While walking our dog(s), whether it's a leisurely walk round the streets or a hike in the country, it should be a time where we can enjoy a precious moment with our much loved companions and possibly take some time out to reflect on the day and all of it's triumphs and downfalls.
Unfortunately, it is all too common to have these rare moments of inner peace and bonding time spoilt by the distinct lack of manners shown by other local dog walkers. Whether it be someone with an aggressive dog who lacks control of their dog and doesn't apologise when it reacts to your dog and just laugh it off like one big joke or the dog walker(s) who's middle name goes something like 'It's alright he's only playing.' or 'Don't worry mine's alright with other dogs.' When their dog has hurtled across the field and pesters your dog who has been walking quite contently on his lead and their owner's stood on the other side of the field either reassuring you that their dog is friendly (or just downright rude, it depends on how you perceive it) or making a fickle attempt to recall their dog for 10-15 mins before they realise all of the convincing statements and, quite frankly, poor attempts to become assertive with their dog has failed and they must come and get him.
There are probably some of you who are reading this and suddenly realise either recently or in the past you have been one of those owners that watches their dog run away to try and make friends with a strange dog on a lead and doesn't take a blind bit of notice of what you're saying. The question I pose to people in my class who admit to being this person is...
"You know that your dog is OK to mix with other dogs quite happily off the lead, BUT, how do you know that the dog they've just run to go see that is on the lead is as friendly as your dog??"
9 times out of 10 my students reply is they do not know how friendly that strange dog is. For all they know it could be a perfectly friendly dog, a dog that dislikes other dogs and is quite nervous or in a worst case scenario another dog who is severely dog aggressive and will grab hold of another dog at any opportunity. How many of you would be prepared to take that risk?
In my eyes it simply boils down to common sense, if you have a dog that runs off to see other dogs and doesn't come back then you do not let it off the lead when there is other dogs around and if you see another dog on the lead take your dog to a different area where he cannot see the other dog, or, an easier solution is just to put your dog on the lead.
I think it would shock many people if they knew how many of the dog-aggressive cases that I work with were all caused by this once very friendly dog running over and being attacked by another dog, leaving it with a serious mental scar. Or nervous dogs being so overwhelmed and frightened by overly friendly dogs while they are on the lead and having no choice but to react and bite.
Laws are now getting stricter on dog attacks and according to the, newly reformed, Dangerous Dogs Act all a dog has to do is invoke fear in a person of being attacked or being intimidated by a dog and that is more than suitable enough to make a prosecution. We all need to take on a stronger sense of responsibility for our dog's actions and become a lot more aware of what consequences their actions can have on yourself, other people, other dogs and, obviously, the dog itself.
Worst case scenario being that your dog is ordered to be destroyed. Its about common sense, responsibility and an awareness of other people's dogs and what they could potentially be capable of.