I recently shared a news article about a lady that had to retire her guide dog because it had become reactive following a number of attacks when out with its visually impaired owner. This article struck a chord with so many responsible dog owners who struggle day in, day out to enjoy walks with their dogs due to untrained or unruly dogs approaching them off the lead.
The comments I have seen around this article have deeply saddened me, as having a dog is a privilege and a joy. It’s a shame to hear responsible dog owners are feeling upset and worried about their dog being hurt or distressed when going out for a walk.
Here’s a few ideas on how we can keep dog ownership fun and hi-light some basic etiquette we should all use when walking our dogs:
No-Recall – Lead on!
If your dog doesn’t have a good recall, don’t let it off lead to practice the wrong behaviour. Instead train your dog and use long lines to ensure they are under control. Having your dog on the lead can be fun for both of you, it’s a time to train, explore and bond together.
Pass the lead
If you are walking your dog off lead its sensible and good manners to put your dog on lead before you pass another dog. Even if your dog is well behaved it will make the other dog owner feel at ease as you pass. Remember some dog owners are scared of dogs they don’t know, so think about the people as well as the dogs.
Sit and wait
If you are walking your dog on a path, other dogs should also be on lead as it’s an offence to have them off lead under the road traffic act.
It’s good etiquette to find a space to ask your dog to sit whilst the other dog safely passes. As the dog passes reward your dog with a yummy treat so they understand a dog passing them is a good thing and paying attention to you is very rewarding.
This way you avoid a head to head confrontation which many dogs can find intimidating and both dogs become confident in passing each other calmly.
Find a space
If you are exercising your dog in an open area and want to play ball or have them off lead, its common courtesy and sensible to do this away from the dogs that are on lead or already playing in that area.
Only too often I see a dog owner charge into a space to throw their dogs ball. This causes distress and frustration to those on lead and disruption to those off lead, when there were acres of space with no one present in the other direction.
Respect and help
Look out for dogs with yellow leads, bandanas or jackets as they may be part of a yellow dog campaign, which is designed to warn other owners their dog needs space. When you see, a dog wearing yellow, respect their need for space, put your dog back on a lead. Don’t judge them, their dog is not bad and they are not bad owners. Most are incredibly responsible owners trying to help a dog that has had a bad experience at some time in its life. Spare a thought for these people because in my mind they are hero’s choosing to work with their dog and help them.
Everyone who owns a dog loves them dearly, if we are more thoughtful to each other dog walks will be fun and fantastic for everyone involved.
Qualified, professional advice from an accredited Trainer & Behaviourist