Are you unintentionally harming birds on our beaches?

We are incredibly lucky on the Isle of Man to have so many wonderful beaches to enjoy, especially at this time of year when dogs and their owners can exercise on them without any seasonal restrictions.

This is also a time of year when our beaches are home to many visiting shore and sea birds – geese, ducks, gulls and species that many people may struggle to identify such as dunlins, turnstones and ringed plovers.

Our beaches provide a place for them to feed at low tide, roost at high tide, and bathe and drink where streams enter the sea. Many birds will have travelled hundreds of miles to enjoy our warmer, richer waters in winter, with sandy and muddy beaches providing a wealth of food.

Most dog owners would not intentionally harm wild birds, but our winter visitors are being adversely affected by unintentional disturbance from dogs (not to mention avian influenza).

The presence of dogs on a beach, on- or off-lead, causes an instinctive reaction to fly in many birds, especially those that experience predation from Arctic foxes for half of the year.

This repeated disturbance is harmful because it causes birds to use more energy (and essential calories) moving from place to place, and it also reduces their feeding time.

This in turn leads to poor body condition which affects their survival on their long spring migration journeys to the north, and ultimately it compromises their breeding success.

This is a major reason why many populations of wildfowl and shore birds are falling.

Please avoid taking your dog onto an area of beach where there are birds on, or by, the water.

At high tide avoid the upper parts of beaches where shore birds roost, and at lower tides avoid the water line if birds are feeding there.

Hotspots of particular concern, where our winter migrants are seen most often, include the Point of Ayre and beaches in the far north, either end of Castletown beach, Derbyhaven beach, the beach at the bottom of Fishers Hill, and Gansey beach.

One-year-old Cooper loves to go on adventurous walks – be they coastal or inland – and he’s a bundle of energy as you would expect from a young cocker spaniel.

He’s come to us for rehoming because his previous owners feel that he simply isn’t suited to their household, and they believe he needs a more settled environment.

Their view is that he is a ‘one person dog rather than a family dog’.

They are experienced dog owners and they have invested time into Cooper’s training and socialisation, but he now needs more focused behaviour training.

He’s technically still a puppy and so eminently trainable, and he has lots of very positive character traits (he’s friendly towards people he knows and other dogs, he loves to play, he’s great in the house and has good recall when out on walks) but he resource guards.

This means that he is possessive over certain objects, such as his food bowl and bedding, and he growls and barks incessantly if they are taken away from him.

There are many reasons why dogs exhibit this sort of behaviour, and it is a natural canine survival instinct, but it can be modified over time.

Sometimes resource guarding can be due to an underlying medical condition, but Cooper is in excellent health and he has been neutered.

So, do you think you’re the one to help Cooper address his issues – do you have the time and patience needed; and are you looking forward to the amazing feeling you will have once Cooper relaxes and becomes the all-round amazing dog he’s destined to be?

If you are, please e-mail the kennels team on [email protected].