England begins second lockdown, here are the rules for walking dogs

England entered its second lockdown today in an aim to slow down rising Covid-19 cases across the UK.

The lockdown includes new restrictions that extend until 2 December 2020 when the lockdown is lifted.

But until then the UK government says you must:

  1. Stay at home, except for specific purposes
  2. Avoid meeting people you do not live with, except for specific purposes
  3. Close certain businesses and venues

But what does this mean for those of us with dogs?

According to government regulations, those of us with dogs are indeed able to walk them outside during the lockdown. The government advises those who are walking their dogs to maintain social distancing and safety measures including keeping two meters apart. For those who may have symptoms of Covid-19, the government says they must self-isolate and have someone else walk their dog for them.

Dog parents are able to walk their dogs as many times as needed, but social distancing guidelines should be adhered to.

Other guidelines included within the government regulations include having dog parents consider keeping their pets on a leash if they are walking them in areas where there are other people, in order to make sure they can follow two meter social distancing.

Dog walking (Photo by Johann from Pexels)

What about driving somewhere to walk your dog?

The government is asking people in England to avoid traveling in or out of your local area, and to reduce the number of journeys you make. People from outside Wales are no longer allowed to travel into Wales unless it’s essential eg for work or returning home.

Across the UK, there are different restrictions in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The Blue Cross has broken down these restrictions.

In Wales, pet parents can only exercise their dog within the area that they live in due to current firebreak restrictions.

In Northern Ireland, pets parents should avoid any unnecessary travel, so it is advised to try to stay local to walk your dog.

In Scotland, whether you travel depends on your local protection area level.

Restrictions may vary in certain areas within England as there are tier two and tier three alert areas. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may also have certain varying restrictions across certain areas so pet parents should check locally for specific information.

Can someone join you on your dog walk?

Dog parents will only be able to exercise outdoors with the people they live with, their support bubble, or one person from another household. Social distancing guidelines should be adhered to.

In Wales, dog parents will only be able to go on a dog walk with a member of their own household.

In Scotland, the number of people that one can meet outdoors depends on their local protection area level.

In Northern Ireland, outdoor gatherings in public places must be limited to 15 people.

Going for a walk (Photo by Jose Raul from Pexels)

Other pet services and questions

Government regulations for England allow travel not only for the care and exercise of a pet, but also for veterinary services.

Guidelines in Wales say that dog parents should only seek treatment for their pets if it’s urgent and cannot wait until after 9 November. They recommend speaking to a vet.

It’s a good idea to call up your vet and ask them if you are allowed to book an appointment, if needed, during the lockdown.

The government’s rules also state that dog walkers are still operating throughout the lockdown and is considered an essential service.

There is currently limited guidance on whether or not dog groomers will be able to continue to operate during the lockdown. The Pet Industry Federation is currently seeking clarity on the issue.

At the dog groomer (Rocky the Traveller)

Meanwhile, pet supplies retailer Pets at Home will remain open and some of its shops also have a grooming center which would be used for ‘essential grooming’. Other pet shops will also remain open in England.

For those who are unable to walk their dog much during the lockdown or feel their dog may become bored at home, here are 9 fun activities that will keep them entertained during the lockdown.



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