London's best walkies
Living in the big city doesn’t mean our pet dogs only get to walk on pavements and in busy built up areas. The capital has so much green space to offer and what better way to get out and explore than during walkies with your furry friend.
Hampstead Heath lies within north London and has incredible views across the modern architecture of the city from the top of Parliament Hill, more affectionately known as ‘Kite Hill’ and where you can socialise your dog to the sights of kite flyers on windier days. It’s also the perfect picnic spot for some food-manners and settle training! There are also cafes at Parliament Hill, Kenwood House and Golders Hill Park for more settle and politeness around people/food practice – as we always train our dogs to cope with real life!
The Heath has a lot to offer in terms of variety of environment – from woodland to open grassland, hills and ponds. Enjoy playing hide and seek with your dog while practicing your recall in wooded areas and across grassy hillsides - if you’re as old as me just imagine the theme tune from TV’s Black Beauty while your dog comes running happily towards you.
See our other blogs for some ideas of games to play outside with your dog – you’ll find plenty of opportunities here.
With so many beautiful views why not take this great opportunity to practice your ‘wait’ or ‘stay’ exercise – teaching your dog to sit or stand still while you move away from him and wait patiently for you to return with a treat. I’ve found this very useful in being able to get some lovely photos of Coco sitting in front of various landmarks and landscapes!
There’s also wildlife in abundance – look out for woodpeckers, elusive jays and parakeets as well as butterflies galore in the meadows. There’s ample opportunity for you and your dog to experience new sights, sounds and smells – which is what a good walk should be about – as well as being active too.
There are swimming opportunities for doggies with designated areas at Pond One (near the base of Parliament Hill) and at the Vale of Health Pond; and for humans (wild swimming with designated male, female and mixed bathing houses, as well as a lido at Parliament Hill). But of course be sensible about safety and also watch out for dangerous blue-green algae at certain times of the year. During summertime dogs are at risk of grass seeds becoming embedded in their skin or stuck in their ears so it’s always useful to examine your dog after a good walk – and an opportunity to practice the handling skills we teach in our courses. Remember to always give your dog a treat whenever you’re examining him in any way so he pairs being closely handled and peered at with something tasty… so it’s well worth him letting you look all over his body!
There are bins everywhere for poo-bags to go in so you don’t need to carry them around with you. Be aware that on lovely days the Heath is a lovely place for families and picnickers so you might need to invest in a long-line (an extra long soft lead) to protect peoples’ food if your dog, like our Coco, has a penchant for sausage rolls, sandwiches and cake! There are also joggers and cyclists to take care around so why not book a training course or organise a recall training session with us if your dog needs a little extra practice!
Refreshments and toilets
There are toilets and cafes at Parliament Hill, Kenwood House and Golders Hill Park.
Surely no doggy walk is complete without the obligatory pub lunch? We see this as a valuable socialisation opportunity of course – teaching our dogs to settle and be calm amongst people and food!
Many dog-friendly pubs surround the Heath: click here for a map.
Non-doggy-related things to do for the rest of the family while you walk
The Heath has lots of attractions for humans such as the National Trust museum/stately home and tea rooms at Kenwood House, a family zoo and butterfly house in Golders Hill Park along with a listed pergola and stunning garden, Hampstead and Highgate villages for shopping and an athletics track near the lido at Parliament Hill. Swimming opportunities are also available across the Heath. For more information, click here.
Click here for how to get there.
Please share your pics and clips of your dogs enjoying themselves on the Heath – we hope they have as wonderful a time as our Coco here - you can tweet us @dogschoollondon or Instagram us @dogschoollondon or tag us #dogschoollondon.