THE National Sheep Association (NSA) is reminding dog owners to act responsibly if choosing to get out and enjoy the countryside, as British summertime officially began this weekend.

The clocks moved forward on Sunday, but while the weather is improving springtime traditionally sees an increase in cases of sheep worrying by dogs. Reports cause significant welfare concerns for sheep and serious upset to sheep farmers whose flocks are affected.

“Sheep worrying by dogs is a very serious problem for farmers; the NSA continues to hear of a frustratingly high number of dog attacks on livestock on a very regular basis,” said NSA communications manager Katie James.

“And at this time of year when many heavily pregnant ewes and/or ewes with young lambs at foot can be found in fields across the UK the risk to flocks is increased further with devastating attacks potentially causing sheep to miscarry their lambs or cause lambs to become separated from their mothers.”


The NSA is urging all dog owners to keep their dogs on a lead and under control when walking in areas where sheep could be nearby and avoid walking closely to them if at all possible. Dog owners are reminded that they may not consider their dog capable of causing suffering by barking, chasing and attacking sheep, but it is an instinctive response so it is crucial to take steps to prevent this.

“We do not want to discourage dog owners from enjoying the beautiful countryside we are lucky to have around us, only to do so responsibly and consider the impact an attack can have on farmers' business and livelihood, the welfare of sheep and potentially the welfare of their much loved dog also,” added Mrs James.

As part of its ongoing work to highlight the issue of sheep worrying by dogs, the NSA is also asking for the nation’s sheep farmers themselves to help by sharing their own experiences of sheep worrying in its annual survey on the topic.

By providing an up to date insight on the continued impact on the UK sheep industry it is hoped the survey results will help the NSA to continue to raise awareness of these incidents and find ways of improving education, guidance and cooperation to the general public. The survey can be completed on the NSA website by visiting