The Daily Telegraph - Gardening - - Notebook -

let your dog ap­proach other vis­i­tors with­out their per­mis­sion hang dog-mess bags in trees – carry them to the near­est bin leave your dog locked in the car on a warm day let your dog swim in lakes and ponds un­less per­mis­sion has been granted to go can prove com­pli­cated for dog own­ers and as ever it is best to check ahead and read the small print. At Mot­t­is­font in Hamp­shire, for ex­am­ple, the NT web­site seems to trum­pet its dog-friend­li­ness. But closer in­spec­tion re­veals that dogs are not al­lowed into the cel­e­brated rose gar­den, which is the main rea­son to visit in the first place.

Ac­cord­ing to Steve Jenk­in­son, ac­cess ad­viser at The Ken­nel Club, the “least re­stric­tive” ap­proach is best. While he ac­cepts that gar­dens have a right to set their own rules, “we want peo­ple to re­spond in a fair way, rather than just ban dogs. We would like [custodians] to ask the ques­tion, ‘How can we ac­com­mo­date re­spon­si­ble dog own­ers?’ In the end it comes down to how much the prop­erty val­ues its vis­i­tors who do own dogs. Af­ter all, re­stric­tions on dogs are re­stric­tions on peo­ple.”

This sen­ti­ment is cer­tainly fa­mil­iar to those of us who hol­i­day with fam­ily (in­clud­ing dog) any­where in Britain: any his­toric gar­den that does not wel­come dogs can sim­ply be crossed off the list of po­ten­tial out­ings. The al­ter­na­tive is to leave the dog locked in the car in the car park – which I cannot coun­te­nance – and on a hot day could prove fa­tal.

Ul­ti­mately, it seems that any de­ci­sion about dogs has more to do with the at­ti­tudes of those in charge of the gar­den than it does with jus­ti­fi­able con­cerns about the be­hav­iour of dogs and their own­ers.

Jenk­in­son points to a for­mal agree­ment re­cently rat­i­fied be­tween The Ken­nel Club and the Crown Estate (which runs the Val­ley Gar­dens at Windsor). It’s a lengthy and de­tailed doc­u­ment – a kind of Geneva Con­ven­tion for dogs in gar­dens – but is ul­ti­mately ex­tremely dog-friendly. As Jenk­in­son opines, “If it’s good enough for the Queen…”

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