I live across the street from a busy park. This is not a dog park, and the park has very busy road on two sides.
Since the mandated lockdowns due to COVID-19, I have witnessed some annoying and, on occasion, alarming things with dog owners.
My Dog is Friendly – Your dog MAY be friendly but, mine may not be. A leash reactive dog is not going to respond well to your loose pup running towards them. Yelling “don’t worry she’s friendly” in no way negates the fear or reactivity of my leashed dog. If you want your dog to play with others go to the dog park.
My Dog is Perfect – You know the type. Their pup has done all levels of training, and, according to the owner was at the top of the class. Today I witnessed a woman put her dog in a very impressive “wait” on the sidewalk, walk to the middle of the park, and call her dog to come. This would have been awesome if the dog came. Instead, the pup saw a squirrel across the street and ran in front of a car to chase it. Luckily, the car was able to stop before the dog got injured or worse. The lesson here is that no dog is perfect!
The “I didn’t see it” Guy – Every morning a guy pulls up in his truck, grabs his dog and a ball and plays fetch. Great! The dog is ball motivated and will continuously play fetch. The problem is that during the game the dog takes a poop EVERY SINGLE TIME. The guy never seems to see this, so the poop never gets cleaned up.
Loose Kids – Most kids love dogs and want to meet them. The problem comes when a child runs up to a strange dog without checking with the owner. My dog loves kids, so much so that she will knock them over trying to touch them. She means well, and, if given the time to have her settle in a sit, is great at meeting them. The problem is when parents let their kids run up to her without notice. Roho will send them flying in her exuberance, and I look like the bad dog owner.
The Recaller – There are a lot of new puppy and dog owners with COVID. It seems that most of them are working hard to teach their dogs to come when called which should be commended! However, any dog trainer will tell you to practice your recalls in a CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT with a LEASH ON. I can not say this enough. Letting your new pup off leash in a park with no fence that is surrounded by busy streets is a BAD idea. I see this daily. Sometimes the pup comes, other times it runs the other way while the owner yells Filo “Come” over and over and over. What has Filo learned? He has learned that when the leash comes off he can make a run for it and explore his world. This self-rewarding activity, while loads of fun for Filo, is dangerous and reinforces an unwanted behaviour.
The Ignorer – With lockdowns, social distancing and COVID burn-out we all get excited when we see someone we know on our dog walks. Socializing is important for both people and their canine companions. The issue arises when owners drop their leashes to let their pups play without supervision. They are busy talking to others or on their phones and ignore their pups. Now, you have a loose dog that is not under the control of their owner. I watched one such dog run from the park to the sidewalk to “meet” an on-leash dog out for a walk. The leashed dog was clearly unimpressed and started barking and snapping at the loose dog while his owner tried to get control and keep the loose pup away. The Ignorer was engrossed in conversation and did not see what happened. It took a minute for her to realize her dog was missing. She then became a Recaller – yelling COME over and over again.
Whether you are in a park, on the trails or just out for a walk, please keep in mind that although your dog may be super friendly, well trained and socialized, not all puppies or dogs are. Be respectful of others by keeping your dog leashed and under control. You are not only helping your pup but also your neighbour’s pup.
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