(Also helpful for the non-dog owner)
We have all been there. Out on the walk with our faithful companion when a dog seemingly without an owner comes bounding up to say hello or leap all over you and your dog, and on occasion this is accompanied by barking or growling behaviour!
Or you’re out on your walk and your dog has chosen to totally ignore you in favour of another dog or scent which is on the ground. Or you are not a dog owner for whatever reason but you enjoy country walks until a dog comes bounding up to you and appears larger than life and you’re frozen with fear!
Here are some suggestions which MAY be helpful at times like this, along with some other ‘dog walking’ tips:
In all cases remain calm and refrain from making eye contact with the loose dog(s).
- If you are in a situation where you can see a dog is about to bound up to you and your dog is on the lead then; ask your dog to SIT BEHIND YOU so that you are protecting your dog and NOT your dog in front of you trying to protect you. Some dogs do object to being on a lead whilst a loose dog bounces up to them as being on the lead takes away their Fight or Flight option.The other option – and the one I prefer to adopt – is to keep walking and avoid eye contact with the loose dog. This way you are not a ‘sitting’ target and the loose dog will very often return to its owner and stop following you. If you flap about the dog may see it as a game and keep following!
- Your dog has chosen to ignore you … it can happen to even the most obedient dog! IF it is safe to do so then ALWAYS call your dogs name first or wait for a break in whatever your dog is doing then call his name and once he looks at you then run the opposite way looking back every now and then to see if he is coming…once he is then stand still and call him in with a happy voice and ALWAYS give lots of praise for returning to you. Give at least 20 seconds of fuss as you put the lead back on. NEVER EVER CHASTISE THE DOG FOR NOT RETURNING AT ONCE other wise he will be very reluctant to return to you another time.
- You’re not a person who owns a dog but somehow you seem to attract dogs to you and usually the bouncy types with owners who like to say things like ‘he’s very friendly, he wont hurt you’. I suggest you STAND STILL AND TURN YOUR BACK ONTO THE DOG. Try never to panic and flap your arms about as this makes the whole situation a lot worst. Remain CALM AND REFRAIN FROM MAKING EYE CONTACT WITH THE DOG(S).
- Lead walking your dog safely: Flexi/retractable leads are a blessing and certainly have their place with dog owners and some dog trainers. However, they can also be a curse. Owners of these types of leads should be aware that having them at the full length of the 15 – 20 feet DOES NOT DEEM your dog ‘under control’ when they are on a path right by a road. The dog is an animal first and foremost and if the situation is right and the dog saw a cat, a person it knows, another dog, wild life or simply got scent of something then I am afraid it could, as it has happened, end up on the road under a car suffering severe injuries or death.
- The other point to mention regarding the flexi/retractable leads is that owners who have their dogs on these types of leads out at the full extent along tarmac paths are risking meeting dogs who are not friendly and who will not appreciate Fido getting caught round them. The flexi lead owner would be at fault as the dog is NOT under proper control. Therefore the correct lead to be used is a 4 -5 foot lead on a secure collar or head collar and the dog walking by the owners side. On the right side of the owner if walking along a road where there is no foot path as the dog should be walking by the verge and owner and dog walking FACING on coming traffic !
- We always advise clients who wish to use flexi type leads to take them on the walk in their pocket and use them once they are on footpaths which cut across country side.
- A training tip regarding walking dogs on lead : As it is a lottery as to which dogs are friendly on lead and which are not. It is a good idea to teach and condition your puppy/dog to IGNORE ALL dogs whilst walking on their lead and also when they are off lead it is a good idea to have trained them to ignore dogs which are also on lead. This way you are in control of the walk and also you control which dogs your dog can socialise with rather than allowing your dog total freedom to run and pounce on every dog it meets and ending up getting in possible strife. I like many dog owners have learnt this the hard way. It is never too late to train your dog to ignore other dogs. Obviously the younger the dog, the easier it is to teach it this exercise.
- DO NOT on any account walk your dog OFF lead on or by a road. What is it with people today who do this? The dog is an animal first and like with the flexi lead advice, a dog off lead on or by a road can be very dangerous. What is more, should the dog run in front of a car and cause the driver to swerve and be injured or killed some insurance companies will not to pay out to the dog owner for their negligence and further more the veterinary bill will be huge if the dog survived. Surely if you value your dog you simply wouldn’t do this.
- On a hot day take water for your dog on your walk.
- Take a toy and have some fun with your dog in a safe area.
- If you take your dog to training classes and they are held inside, then practice what you are taught out on the walk as well so they get conditioned to behaving in all situations and in different locations.
- Remember to be considerate and try not to assume everybody likes dogs or that every dog you meet is going to like your own dog regardless whether it is on a lead or not. We humans are not keen on every body we meet, so why do we expect our dogs to be?!
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