Livestock worrying causes devastating damage, upset and financial loss to farming communities across our countryside.

What is "worrying"?

Everyone who walks or owns dogs in the vicinity of livestock should be aware of the devastation that worrying or attacks by dogs can have on the animals and on the livelihoods of their owners. It should be expected that dogs chasing livestock will cause injury or suffering; in the case of ewes, this can include aborting unborn lambs or loss or reduction in the number of offspring; Dog owners are often told by farmers and locals that this is dangerous and the reply generally is ‘it’s alright my dog won’t hurt them’ or ‘he just wants to say hello’ or ‘she just wants to play’, this of course means nothing to the terrified sheep who often die of fright after being chased.  Not having a dog on a lead or under close control, or in a field or enclosure with livestock can cause undue terror on them.

sheep worrying


Dogs which do not need to be on a lead include:

  • those owned by, or in the charge of the occupier of the land, the owner of the sheep or a person authorised by these people;
  • a police dog;
  • a guide dog for the blind;
  • a trained sheep dog*;
  • a working gun dog* or one of a pack of hounds.

*a working dog needs to be clearly working at the time to be exempt.

Dog walkers and owners can avoid getting into trouble by ensuring that dogs are on leads when anywhere near livestock, a simple precaution that prevents any damage and ensures the dog remains safe too.  Owning a dog comes with responsibility.  

How to report cases of livestock worrying.

Remember livestock worrying is a crime and must be reported to the police in all cases.  

  • Dogs worrying livestock is considered an emergency
  • If it is happening now dial 999 ask for the police and explain there is a dog attacking livestock.
  • To enable your call to be correctly graded, please stress to the operator that there either has been or will be serious damage to livestock. 
  • Provide an accurate location and in remote areas please try to provide a grid reference or a landmark or download the What3Words App  
  • Data from reported incidents create a picture of where incidents are happening; the police can then put in place prevention initiatives, including targeted educational material and signage.  The work on Bodmin Moor is a good example of this.