Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Dealing with irresponsible dog owners *hints & tips*

I’m not sure what “be a responsible dog owner” means to you, but recently both Clare and I encountered the very opposite on walks.

Sometimes we make mistakes because everyone does.

Maybe you don’t manage to call your dog back before they bound over to say hello, or your dog steals someone else’s tennis ball while you’re picking up poop.

Easy mistakes to happen for sure.

But when Clare had to bodge a slip lead out of her own dog leads to restrain a large powerful dog (no collar or tags) that was intent on having a go at Scout, and there was no owner in sight? That’s not a mistake, but wanton carelessness.

The person who told me “it’s okay, she’s muzzled” as a large, powerful dog muzzle punched Laird in the side causing him to scream and come back for comfort – that’s not a mistake either. That’s making a really poor choice on behalf of your dog.

So what can YOU do in situations where other people’s decisions affect you and your dogs? 

1. Pay attention to your surroundings. Watch other dog’s body language as much as you watch your own dog, so you can spot potential trouble early on. Clare and I were on different walks, but we both remember spotting these dogs and feeling uncomfortable. 

2. Take avoiding action if you can – change direction, call your dogs close, stop throwing their toys and so on. When a dog is charging towards you, it might be worth throwing food to tap it on the chest or you may be better concentrating on your own dogs. I put Bronte on the lead because being deaf and now almost entirely blind it’s harder to keep her safe. Clare put Scout (deaf, entire male) on the lead because she felt he might be targeted, and her other dogs would be able to interact safely and move away.

3. Intervene if you feel safe to do so – grabbing someone else’s dog is always risky, but you need to weigh up your options. Clare couldn’t see an owner anywhere, and that dog was persistently having a go at Scout. She knew that all her dogs would lie down and wait at a distance while she dealt with the strange dog, so that was the best option at the time. 

But be mindful of your own safety too! 

And if situations like this keep happening?

Consider when and where you walk your dogs.

While I’d love to be able to change the rest of the world sometimes it’s easier to change my own habits!

I sincerely hope you’ve had better walks than Clare and I, amazingly we weren’t even in the same place or out together when all these things happened.   Our dogs are doing okay, and hopefully our blood pressure will be back to normal soon!

Happy walks

Morag & Clare*

*who are still practising breathing calmly

Want to know what else you can do with your dog? 

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