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Dog activity trail unveiled in woodlands

THE FORESTRY Commission has linked up with the Kennel Club to unveil the first ever dog activity trail in any of its UK woodlands in 200-heactare (500 acre) Coatham Wood, near Long Newton, Teesside.

With pipes, tunnels, posts, beams, steps and hurdles located along a one mile trail, it has been designed by agility experts to offer dogs of all sizes a stimulating challenge that’s sure to get tails wagging. The project could also herald similar facilities being installed elsewhere in woods across the nation.

Paddy Harrop, Chief Recreation Manager for England with the Forestry Commission, explained: ‘Many woodland users are dog walkers, so we may be pushing at an open door with this innovative activity trail. The health benefits are not just restricted to the pet, but owners too, who also need regular exercise to keep mind and body together. We have worked closely with the Kennel Club in recent years to make woods more friendly to responsible dog owners and this latest project is one exciting result of this partnership.’

Caroline Kisko, spokesperson for the Kennel Club, said: ‘Alongside walking, there are many ways that owners can stay fit with their dogs and this activity trail is just a taster of what agility is like, one of the many Kennel Club activities that owners and their dogs can enjoy. The beauty of this trail is that it can be enjoyed by all dog owners and all dogs – large or small – and we hope to work with the Forestry Commission to see similar trails set up, across the country.’

About one third of people who visit woods are dog walkers. Three years ago the Forestry Commission sealed an agreement with the Kennel Club to make its 202,000 hectares (500,000 acres) of woodland in England as canine-friendly as possible for dog walkers. Similar agreements have been signed in recent years with mountain biking and horse riding organisations, resulting in better access and facilities. The new agility trail at Coatham will also be used by the Forestry Commission to promote its Walkies in the Woods campaign and Active Woods health push.

Last year the Forestry Commission received the Dog Owners’ Group Recognition Award for ‘a national authority which has made a positive impact to help improve the lives of dogs and their owners.’