Everything you need to know about dog walking at Wakehurst
Find out where to walk your dog, access information and how we're protecting our plants, wildlife and visitors.
Please note that dogs will be allowed at Wakehurst from 27 February 2023.
At Wakehurst we strive to be as inclusive as possible and want to ensure visitors get the most out of their visit. By welcoming dogs to our garden, we hope people who may not have been able to visit previously may now enjoy our beautiful landscape with their four-legged friends. Please note, dogs are not allowed at Kew Gardens.
Kew Gardens is smaller than Wakehurst and has many more visitors, which means it less suitable for dog walking. There are many places to walk dogs in Richmond Borough including the Royal Parks – Richmond and Bushy – as well as the tow path of the river Thames.
Dogs are welcome every day, please check our website for opening times. Please note, dogs cannot attend certain events such as Glow Wild. Please check the relevant event webpage for more details.
Dogs are welcome in many parts of our wonderful landscape. Please check out our map for designated dog paths and keep an eye-out for signs for areas that we’ve ensured are dog-free. Be sure to visit our new off-lead zone – the perfect place for four-legged friends to roam free and burn off some energy!
No, there is no additional charge to bring your dog to Wakehurst.
Glow Wild, workshops and events that take place in dog-free areas will not be open to dogs. Please check the event webpage for more information.
Wakehurst is an inclusive organisation and destination, so we have identified paths and areas to accommodate both dog walkers and those who would prefer to enjoy the gardens without dogs. We have ensured visitors can access the majority of our 535-acre site with their canine companions, including a range of facilities. With your visit, you are contributing to our critical conservation work and pioneering science research as we combat biodiversity loss – now that's a dog walk with a difference.
We will welcome a maximum of two dogs per adult to enjoy the gardens.
We want everyone to feel safe and welcome at Wakehurst so we have ensured areas of the gardens remain dog-free, such as our children’s play areas, the Stables Kitchen, the American Prairie and Winter / Walled Gardens. Please check our map for more details.
No, all visitors including dogs will enter through the Visitor Centre. At Wakehurst, we have a wide path leading to our spacious Visitor Centre which we hope will help facilitate those who may wish to keep their distance from visiting dogs.
Our team has carefully considered and researched a range of options, using data from our dog walking trials, and internal consultations with our staff, volunteers and schools. Our priority is to remain inclusive to all visitors and to ensure no one is ever turned away, so we have decided dogs are welcome at Wakehurst every day. However, we have designated a significant part of the site as dog-free to provide space for those who are less comfortable around dogs to enjoy the gardens.
In 2019, we held a number of dog walking trials, and worked with an external agency to conduct research with our visitors, staff, volunteers and schools to get a holistic view on the impact of dog walking at Wakehurst. In 2022, we conducted further research with our Wakehurst members to explore what additional benefits our members are keen to enjoy, and the impact they may have on renewing their membership. Both our trials and our member consultations demonstrated a strong desire to welcome dogs into our gardens. We always want our members and visitors to feel heard and believe this new offer responds to their positive feedback and encouragement to introduce dog walking, but equally considers those who may prefer space away from dogs with our dog-free areas.
Dogs are welcome in the Visitor Centre, the Seeds Café and the Stables Pantry. The Stables Kitchen will be a dog-free zone.
We request dog owners refrain from taking their dogs into the toilets with them. If you are visiting alone or are the only adult in your group, you are welcome to ask one of our friendly staff members who may be able to hold your dog for you. Thank you for your understanding.
In order to protect our plant collections and wildlife, we are asking dog owners to keep dogs on designated paths, walkways or grass areas. Dogs are not permitted to walk onto plant beds or borders. We ask all dog owners to use short leads and keep dogs under control at all times. Short leads are available to borrow from our Visitor Centre if required.
We understand concerns with potential dog waste and ask all visitors bringing a dog to pick up any waste. We will have spare bags at the Visitor Centre, in case a visitor finds themselves out of bags, and there will be waste bins provided. All visitors arriving with a dog will be given a map outlining the location of dog waste bins. We understand accidents sometimes happen! If your canine companion makes a mess indoors in our Visitor Centre or Stables Pantry, please speak to a member of staff who can supply cleaning products to help you clear up.
The waste bags handed out at the Visitor Centre are sustainable and we have a dog waste management company on board that will be responsible for emptying the bins on site and disposing of the waste via incineration.
Our canine code outlines that dogs should not be left unattended anywhere on site, including the car park. Staff will be carrying out regular checks to ensure this code is upheld.
We have worked closely with various teams at Wakehurst, including the Learning team, to ensure there is limited impact on visiting schools. The areas where dogs are allowed are largely not in the areas we use for teaching. In our canine code, we outline that dogs should always remain on short leads (except in our off-lead area) and under control and ask visitors to keep their dogs from running or jumping up at anyone, including children.
We continue to monitor for visitors straying off footpaths and into Wakehurst. We will continue to review and explore ways to improve our communication with those using the footpaths.
It is a criminal offence for a dog owner to allow their dog to be dangerously out of control in a public or private place. A ‘dangerously out of control’ dog can be defined as a dog that has injured someone or a dog that a person has grounds to reasonably believe may injure somebody.
It is the responsibility of a dog owner to always have full control of their dog, adhering to our short-lead policy. Wakehurst will refuse entry, or remove, any dog that is thought to be dangerous to visitors, staff, wildlife or other dogs. In the unlikely event that an attack does occur in the gardens, our team will escalate accordingly.
Our Ranger team will be the first point of contact for a stray/missing dog found on site. The team will try to locate the owner and if this fails, the council warden will be contacted. Further advice can be found via the RSPCA website.