Dog Walking Safety and Etiquette at Holidays4Dogs.
Off-lead walking is one aspect of responsible dog ownership, but many people still allow their dogs to run wild, disturbing nesting birds, wildfowl and grazing farm stock. This Holidays4Dogs article will discuss dog walking safety and responsible dog ownership.
The majority of our approved Holidays4Dogs carers have access to rural areas where dogs can run safely off-lead. Some carers have acres of their own land, but it is the responsibility of clients to let carers know if their dog is likely to bolt for the hills.
When walking in areas frequented by other dog walkers, there is always the chance of meeting less responsible dog owners. Even if your dog is on the lead, this can pose problems. Not all dogs are friendly and sociable.
Likewise, it is an unfortunate fact that, not all dog owners are responsible either. When the two meet, this can create a situation where conflict might ensue. It is responsible practice, surely, to put your dog on the lead when approaching other dogs, people or livestock. This is particularly important if the other dog is on the lead.
Not all dogs need to meet and greet.
Some people allow their dogs to charge at other walkers and their dogs. This is irresponsible and often unpleasant for other dog owners. Not all dogs need to meet and greet and there might be a number of reasons why this is not possible.
The other person’s dog might be old and infirm, nervous of unfamiliar dogs, lead reactive or, in training. Lastly, the owner might simply be someone who wants to be left alone and enjoy a peaceful walk, without being mobbed by out of control off-lead dogs.
This situation is most stressful for owners of reactive dogs who may have spent many months training their dog. An off-lead dog running up close can set both dog and owner back weeks, if not months. Many people only seem to think of their own dog.
However, if they could have empathy for other dogs who may be less confident or, even frightened, they may have a more understanding approach. If your dog was frightened and scared being ambushed by other dogs, would you not feel annoyed, or even angry?
The ‘Yellow Dog’ Scheme.
In the UK the Yellow Dog Campaign aims to raise awareness about these very issues associated with dog walking. The scheme was originally launched in Sweden in 2012 by Eva Oliversson, an international certified dog trainer and behaviourist.
The scheme has tirelessly campaigned for the colour yellow – i.e. yellow ribbons, leads and harnesses – to represent dogs that need space. There is still a long way to go as, many dog owners do not realise that a yellow coloured dog lead means, ‘please keep your distance’. Whether dogs are friendly, or not, many people can find dogs rushing up to them intimidating.
This is particularly so if there is more than one dog involved. Consider the picture to the left. Would you find this worrying if you were walking towards this group along the path?
While the couple may shout that their dogs are friendly, yours may not be. This could, therefore, cause a lot of stress for the dog, as well as you, the owner.
At Holidays4Dogs we don’t think this is fair. We also disagree with pack dog walking on a commercial level for the very reasons we have outlined above. We do not accept more than one dog at a time for home boarding, unless they are dogs from the same family.
All of our carers are evaluated for their experience with dogs. Safety is their paramount concern and all practice good dog walking etiquette. In addition, they know – and adhere to – local by-laws when in charge of guest dogs.
By-laws and legislation.
For example, The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, can impose fines of up to £1000 for not cleaning up after your dog. Most councils will have prominent signs up, so people should be aware of the rules.
In addition, The Road Traffic Act 1988 requires all dog owners to keep their dog on the lead on designated roads. Local authorities can extend this to other public areas such as, parks and recreation grounds. Therefore, it is always good to be aware of any information notices in your local area and keep up to date with any changes.
As well as this, the Control of Dogs Order 1992 requires that all dogs wear a collar and tag when out in a public place. The identification tag must include the name and address of the registered owner.
Holidays4Dogs guests must also wear one of our own unique identification tags at all times.
With regard to leads in general, an ordinary short lead is best for walking your dog. An extending lead is useful for dogs that cannot be let off the lead. We do walk guest dogs off lead – with owners written permission and after a day or two of getting to know dogs. (We can only permit off-lead exercise to dogs who have a good recall and are friendly with other dogs). However, we also recommend flexi-leads as a good alternative for keeping dogs safe, while allowing some freedom.
Please be aware there are some considerations to think about when using flexi-leads. When walking near roads – keep the mechanism on the lock setting. These devices have been known to fail – sometimes with grave consequences.
Walking your dog is one of the most pleasurable parts of dog owning, especially if it involves a dog friendly pub stop! Certainly our Holidays4Dogs approved carers thoroughly enjoy this part of looking after guest dogs. However, we can only permit off-lead exercise to dogs who have a good recall and are friendly with other dogs.
Walking your dog is a marvellous opportunity to bond with your pet. For our Holidays4Dogs carers it’s, likewise, the best way to get to know their guest dogs.
Being observant and courteous means that we can have stress-free walks with our dogs. In addition, it’s great to be be an ambassador for responsible dog ownership – the more of us who advocate it, the better.
Promoting dog walking safety and etiquette can not only benefit dog owners, but non-dog owners alike and is, therefore, advantageous to everyone.