Watch out for the Cows

Advice for Dog Walkers with Cows

Continuing on the bovine theme just some thoughts on walking with dogs around cows.  There have been a worrying number of stories in the press this year about various “killer cows” attacking walkers especially dog owners. Again I don’t pretend to have all the answers but can only share my experiences of walking in the Lake District with plenty of cows of varying degrees of psychotic tendencies. 

The first point to make is the obvious one – which is try and avoid fields with cows in that have very young calves full stop. However don’t think that the protective tendencies of cows to their young diminuish too much with age, as if you get between a cow and it’s offspring you will upset them even when you think the calf is old enough to start breeding itself!

So what advice can I give. Well in my experience the top tips are as follows:

  • If you can avoid the cows then do – try and keep at least 30 feet away from them and keep your dog on the lead with you if you are at a safe distance
  • If you can’t avoid them then walk confidently towards them. If this is your first “meeting” with them try it for the first time with the dog off the lead. Cows are wary of humans and if you are confident and purposeful they are less likely to attack.
  • If your dog is well trained enough send he or she off around the cows while you stride through the middle of them and you can meet up on the other side and congratulate yourselves on your masterful management of the situation
  • If  you tell your dog to do something like that and he/she looks at you like you’re from Mars (as mine does) and then promtply either runs straight at the cows or runs back the way you came, then put them on a short lead and again walk through the cows in a strong and purposeful manner. I find I sometimes have to shout in a “dominant and agressive” manner at certain cows to ensure they keep their distance!
  • What to do if the cows come at you (and believe me they can move at speed). DONT PANIC. For me actually moving towards them waving my arms and shouting tends to put them back in their place. If you run away chances are they’ll follow you and outrun you
  • Should I worry about  the Bull? Well again in my limited experience I’ve never seen the Bull do anything other than lounge around and let the cows do all the hard work. Having said that I’ve also always said to myself that if the bull ever does start coming towards me then I’m going to get away as fast as possible!!

So there it is for what it’s worth. If anyone else has any top tips on dealing with feral cows then let me know!

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3 Responses to Watch out for the Cows

  1. Paul Moran says:

    I & my wife have both recently completed the dovedale dipper walk(26.5 miles around derbyshire)
    where we had to cross fields with cows in with our dog a border collie, after being chased by the cows(we had already been advised by the events organisers to let the dog of the lead when near cows)
    we then figured out that it was best for one of us to cross the field 1st & then shout the dog across (intelligent as she is,she thinks the cows want to play) this ensured that the dog was out of the field in the shortest possible time, I understand that this advice is only any good if there aretwo or more of you, but hope it helps anyway.

    • helvellyn says:

      Hi Paul
      Many thanks for the comment. Good advice. Bizarrely this season I have found with one of my local herd of cows they are actually much better if I keep my Labrador on the lead – to the point where I can now walk straight through the middle of them with no problems. The moment I let him off the lead they start chasing him. Conversely the other more aggressive herd I meet will go for us both if he’s on the lead so I always let him off and do a similar thing to you – walk through them and then call him through or round. Anyway thanks again and all the best!

  2. Pingback: Morgan’s Favourite Lake District Walks | Helvellyn's Blog

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