Heathland is a habitat of outstanding importance, supporting a range of species which are nationally or internationally rare or endangered. Surrey’s heathlands are home to several species of endangered birds – woodlarks, nightjars and Dartford warblers. All three make their nests and raise their young on or near the ground, potentially from March until August. They can be disturbed by dogs running across the heath, so extra care is needed by dog owners during the spring breeding season to avoid nesting areas. Eggs and young soon die without the protection from their parents. Dogs should be kept to paths and not encouraged into the heather for example to chase sticks or balls during the breeding season.
The Kennel Club and Natural England have produced a guide entitled “You and your dog in the Countryside” (CA205) which provides tips for dog owners on enjoying the countryside with their dog. It is available to download from the Natural England website.