The importance of being a responsible dog owner
Do you dread taking your dog for a walk? Do you get stressed when you see a loose dog running around the park? If the answer to the above is yes, then you are not alone. These days walking your dog in the local park is very different to how it was 20 or 30 years ago. So, what’s changed? We are all told that we need to socialise our dogs, for most owners this just means going out and letting dogs meet dogs. However, just allowing your dog to approach another dog it does not know is wrong. We all think that if we “socialise” our dogs with other dogs then they will grow up to be sociable. The outcome is very different, what I see are stressed dogs and owners, dogs that will refuse or react when they are taken to the park. When taking your dog for a walk, it is your dog’s time with you and the social bit comes when your dog regularly interacts with dogs that it knows – they, therefore, learn the rules of play and interaction with that group. Walking your dog in the park should be fun for everyone, if a dog is on a lead and your dog is off the lead, then call your dog back so that you can walk past the on-lead dog and when it is safe you can let your dog off. If your dog is off the lead, do not let it just go up to other dogs and pester them if they on lead, call them to you and walk them on. If you are asked to call your dog back to you or put it on lead, then think about the owner who is asking this, they could have had a bad experience, so give them space and respond to their request.
Remember do not set your dog up for a potentially bad situation on a walk. Think of the three “A’s”:
- Assess – assess the situation – is it safe for your dog to approach another dog or person? The answer is probably no – so call your dog back.
- Adapt – look at your options – think about the course of action you will take (should you put your dog on the lead, should you think about walking in a different direction, etc). Again, if you cannot control your dog then the situation could end up out of control – who is therefore to blame?
- Act – take action on the situation. Call your dog back, clip its lead on and allow your dog off lead when it is safe to do so.