Police Scotland’s Tayside Division has issued a particular warning about an increased risk of dogs coming into contact with livestock and that sheep worrying is an offence which can lead to prosecution for dog owners and tragic consequences for their pets.
While access rights apply to people walking dogs, they must keep their dogs under proper control.
A spokesperson said: “Some novice hillwalkers who are dog owners may be ‘finding their feet’ in terms of understanding how to control their animals in huge open hill areas.
“Dog owners are reminded that sheep worrying is an offence, for which you may be prosecuted.
“Even if your dog is usually obedient and good around other animals, all non-working dogs should be kept on a lead around livestock at all times.
“Remember that even if you can't see livestock, if you are walking in the hills, you can expect livestock to be around.”
While instances of livestock worrying are quite rare, there have been cases in some glens areas.
The spokesperson continued: “There are obvious financial repercussions to farmers when sheep are lost to attacks, but there is also the risk of a dog going missing or becoming injured in the terrain too.
“Farmers are legally entitled to protect their livestock which can result in the destruction of a dog by shooting it.
"While no farmer wishes to resort to this option, and thankfully it doesn’t happen often, it has been necessary for this action to be taken before.”
Walkers are also being recommended to read the Scottish Outdoor Access Code before heading out into the countryside.
It sets out the wider responsibilities of anyone who accesses Scotland’s open spaces as well as specific advice on walking dogs on agricultural land , as well as in areas where nesting birds are found and in recreational areas which are being used by others.
The full code can be found at www.mygov.scot/scottish-outdoor-access-code.