Who’s Your Doggy? When leashed meets unleashed

When leashed and unleashed dogs share trails or parks, it can lead to conflict, but it doesn’t need to. There are ways to handle the situation that create good feelings and enjoyable walks for everyone.  

Most dogs greet other dogs happily and then move on. Some dogs, however, need space and are kept on leash. Age or physical infirmity could be why a dog needs space.

article continues below

Often, dogs need space because they are worried about or afraid of other dogs. These dogs may react strongly and exhibit aggressive behaviour, such as barking and lunging in the presence of other dogs, especially when a dog comes close to them.

If an unleashed dog has poor social skills and comes charging up, instead of approaching gently on a curve, this can intensify the leashed dog’s reaction because it is constrained by the leash and unable to control his or her own safety. Unfortunately, if the leashed dog reacts by barking or lunging or growling, it is often labelled unfriendly or aggressive when in fact it is the off-leash dog who is demonstrating a lack of manners.

How can we give leashed dogs the space they need? If you are walking your dog off leash and see a leashed dog in the distance, do not allow your dog to approach the dog on leash, even if your dog is friendly. 

Don’t call out, “It’s okay, he’s friendly” and let your dog barrel ahead. Instead, respect the leashed dog’s need for space and demonstrate empathy for the dog’s owner. Call your dog and snap on his leash. Give the leashed dog as much distance as you can from you and your dog.

Your thoughtfulness will be appreciated and contribute to the person’s and dog’s peace of mind.

If you have a dog who is reactive to other dogs and you see an unleashed dog in the distance, be proactive. Call out and ask for help. The best time to ask for help is before anything happens. You can say something like, “Can you help me? My dog is afraid of other dogs. Could you please keep your dog away?”

If your appeal for help doesn’t work, and you get the “It’s okay, he’s friendly” response, then you can be directive and say what you need to have happen, such as: “Stop! I need your dog not to approach.” Make it clear that it’s not negotiable.

You can also employ management techniques such as an emergency u-turn, blocking the approaching dog with your body, and picking up a small dog. Carry treats and throw a handful at the approaching dog.

It’s not easy having a dog who is reactive to other dogs. Owners who keep their reactive dogs on leash are being responsible and considerate of others. They and their dogs deserve our consideration in turn. Give them the space they need and make the world a kinder place.

Sandy Middleton is a dog trainer and behaviour consultant based in Powell River. For more information, go to bestfriendsdogtraining.ca.

 
Copyright © Powell River Peak

Comments

NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Powell River Peak welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

PEAK POLL

Where would you like to see the new firehall in Powell River, next to the RCMP on Barnet Street or in the public works yard on Duncan Street?

or  view results

Powell River city council approves firehall study

Sign Up for our Newsletter!

Popular Community

Community Events Calendar