During half term holidays across the UK, the National Sheep Association has reminded those seeking a countryside staycation of the risk to sheep flocks from pet dogs allowed to run free in the countryside.

Sheep farmers up and down the country often report an increase in dog attacks on their sheep during popular holiday periods. With more families still choosing to stay in the UK for an autumn break this year, there are concerns that another spike in attacks is imminent.

While sheep worrying by dogs is a serious issue for sheep farmers at all times, often resulting in injuries and even the death of attacked sheep, during the autumn months, stress on ewes can also inhibit them from becoming pregnant at this important breeding time.

Read more: NSA launches sheep worrying fortnight in bid to crack down on dog attacks on sheep

Preventing such attacks is easy, said NSA chief executive Phil Stocker – dog owners must simply keep their pets on leads whenever sheep could be nearby: “You may not consider your dog capable of chasing and attacking sheep but it is an instinctive response and the stress and injury it can lead to can be absolutely shocking.

“Look out for signs indicating where livestock may be present but if you are in any way unsure whether sheep could be near or not then keep your dog on a lead and under control. Not only are you putting sheep at risk by failing to do this but also potentially the welfare of your own animal.”

Read more: Children to aid in poster campaign to stop dog attacks on sheep

As well as highlighting the issue to dog owners NSA is also encouraging farmers to ensure their signage around farm requesting dogs be kept on leads is easy to view and clear to understand. To help with this NSA has a range of graphics for farmers and others to display that are available to download at www.sheepworrying.org.uk