PUBLISHED: 15:07 13 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:09 20 February 2013
Our canine expert Sophia Taylor discusses the etiquette of dog walking. Didn't know there was such a thing? Then read on...
Remember to consider others when you are out and about with your canine friend, says our dog expert
Walking the dog should be a relaxing experience, whereby you get the opportunity to discover new places to walk and meet up with like-minded people. Its the chance to unwind and relax after a long day at work and have fun with your dog.
Unfortunately, for some dog owners, this is not always the case and this can be for a number of reasons.
Some dogs pull on the lead making the walk tiresome for the owner, others are aggressive towards other dogs, which is a nightmare for the owner, who due to being misunderstood, will go to great lengths to avoid other dogs to the point of walking their family member at odd hours. Alternatively they may summon up the courage to walk at normal times but find it tedious when other dog walkers make a bee line for them, even though they are doing their best to get out of the way of the approaching dog.
Then there are those dog owners who allow their dogs to run up to every person, or dog walker, and invade their space with a usual comment of: Oh its okay. My dog is friendly! . . .
Yes, thats all very well, but the dog off lead may be approaching another dog that isnt friendly at all and when the dog on lead reacts, its at a clear disadvantage to the dog off lead, as should a bite occur it will not be the dog on lead that is at fault.
There will always be these situations, and others, and I certainly havent been a saint in the past, but thankfully have learnt to be more considerate as time has gone by. I try anyway.
So how can we be more considerate when walking the dog ?
n Owners with pets who are aggressive towards other dogs need to consider getting professional help from a dog training instructor and canine behaviourist. With expert help they can both be helped to gain confidence while out on the walk. The aim, where possible, would be to make friends with a dog who is calm and non-reactive towards other dogs, to go on a walk with or invite them to join a suitable class whereby the dog has the chance to be socialised and its behaviour modified.
n Retractable leads: Having your dog on these leads, on or by a road, is not deemed as under control, especially when the lead is out at its full length, as not only have dogs been distracted and ended up running on to the road and causing a driver to brake suddenly, this type of lead has also been known to snap. It can cause dogs to end up under a car.
These leads also have a tendency to cause damage to other dogs and owners when they get caught round their legs.
However, the retractable lead does have its place on country footpaths, but not on, or by, roads when used incorrectly.
n Try not to allow your dog to run up to every dog it sees, as not all dogs are going to be friendly and also dogs are animals first and foremost. I was reminded of this earlier this year, when one of my usually friendly dogs decided to run off and display blustery behaviour to a neighbours dog on a walk.
n When out walking, be considerate to other dog walkers and non-dog walkers alike as not everyone likes dogs.
n Keep dogs under close control, especially around game, livestock and wildlife.
n Before letting your dog off lead, be sure you can get it back.
n Meet up with other dog walkers as its a great way to meet like-minded people.
n Read other owners body language. If the owner is getting out of your way, then give them space rather than making a bee-line for them.
n When its dark or foggy, invest in high visibility clothing for you and your dog (waistcoats and flashing collars are now available).
Above all else, remember to have fun out on the walk. This may be achieved by taking your dogs favourite toy so you can stop and have a game or two on the way like find it, hide and seek or even tracking games. Or when the dog is old enough and as long as the dog has no health issues, you can go to the forest and get them to jump over fallen logs or go to the coast and let the dog swim in the sea if it is calm.
What ever you do be considerate when walking your dog and have fun!
Sophia MGoDT (Master Guild of Dog Trainers) (MT)
Telephone: 01359 233049