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NEWS RELEASE No: 1624715 APRIL 2014

Dog owners urged to take Walk Your Dog Week challenge

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Monday 28 April – Bank Holiday Monday 5 May 2014

Dog owners are being challenged to walk their pet every day during Walk Your Dog Week, a new campaign spearheaded by Forestry Commission England and supported by some of the UK’s top dog charities.

It is estimated 35 per cent of UK dogs (2.7m) do not get daily supervised exercise and that one third of pets are overweight as a result of their owners' sedentary lifestyles. According to the Kennel Club, the government’s recommendation that people should get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day could be achieved on a daily dog walk , so people are being urged to match this during their excursions with their pet.

Walk Your Dog Week aims to encourage people to tackle these issues by heading outside more often with their dogs to improve their pet’s health and condition. Held from Monday 28 April to Bank Holiday Monday, 5 May 2014, the event has the backing of the PDSA, the Kennel Club, Dogs Trust and Yellow Dog UK.

The Walk Your Dog Week challenge, for owners to walk their dog every day during the week, including time off the lead when appropriate, has been developed with vets at the PDSA to stimulate a change amongst dog owners to help transform the health and wellbeing of their dogs.

Simon Hodgson, Forestry Commission England’s Chief Executive, says:

“We’re calling on dog owners up and down the country to take the Walk Your Dog Week challenge and help your dog get fit.
“A change of scene can be a great boost to motivation, so we’re recommending dog walkers head for one of our 1,500 woods and forests for locations that your dog and family can enjoy.

“They are the perfect place for dogs to get supervised exercise, including time off the lead, and explore the natural environment.”

Forestry Commission sites offer great opportunities to exercise dogs off the lead (provided the pets are under control so they can enjoy woods and forests alongside wildlife and other visitors), which means canine companions and their owners can really take the opportunity to get some great exercise.

To help dog-owners make the most of their visits, Forestry Commission England has published the Ruff Guide to the Forest, offering local information on dog-friendly activities in more than 35 woods and forests and their surrounding areas. Many of these woods and forests have dog agility trails and way-marked trails that offer physical challenges for dogs and owners.

According to recommendations from the Kennel Club, a dog’s exercise needs vary according to the breed and the pet’s age, but every dog should have at least one walk a day, often two.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, says:

“Walk Your Dog Week very much fits in with the Kennel Club’s promotion of responsible dog ownership and we are thrilled to be able to support it. The campaign encourages dog owners to get out and about with their four-legged friends, making sure they get an appropriate level of regular exercise, which is a big part of being a responsible owner.

“No matter where you live you are never far from Forestry Commission woodland, so we’d recommend responsible owners make the most of this and go and explore the best of the British countryside with your dog.”

Dogs Trust CEO, Clarissa Baldwin, says:

“As dog owners will know, dog walking can provide many benefits – from improving your fitness and reducing stress to helping you to meet new people. Walk Your Dog Week provides a perfect opportunity to consider how you can add some variety and fun to your dog’s usual walking routine. Dogs love to explore and the nation’s forests provide ample opportunity for your dog to experience a little adventure.”

Elaine Pendlebury, Senior Vet for PDSA says:

“PDSA’s Animal Wellbeing Report for 2013 showed that over a third of dogs do not get daily off-lead exercise, which is why we’re supporting this initiative.

“Walk Your Dog Week gives owners the opportunity to explore beautiful surroundings and provide safe off-lead roaming for their dogs, giving them the chance to stretch their legs, enjoy some important ‘sniff time’ and meet other well-trained dogs. Walking your dog every day is the best way to give your dog the exercise it needs, depending on their health, size and breed – and remember that your vet is available to offer further advice.”

Yellow Dog UK wants to raise awareness that dogs don’t always like to be petted; some need space while training, or when they’re recovering from surgery or becoming rehabilitated. A dog wearing a yellow ribbon or bandana needs to be given a bit more space.

Nikki Parra, Managing Director of Yellow Dog UK said:

“All dogs need exercise, but not all of them are in a position to socialise with other dogs – some may be recovering from illness or being rehabilitated and the aim of our campaign is to ensure that these dogs are given the space they need.

“The Forestry Commission promote responsible dog walking on their sites and our campaign echoes that – we want dogs and their owners to enjoy and make the most of England’s wonderful countryside, whilst ensuring that other dogs are treated with respect. If you see a dog with a Yellow Ribbon or Bandana on please recall your dog.”

Walk Your Dog Week will also launch a range of other special, dog-friendly events available at Forestry Commission sites during the coming months. More information is available at


To enter the challenge:
Twitter: @ForestryCommEng
More information about Paws Outdoors, the challenge and the Ruff Guide is available at

Notes to Editor

Media Contact: or 0117 9066030 Or Spirit Public Relations, 0117 944 1415,

1. 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

2. To celebrate ten years of working together to promote responsible dog walking in UK woods and forests, the Forestry Commission signed a new concordat with the Kennel Club and Natural Resources Wales in March 2014. Find out more at:

3. People are invited to log their dog walking results with the Forestry Commission by sending in their dog’s name, breed, their walk distance, and long it took them to do it. More details can be found at 

4. Forestry Commission Discovery Passes vary in price from £20-£50 for annual membership. For more information visit

5. 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. There’s also an online database where people can check how much exercise their particular breed needs, at the Breed Information Centre website or more information.

6. Founded in 1917 by animal welfare pioneer, Maria Dickin CBE, PDSA is the UK’s leading veterinary charity. Operating through a UK-wide network of 51 PetAid hospitals and nearly 380 PetAid practices (contracted private practices), PDSA provides free veterinary care to the sick and injured pets of people in need and promotes responsible pet ownership. The charity prefers to be known by its initials, PDSA (not the PDSA), in all editorial material, rather than by its full name The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.