I was recently walking my seven year old dog, Sadie Jane, in our neighborhood and out of the corner of my eye I saw a dog off leash running toward us. I quickly gripped up on Sadie’s leash when I realized that the owner was chasing her dog and seemed to be panicked. I knew that the best thing for all of us to do was to remain calm. Visions of the two dogs attacking each other and possibly us made this a little difficult. Sadie has never attacked another dog or person but if placed in a situation where she felt threatened or where she felt I was in danger I know it could change in an instance. The dogs began to sniff each other as the other dog’s owner struggled to hook the leash on the collar. The more the woman struggled the more the dogs began to seem agitated and I knew it was just a matter of seconds before a possible altercation might occur. Finally, the other dog was leashed and I quickly began walking away. I kindly informed the owner that it would be in the best interest of everyone to always keep her dog leashed or harnessed at all times when in public.
After praising Sadie and myself for remaining calm, I realized how devastating that situation could have turned out for everyone involved. I wondered if the other dog owner had ever thought about the endless negative possibilities she was leaving herself and dog vulnerable to. I often hear people say that their dog would never harm another dog or person. While that statement may be true for your dog thus far, remember it is natural for dogs and people to react and defend themselves if provoked or attacked. So for me keeping my Sadie on a leash is about keeping her safe. This experience really made me reflect on this topic and I have created a list of some things to think about.
Most parks and trails require that dogs are leashed at all times – I have the ability to control the situations I expose each of my three dogs to when they are on the leash. I am very familiar with my three dogs’ reactions to people and other pets based on past experiences. Sadie is social and enjoys interacting with other people and dogs. Charlie is the complete opposite and will only be social with animals he is familiar with. It takes him a bit to become comfortable with new people. Lucy just wants everyone to hold her and kiss her. However, I don’t know all the pets we encounter and feel it is the responsibility of the owner to have a way of controlling them for all of us – people and dogs – to be safe.
Remain Calm – The feeling I had as that dog was running toward us could have caused me to begin yelling which in turn would have scared Sadie. This could have caused her to immediately be aggressive toward the other dog as well as the owner. Many times in these situations, it’s the humans that provoke the pets unintentionally.
Wild animals can be tempting to your dog – Have you ever really noticed how many wild animals you see when strolling through the neighborhood, on a trail or playing at the park? I think we get so used to seeing squirrels, birds and other wildlife that we don’t even notice them anymore. But that doesn’t mean your dog won’t. Even if your dog has never attempted to run after a squirrel in the past you can never be sure. Not only is this exposing them to an altercation, it is also exposing them to deadly diseases such as rabies.
Exposure to poisonous plants – Our walking trails and parks are filled with plants that are poisonous to our pets. And unfortunately there is litter everywhere. So when our dogs are allowed to roam free away from us we are taking a chance of them ingesting something or rubbing up against a poisonous plant and not only getting the oils on their coat but then rubbing the oils on us.
Crossing Roadways – I used to always relate cars as being dangerous to cats however, that all changed when we were walking with Sadie one afternoon and were just about to cross the street following the prompt of the cross walk when a car came barreling toward us. Luckily, I was able to pull Sadie and myself out of the way. I know had she not been on a leash, this story would have had a very different ending.
As pet parents our goal is to always keep our “kids” safe and happy. Sometimes the best knowledge we get is through the experiences of others. I wanted to share our story in hopes of preventing a negative event in your family.