I think anyone who has any involvement in the dog world will know exactly where I am going with this post. This topic has been done to death. So, so many people cover it, and yet I find myself with the urge to write this as it’s such an ongoing and incredibly frustrating issue that I encounter on an almost daily basis.
I am in the luxurious position of having my own land in which to exercise my dogs. This makes walking my slightly dog-aggressive dog considerably easier and less stressful. However, there are many occasions when I have to walk my dogs in public places and end up at the mercy of every man and his over-friendly dog. You know the ones I am talking about – that person who is probably having a conversation on the phone, his dog off-lead and miles ahead, paying absolutely zero attention to where his dog is and what his dog is doing. This dog then comes over and causes absolute carnage as it gets its nose up your on-lead dog’s arse and he makes half-hearted attempts to call it away, which it ignores, whilst uttering the words “He just wants to play!”. Sound familiar?
I have generally refrained from talking about the topic. As I said earlier, it has been done to death and it’s hardly like my post is going to be the one that makes this type of person stop, think and then train their dog. But worth a shot, and gives me an opportunity for a ranty blog post! A few posts and comments I have seen recently inspired this. There is a sense of entitlement and lack of respect in a lot of dog walkers. I will try not to generalise, but it’s generally the more typically friendly and sociable breeds owned by generally well-meaning, but sometimes not fully educated dog owners. Unfortunately, not everybody realises that not every dog is friendly. Just like some humans don’t really enjoy social situations, some dogs just don’t like other dogs. Doesn’t necessarily mean they’re nasty and doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t have the right to be walked in public (assuming they are under control, of course, this should go without saying). But we need to start respecting other people more than we do. There have been multiple comments I have seen from owners of friendly dogs, insisting that reactive dogs shouldn’t be walked in public – full stop. As if that is the main issue. Yes, if you know your dog is in some way aggressive or reactive, you should take the appropriate steps and precautions to ensure that your dog is under control and unable to exercise any of the behaviours that may cause something or someone else an injury. However, the owner of a reactive dog has as much right to use public spaces as an owner of a friendly and sociable dog. And this is where respect comes in.
Reactive dog owners need to respect other dog walkers, and the other dog walkers need to respect the reactive dog owners. And that respect can be shown in a number of ways:
– If you see a dog on the lead, recall your dog and also put yours on lead.
– If you see a yellow ribbon, high vis “I need space” coat or any other warning, recall your dog and put it on a lead.
– If you see someone clearly training their dog and not interacting with others, recall your dog and put it on a lead.
If you have a dog that is reactive to others, aggressive or in any other way not sociable, there are definitely some situations you should probably avoid (i.e areas with large numbers of off-lead dogs playing would be somewhere I would avoid with a DA dog. Give a wide berth, rather than walking straight through the middle for example).
I need space coats, muzzles and caution leads can generally act as a decent deterrent that makes some owners realise your dog does not wish to socialise. The coats and lead slips can also be used with dogs that are in training, ill, injured, in season or anxious. While they do not combat the issue of dogs running over miles away from their owners (as dogs cannot read!!), they do work fairly effectively when owners are near enough to see and hopefully recall their dog.
We live in a selfish world where we want what’s best for us, and often don’t think of other people. Which is why I am asking that everyone just tries to respect everyone else a little bit more, and everyone will be able to harmoniously enjoy their dog walks, whether their dog is sociable or not.
If you own a dog that is sociable, but has a poor recall, please ensure that you train you dog to recall reliably BEFORE you start letting it off in public places. Over-friendly dogs bounding up to other dogs can get them in trouble, and may start a fight. This may then also lead to your dog having a negative experience, and becoming one of those dogs I have mentioned, that is not sociable and may be afraid of other dogs, never mind the potential injuries that may be inflicted. You just don’t know who your dog is going to go and greet.
(Jacket and lead slip from Neon Dog )
If you need somewhere to practice your recall, or you have a dog that would prefer a peaceful and private walk, away from other dogs, book your slot in my secure exercise field, just outside of Worcester!