Dog Friendly Cairngorms

You and your furry friend can help to protect and preserve our Park

The Cairngorms National Park is full of wonderful walks you can take with your four-legged best friend, partly thanks to Scotland’s generous ‘free to roam’ laws.

Not only that, there’s plenty of accommodation and pubs that will welcome dogs, too, as well as vets and pet supply shops. 

Dog walking in Braemar
Two hillwalkers and their dogs enjoy the Braemar countryside, The Cairngorms National Park ( photo:VisitScotland)

But it’s vital that you and your dog leave no trace of where you’ve been and that your dog is under your control at all times, so that you can keep enjoying these free access privileges. 

The Cairngorms has a unique and celebrated animal population which dogs can potentially upsets – such as the reindeer and rare birds, such as the ptarmigan and dotterel on higher ground. Grounding nesting birds are particularly prone to disturbance and, if scared off the nest by a dog, can abandon their eggs and vulnerable chicks, leaving them at the mercy of predators and harsh weather. The Park is, for example, a stronghold for the capercaillie, one of the most iconic birds here and also one of the most threatened by recreational disturbance.

“Grounding nest birds, like the ptarmigan, dotterel and capercaillie, are particularly prone to being disturbed by dogs and could potentially abandon their young as a result…

We’ve outlined some guidelines below, taken from the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, but for more please see the section specifically for dog walkers, see here).

One important point to note is that different land owners have different rules on dog access, so please look out for any signs and use common sense, respecting wild animals, birds, livestock and other people.

Dog walking at the Uath Lochans
Dog walking at the Uath Lochans

How to be a responsible dog walker:

  • Don’t take your dog into fields where there are lambs, calves or other young animals
  • Don’t take your dog into fields of vegetables or fruit unless you are on a clear path, such as a core path or right of way, but keep your dog to the path
  • Never let your dog worry or attack farm animals
  • If you go into a field of farm animals, keep as far as possible from the animals and keep your dog on a short lead or under close control
  • If cattle react aggressively and move towards you, keep calm, let the dog go and take the shortest, safest route out of the field
  • During the bird breeding season (usually April to July), keep your dog under close control or on a short lead in areas such as moorland, forests, grassland, loch shores and the seashore
  • Pick up and remove your dog’s faeces if it fouls in a public open place or where there is a risk to farming interests
  • Some reservoirs and streams are used for public water supply. If there are intakes nearby, keep your dog out of the water
  • In recreation areas and other public places, avoid causing concern to others by keeping your dog under close control

The Cairngorms National Park loves dogs and has many services and activities for them

There are many services for pets locally.

You can also search the accommodation pages for dog friendly places to stay.


1. Strathspey Veterinary Centre

Forest Road, Grantown on Spey T. 01479 872252

2. Davidsons Chemists and Vet Supplies

10 Bridge Street, Royal Deeside, Ballater T. 013397 55409

3. Morven Veterinary Practice Ltd

24 Golf Road, Royal Deeside, Ballater T. 01339755134

4. Strathspey Veterinary Centre

Unit 8, Dalfaber Industrial Estate, Aviemore T. 01479 872252

Kennels / catteries:

1. Birchmoor Cattery and Kennels

Tomintoul Road, Grantown-on-Spey PH26 3NN T. 01479 872 386

2. Hilltop Kennels

Balnought Keepers Cottage, Dulnain Bridge T. 01479 851330

Pet shops:

1. Pampered Pets

3A Myrtlefield, Aviemore T. 01479 780488

#VisitCairngorms to join locals and visitors on their own journey of discovery!

Join our Mailing List

Sign up to get notified of the latest deals, news and all the latest information direct to your inbox.