British dog owners are divided on whether dogs should be walked on or off the lead in public spaces, a survey has found.

The research by specialists in natural health supplements for dogs, Canine Natural Cures, found that 51% of dog owners think that dogs should be kept on leads at all times in public spaces, such as parks, beaches, pavements or even in the countryside if there are others about.

Dogs on Leads

What sparked this research? 

The surprising findings come after two high profile incidents where dogs that weren’t on leads attacked animals. This sparked fierce debate about lead use among dog owners.

In one incident, Comedian Russell Brand’s dog attacked a wallaby. In another, a seal nicknamed Freddie Mercury was mauled near Hammersmith Bridge by a dog belonging to QC Rebecca Sabben-Clare.

Dogs on Leads

What did the survey say?

The survey studied the dog walking behaviours and attitudes of nearly 200 dog walkers across the country.

Thirty per cent of the respondents also said they never or rarely walk their dogs off the lead – irrespective of where they are walking or whom they might meet.

Respondents were also asked if their dogs had ever worried livestock or wildlife. Almost 20% admitted that their dog had, even though 77% said their dogs always or mostly came back when they are called.

Aisling Armitage, the co-founder of Canine Natural Cures, said:

“Whilst it would seem that most dog owners do feel that they have control over their dogs, anecdotally many admit that the lure of running deer, sheep or birds may cause their dogs to forget their manners on occasion. For this reason, dog owners should remain vigilant on a walk at all times.”

Dogs on Leads

Where are dogs off their leads?

The most popular location for a dog walk is not surprisingly the countryside (58%) where people are more inclined to let their dogs off the lead provided they are alone. Lead walkers are more likely to walk in the town (32%) versus 5% of off-lead walkers. Twenty four per cent go to the park and enclosed fields are popular among 16%.

Enclosed fields are usually privately owned and hired out on an hourly basis. Dog walkers typically pay between £8-10 per hour for use of the field. Increasingly dog owners with aggressive dogs, dogs that have behavioural issues or owners with multiple dogs prefer the security of walking in an enclosed field where they know that their dogs are safe.

Finally, most people spend at least 30 minutes per day walking their dog irrespective of whether their dog is walked on or off the lead. Forty-two per cent spend 30 minutes to an hour walking their dog and 49% spend over an hour per day walking their dog. Approximately 10% exercise their dog for less than half an hour per day.

For the full results of the survey, see