partnership with the Kennel Club which is the largest organisation in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training. Its objective is to ensure that dogs live healthy, happy lives with responsible owners. The Kennel Club runs a Get Fit With Fido campaign to help people find inspiring ways to get fit with their dogs. www.thekennelclub.org.uk/getfitwithfido