Dogs at Earth Trust

Everything you need to know

Earth Trust is a great place to bring your dog, and they are welcome to join you in many areas. We want to ensure all our visitors enjoy our spaces, dogs included. The safety of our livestock, resident wildlife, guests and staff is our priority, so please do take responsibility for your dogs.

Can I let my dog off the lead on Earth Trust sites?

Yes, unless there is signage in the area asking you to keep your dog on a lead. You are welcome to let your dog run free, however, if recall is not reliable please use a lead at all times.

There are a number of reasons for this around being considerate to wildlife, crops and other visitors. Even if it seems like there is nothing or no one nearby, there could be a school trip, ground nesting bird or excitable dog just around the next corner.

Is my dog allowed to swim in ponds and lakes?

No. The majority of our ponds are vital wildlife habitats, often home to rare species like great crested newts or nesting waterfowl, and dogs can be unintentionally damaging when they access water or disturb birds (leading to them abandoning their nests). In addition, certain water bodies can be susceptible to algal blooms in the summer which can be fatal to dogs.

In Little Wittenham, if your dog enjoys swimming they can access the Thames via Church Meadow.

If you have recently treated your dog with flea or tick medication please remember to keep them out of ALL water sources for 24-48hrs (check the pack for specific details) as these chemicals can be incredibly harmful to aquatic wildlife.

Where are livestock currently grazing at the Earth Trust?

There are currently cows grazing on the Wittenham Clumps.

Can I walk my dog through an area where cattle are grazing?

Yes, however you must keep your dog on a lead. Dogs and livestock are both naturally curious but it’s well known that they don’t always mix; inquisitive dogs can spook sheep or cattle, even when they mean them no harm, and even the most even-tempered livestock can be unpredictable. The Ramblers Association have come up with some top tips for walking near cattle:


  • Stop, look and listen on entering a field. Look out for any animals and watch how they are behaving, particularly bulls or cows with calves.
  • Try to avoid getting between cows and their calves.
  • Be prepared for cattle to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you.
  • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd.
  • Keep your dog close, on a short lead, and under effective control.
  • Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock.
  • Report any frightening incidents.


  • Don’t hang onto your dog if you are threatened by cattle – let it go as the cattle will chase the dog and not you.
  • Don’t put yourself at risk by walking close to cattle.
  • Don’t panic or run – most cattle will stop before they reach you; if they follow just walk on quietly.

Why are footpaths closed when sheep are grazing?

We will generally close a footpath that runs through a meadow being grazed by sheep (usually for 4-6 weeks at a time). We understand that the majority of dogs would not cause a problem but sheep are nervous animals and to be on the safe side we tend to keep them apart. We apologise for the inconvenience this causes and aim to give advance warning of any closure plus alternative routes.

Is my dog welcome at Earth Trust events?

Unfortunately dogs are not allowed at the majority of our events. It would not be appropriate for a dog to accompany you to many events – for example our Lambing festival where ewes could be easily distressed by the presence of a dog, or on a wildlife walk, where the dog may disturb the wildlife you have come to see. However, at some of our smaller drop-in sessions it may be acceptable to bring a dog, providing you keep to the back of the group and have the dog on a lead at all times

The exception is assistance/guide dogs, who are, of course, welcome.

Please get in touch if you are thinking about bringing a dog to an event.

Where are dog poo bins located on Earth Trust nature reserves?

There is a bin near the Clumps car park, one at Neptune Wood, and at Wallingford Castle Meadows. If there is no dog poo bin on your route you must take the bag away with you and dispose of it at home or in any litter bin.

Why do I need to pick up dog poo in the countryside?

People sometimes think they don’t need to pick up dog poo when they are out in the countryside. We ask that you pick up after your pet for several reasons:

  • We have a huge number of visitors to our reserves who don’t want to be looking down at the ground watching their step when they could be admiring the glorious views.
  • Earth Trust welcomes thousands of school children each year to take part in outdoor activities such as sweep netting through long grass, looking under hedges for wildlife or scavenging sticks for den building and fire lighting. Encountering dog poo can not only be hazardous but also put children off exploring the outdoors.
  • Dog poo in a meadow can contaminate a hay crop, impacting on our farm’s productivity and income.
  • Dog poo contains lots of bacteria that are hazardous to livestock as well as humans, and can carry diseases such as hookworm and roundworm.
  • Dog poo is also toxic to grass, and can cause disease and a decrease in oxygen levels in water, killing aquatic wildlife.

I’m a professional dog walker, can I bring my canine clients to the site?

Yes, however there are some areas of the site that are more appropriate than others, and please ensure you have a good supply of dog poo bags with you! Areas like Neptune Wood are generally quieter and used less by school groups; please remember to check the website and on site signage for any livestock movements or footpath closures. If any business is directly benefitting from access to the nature reserve we would also appreciate a donation to help us look after these special places.