DOGS could be killed just for going near a sheep - even if they don’t chase or attack them.
This warning is part of a campaign launched today by the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime.
The campaign seeks to highlight to dog owners the devastating effects of livestock worrying.
Inspector Jane Donaldson, Police Scotland’s rural crime coordinator, said: "Significant damage can be caused by a dog simply being present in a field.
"Pregnant ewes can abort their lambs, while lambs can be separated from their mothers, causing distress and malnutrition.
"The advice to anyone walking and exercising their dogs in the countryside is to ensure they are under control at all times and to avoid going into fields where livestock are grazing."
The launch of the campaign has been timed in preparation for the spring lambing period, when sheep are at greatest risk.
Theresa Kewell of Scottish Natural Heritage said: "We may not think our family pet is capable of causing injury, but it’s a dog’s natural instinct to chase.
"So think ahead about what might tempt your dog to run off, and make sure you keep them under proper control, with a short lead when necessary.
"We’d also encourage farmers and land managers to download signs from the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website to make it clear to dog walkers what areas they should avoid."