It’s OK! My dog’s friendly!
So, yesterday my family and I decided to visit a National Trust property local to our home. As the place was situated amongst glorious rolling countryside on a large estate where dogs were welcome, (on leads), we decided to take Floss the collie with us.
As readers might know, Floss is a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to other dogs, so we tend to avoid areas where there might be lots of off lead dogs; for the sake of her stress levels and my sanity!
After we pulled up into the neatly kept car park area, we all got out of the car and decided to check out the map for a suitable walk. Floss was on a short lead, minding her own business when the first couple strolled by with their dog on a flexi-lead, (don’t get me started!).
There may be a time and a place for these bungee-style flexi leads, but they shouldn’t be a crafty way round of getting away from the “dogs on leads” policy operating in many National Trust places, (as well as other public places of interest).
Naturally, the little Westie on the end of its ten foot invisible cord, meandered within an inch of Floss, who promptly displayed her indignation at having her space rudely intruded upon. The lady on the other end of the leash, thought it clearly amusing.
Thankfully, we set off on our walk around the woodlands and fields, meeting only a few people walking with their dogs (responsibly on the lead.) Just one couple with a lurcher, (who obviously thought they were exempt from the lead policy), walked past with their dog bounding this way and that, off-lead amongst sheep – it seemed like an accident waiting to happen, so it was with some relief it didn’t bother us as we passed on our way through the next gate.
This brought to mind a walk I had taken with Floss a few days earlier. We were having a lovely stroll until I spotted in the distance a young retriever scampering around, seemingly with no owner. He bolted quickly up hill and down dale, while I scanned the horizon for any sign of an owner. Eventually, a couple came into view who were carrying a dog lead, but there was some considerable distance between them and what I assume was their dog and who, by now, had taken himself off way down the common land and was but a speck in the distance.
Of course, by the time we got level with the couple, the dog returned crashing through the bracken towards us. Floss began the collie crawl as the dog catapulted itself towards her and the owners sauntered past without saying a word. It was at this point I doubted whether they were in fact the owners of this tear away pooch. Floss once again had to tell this rude dog off, by snapping at him. Luckily, he got the message and flew after what must have been his owners.
It’s a matter close to my heart and I’ve written (moaned) about the subject before on the Holidays4Dogs blog, but I do think it’s a point that needs periodically reiterating.
Please do not assume that every dog you meet is friendly. At least my irritation on these occasions wasn’t compounded by the other owner shouting across not to worry because their dog is friendly! That may be true, but mine isn’t! And, quite frankly, a boisterous, bouncing dog in Floss’s face does not in her eyes constitute friendliness – so think about it from a dog’s point of view.
I worked very hard with Floss, who is a rescue dog to teach her to walk past other dogs calmly, without lunging and barking (good for her, for me and a responsible way to act around other dog walkers). But despite our best efforts (keeping Floss on lead where other walkers and dogs are ), we frequently stumble upon dogs who rush up to Floss, frightening her. Depending on how anxious she is about this a growl, snap or lunge could ensue. And then what? What if the other dog isn’t as “friendly” as the owner thinks they are? What if their dog reacts to this and a fight ensues with my poor dog trapped and attached to a lead?
Please, please – when walking your dog, be mindful of other dog walkers and do not assume that everything will be ok if you let your dog bound up to another dog that is on the lead; it’s irresponsible and very unfair and unpleasant not only for the owner, (who may have put a lot of effort into training their dog) and for the dog on the lead who might become stressed by your dog’s behaviour, (friendly or not).
The friendly thing to do is make sure your dog is under control and stays by your side when passing other dog walkers, especially if you can see that other dogs are on the lead.
Floss and I thank you very much for your consideration!