Dorset dog friendly walks

Historic locations: Kingston Lacy

Coach Carol and her dog Sweep want to tell you about their most favourite walk in Dorset.  Kingston Lacy is National Trust property just north of Wimborne on the B3082 heading towards Blandford Forum.  The property belonged to the Bankes family who also owned a massive estate containing Corfe Castle and Studland (a fabulous dog friendly sandy beach to the west of Poole Harbour).   The house itself has an incredible selection of paintings and beautiful furniture, and at Christmas they decorate the main house with fabulous Victorian Style Christmas trees.  But mostly we go just for the fantastic inner park dog walk!

In total the estate comprises 8,500 acres and includes the wonderful Badbury Rings, an Iron Age hill fort.  The National Trust have produced a nice little map for the inner estate showing all the dog friendly paths.  It’s dogs on lead but it provides a great opportunity for training while you walk, for example, loose lead walking practice, random sits and downs!

The walk starts just at the junction for the shop and café – go straight on at this junction and follow the signs.  It starts along a nice wide grass path (there is also a poo bin here) which enters woodland, you then follow around the outer edge of the formal gardens, with some gorgeous views of the house.  Half way around the walk is an entrance out of the park to the old kitchen gardens where there is a fabulous little shed café that serves great cakes and coffee.

Close up of a dog  

After the kitchen garden, you can re-enter the wooded path which takes you into the more formal gardens and the Hyde Collection (a collection of rhododendrons, azalea and camelia).  Then we arrive at Sweep’s favourite part of the walk, the cedar avenue.  This part is so wide and grassy with a fantastic view towards Kingston Lacy House.  There is a nice bit of shade under the trees to sit and have a picnic, or to give your dogs a breather, and the grass is lush and comfortable!

You then get to go back along the front of the house and back towards the shop (and café ;-))

Sweep enjoys this walk so much, there are lots of smells and we meet some nice polite dogs.  As Sweep is a little nervous we can avoid dog-dog interactions because dogs are on lead.  And I get an added bonus of having the option to café at the start, in the middle and at the end.

As you can see from the picture above, Sweep loves the walk at Kingston Lacy and even more the training practice we do while I eat cake!

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Puddletown Forest

One of my dog Sweep’s favourite walks is Puddletown Forest, just off the A35 between Dorchester and the Puddletown turn off. It offers so many different paths from narrow footpaths to wide forestry tracks, and there are miles and miles to choose from, most offering really nice circular walks back to your car. You can also get there on the back road past our Saturday class venue, Kingston Maurward College!

I think, to be honest Kingston Lacy is my favourite because it has cafés! But Puddletown Forest, this is where Sweep gets to properly be a dog!

We tell people in our classes how important it is to let your dog be a dog and often I use the example of Sweep with the forest in mind! Here, Sweep gets to partake in his most favourite thing in the world – bog snorkelling! It has to be the most optimal mixture of mud to water for him to truly appreciate the bog. If it’s too wet I see the disappointment in his face, if it’s too dry he just gets muddy socks. He digs and digs in the mud and snaps at the water, it’s an incredible sight and one that never ceases to amuse me!

A dog walking through very muddy water  

The bogs are past halfway on the walk so by the time we get to them we have done a nice walk, and we’ve also incorporated some training. Sweep loves to train whenever and wherever!  We practice sits in different places with all the smelly forest distractions, we practice loose lead walking with and without the lead, and of course it’s great practice for our recalls. Sweep also voluntarily comes back to me very regularly so I always reward him for that. I want him to think that when a bog isn’t available, the party is with me! To set us both up for success, however, I don’t try and recall Sweep from his bogs because:

  • It’s number 1 in his top 10 of distractions so chances are he will probably not come back so I’ll be teaching him to ignore his name.
  • By the time we get there, he’s allowed to be a dog because he’s worked hard and deserves an environmental reward!

If you have a bog snorkeller like me, remember to take a towel to Puddletown Forest and make sure you and your dog have fun!

If you would like to find out more about our classes and events, call us on 07392 869380 or 07387 141057. For more fun stuff follow @dogschooldorset on Instagram and Twitter! We also love to see your pictures so don’t forget to tag us in your #muddydog pictures, we’d love to see them!