Friday February 24th 2023
This article has been written by Midlothian Dog Trainer Nick McMechan.
We love our Dogs more than ever these days. In 2021, The Dog’s Trust completed a survey of 345,703 owners about 439,846 dogs across the UK. The survey found that the most popular breeds in the UK that we love include Labradors, Jack Russels and Cocker Spaniels. A massive 85% of owners regularly tell our Dogs we love them and 62% celebrate our Dog’s Birthdays! (My dogs always get Steak and Eggs for their Birthdays, and, yes, I do tell them I love them!)
Here are my three top tips to enjoy your best walks with your Best Friend.
1. Stay Safe
Teaching ‘Sit’ is one of the best things you can do. Teach your Dog to Sit at every kerbside, every time a cyclist or scooter goes by, every time you see another Dog. Reward your Dog with tasty treats for doing this. If you are not yet confident you have great control over your Dog off leash, use a good Harness – I normally recommend the Perfect Fit harness – with a long training line of 20 metres or less. This allows your dog to run about, sniff and explore whilst you can keep them safe.
2. Respect other Dog Owners
Please don’t let your Dog run up to others without full permission of the owner, particularly if that Dog is on lead. If a Dog is on lead, it’s on lead for a reason. Off leash greetings between Dogs are usually better than on leash, but I would advise using the ‘Three Second Rule’ which means allowing your Dog to say Hello to the other Dog for three seconds and then move on.
3. Respect the Land you walk on
Pick up that poo and dispose of it safely and responsibly. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code for Dog Owners has great advice as well. In Scotland you have the ‘Right to Roam’ but there are exclusions such as fields with Cattle, Seeded Fields, Private Gardens and School Grounds to name a few (yes, that’s right, you may be inadvertently breaking the law by walking your Dogs on School Playing Fields). The best advice I can give is to treat the land as if it were your own.
So, here are my five best places to walk your Dogs in Midlothian.
Dalkeith Country Park
A firm favourite with many owners. There are lots of beautiful woodland walks, the land is very well maintained and there are loads of poo bins all-round the park. There is plenty of parking and lots of amenities nearby in the town centre of Dalkeith
Did you know the Estate is owned by the Buccleuch Family and that the 5th Duke of Buccleuch was one of the first to import the now ubiquitous Labrador from Newfoundland in Canada to the UK in the 1830s, nearly 200 years ago
Restoration Yard in the park is great and the outside seating is a great place to teach your Dog to be calm and settled when there are lots of distractions going on, as well serving fantastic breakfasts for you. Water bowls are provided for Dogs to refresh themselves after a great run around
The open areas around the park allow you walk with plenty of space if you have a nervous dog.
We’re very lucky to have these right on our doorstep in Midlothian. So, when the Weather Permits, get the Walking Boots on and have a great day out with your Dog
The views are fantastic, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed many a walk over the Hills.
Always respect the land, there are many Sheep roaming free so you may need to invest in a harness and training line for you to both enjoy the walk to its full. If in doubt, please always keep your Dog on leash
The Flotterstone Inn can be a lovely place to finish after a long Ramble across the Hills and they welcome all friendly dogs.
Did you know there are 14 peaks across the Pentlands, the highest being Scald Law at 579 metres?
Vogrie Country Park
This is lovely park with enjoyable walks through woodland areas which your Dog will love.
The park has good facilities including Toilets, a Café and good Parking.
A small herd of deer does frequent the Park, particularly at quiet times, so please keep your dogs close to you for a quick recall if needed
Did you know you can hire Events areas for a BBQ at the park?
A beautiful walk, the beauty of all four seasons of the year are well enjoyed around the Glen.
With well-maintained pathways for you to walk along there’s plenty of fun for your Dog to explore, from running up and down the slopes of the Glen to splashing about in the Gore Water, generally having a great time and getting mucky!
Did you know that in 1749 the first Gunpowder Mill in Scotland opened in Gore Glen. The Alder tree still dominates there and was a key ingredient in Gunpowder production?
Lord Ancrum’s Wood
Know well by the locals, a hidden gem to people from outside the area.
Starting a Newbattle Abbey College there are energetic walks with short steep slopes , through the Wood, where the Trees having been growing on the banks of the South River Esk for thousands of years
Every time I visit, I make a mental note to myself to visit more with my Dogs
Did you know Newbattle Abbey was gifted to the Nation in 1937 by the Kerr Family, the Marquises of Lothian who own the title ‘Lord Ancrum’?
Nick McMechan is a Dog Trainer who owns Esk Valley Dog Training, based in Dalkeith and covering Midlothian, some of South Edinburgh and some of East Lothian. Nick’s Clients describe him as friendly, knowledgeable and reliable.
Nick specialises in Loose Leash Walking and Reactivity as well as everything you would expect from a great Dog Trainer. You can find out more here: eskvalleydogtraining.co.uk
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